London - SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed and professional network services, has designed and installed a new BT MPLS WAN infrastructure for international construction company Northcroft. The network which links eight sites in the UK is supported by a managed services agreement between the two companies.
Prior to the installation, Northcroft had been working with another network provider for its core WAN infrastructure but was generally unhappy with the service it was receiving; the network was unreliable, and change requests were frequently misapplied or unacceptably delayed. In addition, the company had no visibility of its network utilisation or performance, making it extremely difficult to plan the rollout of new applications.
Since its existing network contract was about to expire, Northcroft decided to take the opportunity to see what was available on the market and approached BT for advice.
Northcroft was looking for an MPLS-based wide area network to connect its eight UK offices. It also wanted a secondary, DSL-based, network to provide failover for the primary circuit, along with in-life monitoring and support services for all; ideally the secondary network would be sourced from another carrier to ensure diversity in the routing of the two networks.
“We were quite keen to go with BT because they own the majority of their network which means we only have to deal with one company if there are any faults,” said Anthony Eason, associate director ICT for Northcroft. “Having said that, we didn’t want to go to BT directly; a company of our size doesn’t get that personal touch from BT so we really wanted to work with a third party that had a good relationship with BT and could manage the network for us.”
Aware of the company’s concerns about being too small to get sufficient attention, and unable to provide a redundant circuit via the Internet to MPLS, BT suggested working in collaboration with SAS, a managed services specialist and long term partner of BT’s for infrastructure design who could act as a single point of contract for both BT and non-BT networks.
“I was pretty impressed when I met the team from SAS – their engineering knowledge was huge and I knew I could just sit down with the guys and design the network,” said Anthony. “They also had good ties with BT and the fact that the contract would still be with BT gave us the sense of security we wanted.”
To initiate the project, SAS provided technical design authority for both the primary MPLS circuit, which would use BT’s IP Clear technology, and the secondary connectivity, using Virgin Media’s Business Broadband, thereby ensuring both technical and carrier resilience.
Working closely with BT and Virgin on the provisioning of the circuits, SAS's project and engineering teams took responsibility for managing the installation and configuration of the new network.
Since completing the project, SAS has taken responsibility for managing and supporting the new infrastructure which includes 24/7 monitoring and helpdesk facilities from its network operations centre in West Sussex. SAS also provides Northcroft with access to real time performance and utilisation statistics from its network managed system.
“The SAS monitoring tools are great – I particularly like the fact I can get live data on my mobile phone 24 hours a day,” said Anthony. “People say I’m sometimes difficult to contact because I’m always on the move so it’s important to know that any vital network information is following me around.”
Commenting on some of the other benefits of the project, Anthony said:
“By going to BT for our network and SAS for the management, we’re probably saving around £20k a year, compared with our previous supplier. We’ve also seen a huge improvement in service levels – network performance and availability is up by about 35%.”
“Small and mid-sized companies will often avoid talking to the large carriers for their network requirements because they’re concerned they won’t get the attention their business needs and assume the price will be too high,” said Charles Davis, CEO for SAS Global Communications. “These companies can learn much from Northcroft’s example; Northcroft approached BT with a clear idea of what it wanted and how it wanted it delivered, and together with SAS, BT was flexible and agile enough to make it happen.”