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Think Apartments turns to SAS Global Communications for next generation infrastructure

London - SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed and professional network services, has announced that it is working as part of a consortium with BT to provide physical infrastructure design and implementation services to rental and construction specialists, Think Apartments. The managed services specialist is currently completing work on four buildings within the Think portfolio, including its 330 room flagship complex in Earls Court.

Think Apartments is the London hotel alternative for business and leisure travellers. The company has been operating for 18 years and, since 1991, has established a portfolio of nine apartment buildings in the central London area. The Think philosophy is to offer clients a ‘home from home’ experience and the company’s unique phased release approach allows it to obtain a much faster return on investment than other organisations in the construction sector.

In 2007, with plans underway for the construction of four major new apartment complexes, IT director Raj Randhawa began approaching companies to investigate technologies for the new Think Apartments.

“We knew we would be constructing four buildings very quickly and we wanted to future proof them,” said Raj. “After our earlier experience with Think Bermondsey we also wanted to achieve economies of scale and reduce the cost of each apartment.”

After initial discussions with several major suppliers, Raj concluded that the company’s requirements could not be met by a single supplier.

“A lot of the companies we spoke to thought they could do what we needed but technically, the more I looked, I found that people didn’t understand how to deliver integrated services, which is fundamental to our strategy, or costs just escalate,” said Raj. “Even after talking to BT, we knew we were going to struggle without partnering with a consortium that would bring suppliers to the table to help with both our infrastructure and our applications.”

Nearly two years on, after extensive talks with a number of consortiums, Raj made the decision to work with BT. One of the partners introduced as part of the BT consortium was physical infrastructure and managed services specialist, SAS.

“We wanted a standardised infrastructure that allowed us to have highly centralised systems,” said Raj. “BT recommended SAS because it believed that SAS had a much better understanding of our infrastructure requirements at a high level.”

“When people understand the importance of getting the infrastructure right, that’s the key,” continued Raj. “What I found with SAS was that I didn’t have to talk about cabling per se; right from the start discussions were primarily around answering questions on how we should operate in the 21st century.”

Impressed with these credentials and satisfied that he would retain the security of working with BT, Raj decided to move forward with SAS and together they started working on the blueprints for the infrastructure’s design.

Once designs were approved, SAS installed its first engineering team at Think’s Earls Court site in Warwick Road, and following in the wake of the building’s construction team, commenced work on the project.

Just a few months after the start of the Warwick Road project, further teams began work at Think’s London Bridge and Tower Bridge Road construction sites.
For each apartment complex, SAS is installing CAT6 structured cabling to provide IP connectivity for Internet access, television and telephony. To accommodate the scale of each building and provide increased resilience and efficiency, each floor is equipped with two separate comms cabinets. Fibre and voice backbone cabling are also installed to connect all floors and these are terminated in basement located comms rooms, also provided by SAS.

“By designing our infrastructure in this way, it is very easy to run a 24/7 business without spending hundreds of thousands of pounds,” said Raj. “Simple considerations like having two separate comms cabinets on each floor mean that we don’t have to replicate the architecture of our cabling structure or find significantly different routes in order to achieve very high resilience; it also means we can bring in new services without a lot of difficulty or additional cost.”

To-date, six floors of the Warwick Road complex are now functional and much of the London Bridge site has been completed.

“We’re not like many other companies, we’re a construction company and a rental business and because of this we don’t wait for buildings to be complete before we launch them,” said Raj. “Not many suppliers know how to work in that environment or how to follow the path of development, in terms of infrastructure and operations.”

With work on the Warwick Road complex scheduled for completion by the middle of 2011 and London Bridge approaching closure this year, Raj has already earmarked several additional projects for SAS.

“SAS’s involvement is more than cabling; they’ll also be involved with our CCTV, access controls and wireless systems,” said Raj. “It wouldn’t surprise me if in a year’s time we’re putting in more new technology that no one else has and SAS will probably be involved with that too.”

“Being given this great opportunity to work with Think Apartments has really emphasised the value of our partnership with BT,” said Charles Davis, CEO of SAS Global Communications. “Raj’s commitment to finding the right solution will I’m sure pay dividends for Think and I hope his experience with SAS will also mark the beginning of a long and successful relationship between our collective companies.”

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