London - SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed network and professional services, has completed a project to upgrade the wide area network of ThyssenKrupp Materials (TKM) UK, a major provider of raw materials for metal product manufacturing. The new network provides connectivity for 11 UK sites and is supported by a managed services agreement with SAS.
TKM is a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp, one of the world's largest technology groups. In the UK, TKM employs around 380 staff, all working in the company's main areas of steel, capital goods and services. In addition to its own offices and stockholding warehouses in the UK, the company also owns Metalfast, Vetchberry Steels, MSS and Alserco.
Like most organisations today, TKM is continually challenged by the need to boost efficiency, optimise structures and cut costs, so when infrastructure manager Gary Cleasby was tasked with upgrading the company’s UK wide area network, the requirements of his brief were fairly clear.
“Reducing cost is what we were looking to do but we also wanted to bring more sites onto our WAN and get extra capacity on the lines,” said Gary.
TKM had been working with managed services provider SAS since 2006 for the installation and support of its existing BT IP Clear WAN so decided to return to the company for help with its latest project.
SAS suggested EFM (Ethernet in the first mile), a low cost, high resilience 21cn technology that was now available as an alternative to leased line circuits. EFM circuits were much cheaper than their leased line equivalents and offered symmetrical speeds of up to 10Mbps.
“We looked into EFM and found that it was the way to move forward with our network,” said Gary. “I knew the technology was available at four of the BT exchanges we connect to and it would mean we would be able to achieve what we wanted without increasing our costs by too much.”
With a green light from TKM, SAS kicked off the project by providing technical design authority for the new network; it also took charge of BT circuit provisioning and professional services, delivering the engineering resource for router installation and configuration at each site.
At four TKM sites, SAS replaced the existing leased line connectivity with EFM circuits; one TKM site will remain on a leased line circuit however due to its distance from the exchange. For sites without EFM availability, SAS installed ADSL Connect and Flex Local circuits.
As part of the project, SAS has also just completed the installation of an upgraded BTnet on a flexible Ethernet circuit at TKM’s Cradley Heath office; this will deliver additional bandwidth and increased resilience at the company’s HQ for Internet services and public VPN connectivity for backup to the remote sites.
“This project was about looking at costs and doing more with the network,” said Gary. “By choosing EFM, we were able to reduce costs at some sites and utilise the saving to connect other sites to the WAN - we also now have the extra capacity we need along with a far more resilient network.”
“I looked at other vendors for this project but we have a proven track record with SAS and I have no issues with the BT network because it reaches most parts of the UK,” continued Gary.
With the upgrade now safely under its belt, SAS has since assumed responsibility for managing and monitoring the new infrastructure and Gary is more than happy to let the company do that.
"We have no issues with taking on challenges in IT but we don't have in-house knowledge of Cisco equipment and I don't want the headache. When it comes to the network, which is critical to the company, I'd much rather have an expert managing that for me and that's what I get with SAS," said Gary.
“There are now several national and international carriers who can offer 21CN technology to the UK and the cost savings and performance improvements offered by the technology are clear,” said Charles Davis CEO for SAS Global Communications. “What is not always clear to many companies, particularly those looking for a cheaper alternative to BT however, is that whilst a lot of carriers do have a core UK network, that network is still very small compared with BT’s. For example, where a BT PE router failure may impact just five percent of customers, a similar failure for a smaller competitor could impact 50 percent of its network. Further, in a lot of instances these competitors will still need to use BT’s backbone to access all areas of the country and this just adds another layer of complexity and cost to managing their networks.”