SAS Global Communications designs the model network for Cundall

Posted on Tuesday September 3, 2013

London – SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed network and professional services, has announced the completion of a project to upgrade the wide area network of engineering consultancy Cundall. The new network connects five sites on the company’s UK estate to its data centre and is supported by a three-year managed services agreement with SAS.

Since its founding in 1976, Cundall has built up an impressive portfolio of work, with projects ranging from HQ buildings for world class organisations like British Airways to luxury residential developments such as One Hyde Park.

Originally established in the north east of England, the practice has grown significantly over the years and now operates from offices both across the UK and internationally. For organisations like Cundall, collaboration has always been fundamental to project design and delivery but, in recent years, as CAD and modelling files have continued to multiply in both complexity and size the company’s ability to share documents between sites had become challenged.

“Our network technology had reached the limit of what it could do,” said John Lane, IT director for Cundall. “We were also about to implement a new 3-D modelling package which was even more resource hungry than what we had – we needed to upgrade.”

With its existing network contract drawing to a close and aware that technology prices were falling, Cundall was curious to test the market. “Our initial perception was that by going to the market, we could probably get a better deal with our existing supplier,” said John. “But then we experienced a fairly major issue with our supplier; they didn’t communicate effectively with us and that made us take a closer look at who else was in the market.”

A pre-requisite for any new supplier was the ability to deliver a consistent level of service and performance across all of Cundall UK offices. It soon became clear that there weren’t too many candidates for the position.

“Once you’re outside London, the only real provider is BT; you might buy the backbone from a competitor but the last mile is nearly always provided by BT,” said John. “Since we’ve got offices in Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, it seemed to make most sense to deal directly BT.”

All the same, due to its size, Cundall did have some reservations about working directly with BT so was pleased when BT suggested an introduction to one of its managed services partners, SAS.

“If you’re a large company you get a BT account manager that makes the organisation work for you. If you’re our size, you don’t get that level of account management,” said John. “Having someone like SAS to provide the interface with BT makes sense. Effectively the concept works better than having a direct relationship with BT.”

However, whilst services like network management, traffic monitoring and support were of great importance to Cundall, the design and implementation of the new network was even greater and this was an area where SAS was also able to shine.

“The big issue is around putting in a new network,” said John. “It’s a lot of work getting two new fibre networks installed with diverse routing and getting everything tested and ready to go. SAS said ‘we’ll do all that for you’ so we signed an order with BT and SAS did all the leg work to get us a network that’s working.”

Cundall’s new network is based on BT’s resilient Etherflow ELAN technology, terminated with Cisco hardware and supported by a custom service wrap from SAS.
“The new network gives us the capacity we need today along with the built-in capability to expand as demand rises in the future,” said John. “It is actually costing less per annum as well.”

In fact, even with the addition of SAS’s service fee, the cost of new routers and excess construction charges, Cundall still expects the payback to be around 18 months.
Summing up his overall experience, John said, “The project was not without complications, the network took longer to install than expected and there were a some frustrations but we always felt someone was looking after our interests by having SAS onboard.”

“When they’re first introduced to SAS, BT customers are sometimes confused as to why a huge organisation like BT would chose to support any of its clients through a partner,” said Charles Davis, chief executive officer for SAS Global Communications. “This was not a concern for Cundall because it had the experience to know that BT has found that it can ensure the highest level of service delivery for customers in the SME and corporate mid market category by working with specialist partners like SAS.”