Dermalogica faces a healthier future with managed services from SAS Global Communications

Posted on Monday December 12, 2011

London - SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed network and professional services, has announced the completion of a project to upgrade the WAN infrastructure of global skin health specialists, Dermalogica. The new network which connects the company’s UK headquarters with its main distribution centre and seven national training centres is supported by a three-year managed services agreement with SAS.

Since its US founding in 1986, Dermalogica has become a renowned skin health brand amongst beauty professionals and consumers the world over. Education has always played a leading role in Dermalogica’s business strategy and today the company trains around 75,000 skin therapists each year.

For Dermalogica, as for many other organisations that offer specialist training services, digital content has provided a new and effective channel for sharing knowledge. However, for UK IT manager, Alan Norman, distributing digital content across the company’s network was starting to take its toll on performance.

“Over the last few years, we’ve changed the way we manage aspects of our business like training,” said Alan. “Rather than bring staff in for training, we now record and send out a lot of videos – some of these are streamed and some are downloaded – but our existing lines didn’t have sufficient capacity to deal with the increase in data and we started having performance issues.”

To compound an escalating performance problem, Dermalogica was also becoming increasingly disillusioned with the network support it was receiving from its incumbent managed service provider.

“The customer service was pretty poor; they were slow to resolve issues and when we raised an issue, there was a lot of buck passing,” said Alan. “My team would end up having to call both the carrier and our provider. We lost that single point of contact for escalations, which was the whole point of moving to a managed services provider in the first place.”

“Another issue was the turnover of staff,” said Alan. “We had six new account managers in 18 months so there was no chance to build a relationship with anyone.”
After contacting his service provider about the problem and receiving only a luke-warm reception, Alan turned to his BT account manager for help.

“I told her I’d like to look at something else and after a couple of referrals SAS was put forward,” said Alan. “Although I had reservations about working with a third party again, I could see that it would be a joint deployment between SAS and BT, which was very different from what we had at the time.”

As part of the proposal, SAS would provide technical design authority and project management services for Dermalogica’s new network and would work with BT for the provisioning of the circuits. It would then provide the engineering team to install and configure the routers at each site, and all sites would be monitored and managed through the SAS network operations centre (NOC) in West Sussex.

“I went down to the SAS NOC to see how the monitoring was manned and understand what SAS could offer,” said Alan. “I liked the fact that SAS had great security on the NOC; people couldn’t just wander in so there was little distraction for the team. It was also a very professional environment – not a lot of chit chat – and the fact that everyone is Cisco trained and goes through a continuous evaluation process really gave me confidence.”

Despite being impressed by what he had seen from SAS, Alan wanted to be absolutely certain he was making the right decision.

“We did also go out to tender,” said Alan. “But the BT based infrastructure with SAS managed services turned out to be the best deal price-wise so it was easy to make a decision from that point onwards.”

Now ready to sign up for the project and bring 21cn technology to Dermalogica’s network, Alan received some concerning news.

“I was given notice that the lease on our old head office was running out and we needed to move out quickly,” said Alan. “Unfortunately by the time I was told, the deadline for ordering MPLS circuits for the new office had already passed.”

Whilst the relocation did not change the fundamental network requirements it did increase them in the short term because the company needed connectivity from the first day of occupation in its new offices.

To circumvent the problem SAS proposed a temporary three-phased approach, incorporating BT Business Broadband for the first 30 days of occupation and then Ethernet point to point connectivity for the next 35 days until the IP Clear MPLS network and BTnet Internet connectivity could be installed.

With the final solution now in place, SAS has since taken on responsibility for managing Dermalogica’s new infrastructure, which includes 24/7 monitoring and support, along with a single point of contact for all moves, additions, changes and issues on the BT network.

“Value-wise, we can virtually forget about the network with SAS. I don’t have to dedicate my guys to monitoring it – they can concentrate on internal support,” said Alan. SAS’s ability to be proactive means that if an issue does occur out of hours, there’s no downtime; by the time I get into the office, SAS will already have flagged the issue to BT and it will more than likely be resolved. I’ll just be advised that there was a problem.”

“From a services point of view, we’ve had no major outages since SAS has been managing the network. The SAS service desk responds very quickly to calls and I can always escalate to my account manager if something is urgent. Overall, I’d say that in the last few months with SAS we’ve had better service than in the previous two years with our old supplier,” said Alan.

“Digital content, particularly the use of video and voice technology within our infrastructures has changed the complexity of network management by an order of magnitude,” said Charles Davis CEO for SAS Global Communications. “All the same, the key to successfully outsourcing the management of any type of infrastructure remains unchanged – it’s about taking ‘ownership of issues’.

“Alan Norman is no stranger to networking technologies and recognises that every network has its flaws but what he’s discovered by working with SAS is that this doesn’t have to be a show-stopper for either him or the business the network supports.”