London - SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed and professional network services, today announced details of a managed services agreement signed with Britain’s largest public sector trade union, UNISON, to provide WAN and LAN monitoring of the union’s network estate of more than 30 UK sites.
UNISON was introduced to SAS after making the decision to novate its existing IP Clear network back to BT, from a former supplier. Whilst keen to re-establish a direct relationship with BT, the union was also looking for monitoring and management of its WAN, which was not available as part of the standard BT product set.
“One of the challenges with any network is knowing when a site has gone down; it’s also important to know where links are breaking and when they are fully utilised,” said Laurence Arterton, Infrastructure and Telecoms Manager for UNISON. “We wanted a service where all the links could be monitored by a third party.”
In addition to its managed services requirement, UNISON was also in the process of moving its data centre to a new facility and had an immediate need for WAN connectivity at the new location.
“We had a short time scale to move into our new data centre but BT’s standard delivery time was outside that window so we needed some creative networking,” said Laurence.
To accommodate UNISON’s impending move and allow for the lead time for ordering the additional IP Clear link, SAS, together with BT iNet, devised a plan to provide interim connectivity for the new data centre by installing a Layer 2 point to point circuit between the new site and BT’s Telehouse data centre in the Docklands; from there, BT was able to connect UNISON’s new data centre into its IP Clear network.
Since then, SAS has taken responsibility for monitoring all of the links into UNISON’s new data centre, along with more than 30 additional sites on the union’s network estate; it also acts as a single point of contact for any faults on the WAN, providing 24/7 helpdesk support from its network operating centre in West Sussex.
“With SAS you always get through to people who have the knowledge to help you and they’re always able to get to the bottom of the problem, even on issues that other organisations have struggled with,” said Laurence. “We’ve seen some real improvements in service levels, particularly on the time it takes SAS to find and fix faults.”
In April 2011, UNISON moved to new headquarters and expanded the existing managed services agreement with SAS to include monitoring and management of the union’s local area network as well.
“After the WAN monitoring success, it made sense to add the LAN,” said Laurence. “With the SAS monitoring portal, I can see graphically that links are up and what their utilisation is; by including the LAN, it will gives us complete visibility of all our network usage – virtually from the desktop upwards.”
Commenting on the role that SAS takes in managing UNISON’s network, Laurence said:
“In the beginning, SAS wasn’t a critical part of the service we provide but that has changed. Now, I wouldn’t want to work with BT without having a service like the one SAS offers – it has more than proved its value.”