It may be a popular theme song for The Walt Disney Co., but "It's a Small World" certainly doesn't describe the corporation's numerous business segments and the many networks that serve them.

And when Phil Edmonds, the corporate director of telecommunications, information services, joined Disney in 1990, these far-flung networks were disparate and disconnected.

Because there was no central group responsible for networking, each business unit set up its own network. The result was a mishmash of multiple Systems Network Architecture (SNA), Unisys Corp., and Digital Equipment Corp. hierarchical data networks, with most host access done via nonintelligent terminals. Local area networks (LANs) were few. […]