Bespoke network from SAS Global Communications promises five nines availability
London - SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed and professional network services, has undertaken a complete network overhaul for the College of Richard Collyer, a sixth form college in Horsham, West Sussex. The new bespoke network supports 500 users, including teaching staff and pupils, and is able to reliably support all of the college’s communications needs. This includes the use of interactive whiteboards and the internet during lessons – both integral parts of the national curriculum which strongly recommends the use of ICT resources in the classroom.
Prior to working with SAS, Collyer’s was dependent on a communications network that had evolved and grown in the hands of a number of different parties. The outcome was a network infrastructure that was creaking at the seams, suffering outages two to three times a week. This downtime was unpredictable and lasted anywhere between 10 minutes to several hours, seriously impacting the teaching environment. Collyer’s decided to invest in a bespoke network that was specifically designed to meet the college’s needs and that would provide a resilient and reliable backbone, flexible enough to support future growth and changes in requirements.
SAS carried out an initial infrastructure audit which revealed connectivity issues and identified that more than half the network points did not work – both of which were negatively impacting the day-to-day operation of the network, as well as incurring unnecessary operational costs for the college. The audit also revealed that some of the existing cables were not correctly installed, causing interruptions to the data flow and network outages as well. To resolve all of these issues, SAS recommended a complete network overhaul, including the installation of a fibre backbone, to provide the necessary resilience, a redesign of the cabling infrastructure and upgrade of all server hardware and applications.
“The frequent network outages were causing us serious headaches and affecting our teachers’ ability to do their jobs,” said Peter Swift, IT manager at the College of Richard Collyer. “Working with SAS we were able to quickly identify the root cause of the problems and put in place a new infrastructure that gives us the resilience we need today plus the flexibility to change and grow in the future.”
In addition to providing a resilient network, Collyer’s was also keen to ensure the new infrastructure was as environmentally friendly as possible, helping to lower energy consumption and enable better power management. To achieve this, SAS re-used existing cabling where possible, and integrated this with new CAT5e structured cabling in places where replacement was the only option. Furthermore, by identifying redundant areas on the network, SAS Global was able to consolidate five individual servers onto a single rack-mounted server. This enabled Collyer’s to reduce its energy consumption and has also allowed the college to introduce more efficient management functions. For example, it is now possible for the IT department to remotely control and switch off PCs.
“Like any public sector organisation, we take energy management very seriously and reducing carbon emissions is high on our agenda,” continued Swift. “With ICT equipment being a major contributor, it was crucial that any investment in a new infrastructure would also actively help us to minimise our impact on the environment. Not only did SAS effectively consolidate the system onto just one server, we’re also now in a much better position to remotely control usage of PCs and ensure nothing is left switched on when it doesn’t need to be.”
SAS provided Collyer’s with a network diagram which details every component of the physical infrastructure. In a dynamic, academic environment like Collyer’s, this sort of information is crucial, as the way in which classrooms are used changes almost yearly. Up to date documentation enables the college to easily manage this change.
“Getting the most out of a network that has evolved and been added to on an ad hoc basis, rather than one that has been specifically designed with the organisation in mind, can be an extremely difficult and time-consuming task,” said Charles Davis, CEO of SAS Global Communications. “Not only is it likely that components of the network will not be properly configured to work together, it’s also a challenge to gain a realistic view of what has actually been deployed. For organisations that need the flexibility to change the way they use their network year-on-year, this lack of visibility can be a show-stopper. With its new bespoke infrastructure, Collyer’s has effectively overcome these problems, leaving the IT department free to get on with the job in hand rather than spending hours trying to find out what’s installed where.”
SAS also provides managed services for Collyer’s; this includes proactive 24/7 monitoring of the network, as well as firewall configuration and scanning. SAS also continues to work with the College of Richard Collyer as it grows and its needs change.
For businesses that need advice about their communications infrastructures, SAS has launched a series of online workshops designed to address the practical requirements of installing converged networks. SAS is also running a series of live training webcasts. These events are available free-of-charge to registered users at ww.sas.co.uk/webevents. The next webcast is entitled, ‘Scoping your IP telephony project for an RFP’ and will take place at 11.00 am on Tuesday 27th November.