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21CN provides the case for SAS managed services with Geldards LLP

Next generation networking enables law firm to increase WAN specification and add resilience and bespoke manage services at cost-neutral

London – SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed network and professional services, has announced the completion of a project to upgrade the wide area network (WAN) of UK law firm, Geldards LLP. The 21CN infrastructure is supported by a three-year managed services agreement from SAS, which will provide monitoring and helpdesk services for the company’s three-site network estate.

Geldards is one of the country’s leading regional law firms, providing a wide range of commercial legal services to major private and public companies, local authorities, public bodies and government agencies as well as individuals throughout the UK. The firm employs over 300 staff between its offices in Cardiff, Derby and Nottingham, all of whom require continuous access to dockets, email and other data systems throughout their working day.

Not surprisingly then, when Geldards decided to centralise its application services in Cardiff, network resilience became extremely important to head of IT, Huw Wigley.
“We needed to have good SLAs and we needed to keep the network up as much as possible,” said Huw.

With its existing BT network contract drawing to a close, Huw decided to approach the company again armed with his new requirements for the WAN.
“Our brief to BT was for a network that would give us the bandwidth we needed for a centralised IT services operation and the resilience to ensure ‘five nines’ availability,” said Huw. “We also wanted BT to manage the network rather than having a wires-only service but BT actually recommended SAS.”

SAS was a long term partner of BT’s and had been working with the company to provide bespoke service agreements to specific BT clients for several years.
Unfazed by the prospect of working with a BT partner, Huw said: “We never really considered going elsewhere. We have used other suppliers in the past but although they can be cheaper you always hit BT’s network in the end. BT is not the cheapest but it is one point of communication.”

“It was crucial that the best people take care of the network,” said Huw. “It’s a core element of our infrastructure but an area that no one sees unless it’s not working, then people start shouting.”

In addition to its WAN management capabilities, SAS was also a specialist in the technical design and implementation of converged IP infrastructures so was ideally placed to assist with the specification of Geldards’ 21CN network.

Together with BT, SAS designed a new 21CN network for Geldards, which includes an active-passive DR solution for additional resilience.

“SAS also worked with us on our Internet links,” said Huw. “By removing one of the connections into Derby and leveraging the bigger links in Nottingham and Cardiff, SAS has helped us to offset the cost of building resilience into the network. In fact, even with SAS’s management and monitoring services on top, the new 21CN network is still cost-neutral.”

The new infrastructure uses BT’s IP Connect UK (formerly IP Clear) as the primary network, connecting each of the three sites, with EFM circuits providing the failover or secondary network. Cisco equipment, provided by BT iNet and configured and installed by SAS, was used to terminate the network.

“EFM is a cost effective way of having a backup solution,” said Huw. “We were hoping it would never be used but it was tested only recently. The first outage in years; the Sheffield exchange went down and it took out our Nottingham and Derby sites with it. Fortunately, the failover kicked-in as planned and we were back up by 9.15.”

“The system we are now operating at Geldards really demonstrates the business case for migrating to a 21CN or next generation network,” said Charles Davis, CEO for SAS Global Communications. “21CN has given the company a more powerful, more resilient and far better supported network without the need for additional investment. In addition, by allowing sufficient time to design and plan its new infrastructure, Geldards was also able to identify projects that could enhance efficiency within its Internet architecture as well.”

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