SAS managed services help to keep insurance personal at Swinton

Posted on Tuesday September 17, 2013

London – SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed network and professional services, today announced the completion of a 500-site wide area network upgrade for UK insurance broker Swinton.

Despite being the UK’s largest insurance broker – 4500 employees and 500 branch sites nationwide – Swinton has an unwavering commitment to making insurance personal. Part of its strategy for delivering a personal service to clients is to keep the business local and establish relationships with customers in the areas where they live.

With 40 percent of Swinton’s insurance services now purchased online this amounts to a fairly sizeable dependency on network performance and availability.
“A lot of our business comes through the web but we write that business to the local branch so if the network is not available, we can’t take the business,” said Owen Rawlinson, IT infrastructure manager for Swinton. “Our brokerage system is distributed but data for credit-checking and checking for other policies is all held centrally. With such a dependency between the edge and centre it’s absolutely key the network is available.”

Unfortunately, availability and service management had not been good enough for some time so when Swinton’s existing network contract was finally due for renewal the company decided to put it out to tender.

“Four or five companies responded to our original RFP but the BT/SAS response was clearly the best,” said Owen. “It demonstrated the capability and management we needed along with good visibility and strong reporting.”

Before committing to a full network rollout, Swinton was eager to trial a solution first and signed up with SAS to deliver a 22-site pilot.
“One of the reasons we did the pilot was because we’d had issues with our previous supplier around service delivery and support and we didn’t want to repeat the experience,” said Owen Rawlinson IT infrastructure manager for Swinton. “The other reason was that we were planning to implement class of service for voice so we needed to make sure it was all possible."

Whilst the pilot was successful in demonstrating the viability of a BT/SAS solution it did highlight an unforeseen issue with Swinton’s existing phone system.
“Once class of service was applied to the pilot network, we found that the old phone system would randomly reboot,” said Owen. “In the end it took around 2-3 weeks of technical configuration work to resolve the issue. It was a good job we did the pilot; if that had happened in our live production environment it would have had a major impact on Swinton’s business.”

With all issues now resolved, and working to its original design specification, SAS was given the go-ahead to provision and rollout the new network to all of Swinton’s sites across the UK.

Using the same team of project managers and engineering staff established for the pilot, SAS was ready to implement the new network and migrate Swinton across from its existing infrastructure. In the months that followed, the SAS team worked through the deployment of each branch site, installing and configuring BT’s 21CN Ethernet MPLS circuits along with ADSL circuits for resilience.

At the company’s two data centres, SAS installed large BT Secure Plus circuits and BT Net Internet circuits as the primary and secondary networks
Since completing the project, the SAS network operations centre (NOC) has picked up responsibility for managing the new network, and today provides 24/7 monitoring and support for the Internet circuits, WAN infrastructure and SHDS.

“The SAS wrap wasn’t necessarily cheaper than what we had before but it was better value for money and more ‘fit for purpose’,” said Owen. “It also has better capability and fits more closely with our strategic vision for what we want to do.”SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed network and professional services, today announced the completion of a 500-site wide area network upgrade for UK insurance broker Swinton.SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed network and professional services, today announced the completion of a 500-site wide area network upgrade for UK insurance broker Swinton.

“Most businesses today are so preoccupied with cutting the operational expenses involved in supporting their clients that they’ve lost touch with the value customers attach to receiving a personal service,” said Charles Davis, CEO for SAS Global Communications. “Swinton’s visionary approach to delivering personal service helps to set it apart in the market and its investment in world-class technology and services provides the network assurance it needs to maintain and enhance that customer experience even further in the future.”