New WAN with managed services for Norwich & Peterborough Building Society

London - SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed and professional network services, has announced the completion of a project to upgrade the wide area network (WAN) infrastructure of Norwich & Peterborough Building Society (N&P). The new 50+ site 21CN network is supported by a managed services agreement, which sees SAS take responsibility for monitoring and supporting N&P’s estate and provides the society with real time information on performance, availability and application utilisation.

N&P’s decision to upgrade its wide area network was driven largely by the Society’s desire to access the latest telecoms technology that would facilitate future business development. Since N&P’s existing network was not able to support network services like class of service (CoS), and was also nearing end-of-life (EoL), Head of IT, Stephen Mulley, was keen to modernise the network as quickly as possible.

He was also keen to achieve more flexibility in the way the Society’s network was managed; in particular Stephen wanted real-time visibility of all circuits and connected devices, and performance statistics for application traffic. A lot of N&P’s applications are centralised so the Society needs to understand the quality of delivery on those applications.

One of the biggest challenges for Stephen however was budget; the society needed all of these additional services and functionality for the same price it was paying for its existing network.

“Our new infrastructure had to be cost effective and access the latest circuit technology and services. We needed to be at the forefront of what our previous supplier could provide, as our old WAN was EoL,” said Stephen.

As a long standing customer of BT’s, BT was once again the first port of call for N&P’s new network. Having worked in collaboration with SAS Global Communications on a similar project, and come up with a flexible and cost effective solution, BT decided to introduce SAS to N&P.

A meeting was set up between BT, SAS and N&P, and together they reviewed the Society’s requirements and expectations.
“We were delighted when BT introduced us to SAS,” said Stephen. “SAS listened to what we wanted and was willing to work in partnership with N&P – SAS gave us confidence, right from the initial contact, that they would deliver what they promised.”

Whilst BT had initially proposed using 3G and ISDN for backup, the team quickly concluded that this was not actually viable because of the amount of data N&P would want to transfer if it needed to invoke the failover network.

“It took SAS about 15 minutes to see that the BT solution wasn’t going to work for N&P,” said Stephen. “Within two days, SAS had re-engineered the architecture and got us back on track.

As an alternative, SAS suggested using BT’s Internet Teleworker technology for backup which could provide a secure connection back into MPLS. For additional resilience, it was agreed to upgrade an existing BT circuit to triangulate failover between the Society’s two data centres to ensure there was no single point of failure.
For its primary network, SAS recommended IP Clear with ADSL2+ Connect services at sites where BT’s 21st century network was available and 20CN circuits where local exchanges had yet to be enabled.

Since a key requirement of the network was that all traffic was encrypted and accelerated to and from remote sites to the data centre, the solution also needed a specific Cisco router which was not available through the standard BT product set.

Fortunately, because BT was proposing that the new network would be installed and managed by SAS, the additional hardware could be purchased independently from BT iNet, allowing SAS to fully customise the configuration for N&P’s specific requirements.

Satisfied that N&P could acquire a network solution that met its requirements and came within budget, Stephen made the decision to move forward with the project and commissioned SAS to deliver the new infrastructure.

In the first stage of the project, SAS provided technical design authority for N&P’s network to ensure it was accurately scoped to meet the society’s business and technical requirements. After assisting N&P to carry out a proof-of-concept on the Cisco hardware that would be deployed to terminate the network, SAS provided project management and engineering services for the installation and configuration of all of the new circuits.

Since completing the project, SAS has taken responsibility for managing the Society’s BT WAN, and now provides 7/7 monitoring and support services for all circuits from SAS’s network operations centre in West Sussex.

In addition, through the company’s network management system, N&P now has full visibility of all circuits and connected devices, along with real time information on performance, availability and application utilisation.

“We now have much tighter control of our management information in terms of application traffic,” said Stephen. “We’ve also got access to experts in SAS who provide a fast break-fix. SAS care about the service I have to deliver to my customers and that makes them an excellent commercial partner to work with.”

“Openness and honesty is the foundation of any good managed service relationship, whether with customers or with partners,” said Charles Davis, CEO for SAS Global Communications. “By taking this approach both in our relationship with BT and directly with N&P, we were not only able to help N&P achieve the best solution for its business we were also able to establish trust and credibility as a service provider and a partner.”

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