SAS’s Professional Services are the start of our customer journey and aim to achieve three core things: (1) set the correct project scope (2) highlight all project interdependencies (3) get the project delivered right first time. Our Professional Services are designed to provide well considered and completely impartial advice from the outset. This guidance is based on the experience we have accrued from more than 60,000 ICT projects for many of the most respected brands in the corporate mid-market.
Our Professional Services are technical ‘people-based’ services (consultancy, project management, engineering etc) that wrap around our primarily ‘systems-based’ Managed Services Portfolio. Whether you’re upgrading an existing WAN, LAN, server infrastructure or application - or creating a totally new solution - we can provide up-to-the-minute skills to help design, deploy, and support the optimum converged environment for your business.
We take the view that successful ICT project deployment is not about delivering a single element (for example a circuit) but about developing a cohesive infrastructure that provides end-users the best possible experience of the applications. To do this we look across all interdependencies and recommend the most appropriate technologies. Our recommendations draw on 25 years' network learning, 15 years’ experience designing & implementing server infrastructure and 15 years’ application development experience.
During our time we have noted some interesting and worrying trends: that many technology projects are initially under-scoped by up to 40%; that up to 80% of the support required by customers is during the in-life phase; that alarmingly less than 5% of organisations monitor the performance of their applications. We believe that by providing the best possible advice we can engineer-out risk... and build agility and flexibility into our customers’ technology environments. It’s about earning your trust.
SAS’s Professional Services wrap around our Managed Services Portfolio as detailed in the graphic below. This combination enables SAS to Consult, Design, Deploy and Support technology environments with the overarching aim of consistently (and cost effectively) delivering great IT user experience for our customers, day-in and day-out.
Our customer engagement process is highlighted in the simplified graphic shown below. The flow diagram underpins the four stages of our customer engagement operation detailed earlier, namely: Consult, Design, Deploy and Support. We maintain the discipline of high technical competency at all stages. Our project managers (as just one example) are non-standard. Prince 2 trained, but with a strong technical background on top so that they have the extra spatial awareness and skills needed to not only optimise scheduling - but identify interdependencies too.
One of the key elements of our engagement process is supporting the refinement of the Statement of Requirement. This piece of work is critical and the time spent here will reduce the issues and incidents that arise during in-life management. While we fully appreciate that many customer requirements are restricted by budget, we will work with you to clearly outline the impact of each decision. Our unashamed aim is to ensure your journey with us is a good one. Happy customers translate into renewals, trusted relationships, and your success… and that’s our goal.
Our Technical Design service enables you to scope and construct the optimum solution to support your business requirements. Our service helps customers shape the application specification, technical architecture, infrastructure design, and carrier and vendor selection. Our comprehensive Technical Design audit identifies any interdependencies existing between your current and proposed infrastructure. More simply, our Technical Design service is designed to help get customers from where they are now, to where they want to be by providing a clear set of options.
In our experience, most technology migrations are under-scoped by 30-40% which exposes clients to all sorts or risks. This is compounded by the regrettable fact that many legacy LANs, WANs, server infrastructure and applications have been developed in isolation and while they may cope with current business demands, they may struggle when new technologies are introduced. At that point, the danger is that you discover the circuits are wrong, server performance is inadequate, that you have capacity or class of services issues and the applications are not compatible. But at that point it’s too late. We believe it’s risky to make assumptions… and we don’t.
Our Provisioning Services Management is a complete procurement, administration and support service for both national & international converged WAN installations. In our opinion, provisioning is one of the most under-valued aspects of the delivery cycle and is the very reason too many projects falter from the outset. We see it differently. We see provisioning as one of the most important aspects of project planning since it has the highest impact on the critical path.
It is a surprising fact, but irrespective of the circuit type there are approximately 60 steps to delivery. The perception that you simply press a button and the circuit is delivered on time, every time is wildly inaccurate. Effective provisioning is about never assuming anything. It’s about checking and getting confirmation at every step of the way. Our PSM staff are engaged from the very first project initiation meeting to ensure that the delivery of circuits and associated hardware dovetail perfectly with the implementation plan.
As you would expect, all of our Network Engineering staff have a strong routing and switching background. We are very clear regarding the basic principle that each network is unique, and each customer’s requirement is different. Throughout our 25 year journey, we’ve seen huge diversity and soaked up an unparalleled learning and experience. This includes 3,000+ network related projects annually ranging from modest 3-6 site operations, to 800 site organisations spanning the globe.
The primary role of our Network Engineering division is to ensure the discipline of high technical standards. This not only guarantees success during the configuration, testing and acceptance process, but importantly it also ensures that when the network transitions to our Network Operations Centre (NOC) for 24/7 support there are fewer incidents downstream. To underpin this quality control policy we allocate a lead network engineer to every project.
ICT convergence means that network, application and infrastructure are no longer separate entities. They are strung together like a pulley system - pull on one strand and the others move and distort. The challenge is finding the balancing point where the three entities work optimally together. SAS was one of the UK’s first service providers to anticipate, advise upon and address these critical interdependencies.
In simple terms, it means that interoperability and interconnectivity between legacy software, hardware, and operating systems must be predicted and overcome; that operating differences between Cloud and on-premise delivery models need to be anticipated; that disaster recovery environments take into account both data and application backup; and that the benefits of new technologies do not increase security risks. Our Managed Infrastructure Services include Virtualisation, Cloud Services, Server Hardware, Backup & Archiving, Storage… and more.
SAS’s Physical Infrastructure portfolio comprises five core services including: WiFi access points, Cabling, Comms Room Services through to Office IT Moves and Comms Room Tidying. We believe that strong IT foundations are built on exacting physical infrastructure standards. Accordingly, we have invested heavily in this area and our customers include some of the UK’s biggest names including Starbucks, The Body Shop, Burger King, Coca Cola, Hilton Hotels and Euro Car Parts… to name a few.
We’ve provided physical infrastructure services on everything from small office environments to 900-room hotels; we’ve refreshed the access points across some of the UK largest WiFi estates; we’ve linked offices via Laser Line-of-Site; we’ve installed Satellite connectivity to organisations in remote areas; we’ve installed many hundreds of Bonded 3G/4G solutions. The stats alone speak volumes: over 12,000 km of cabling, more than 17,000 WiFi access points and more than half a million network access points.
SAS is distinguished by the fact that it is not only able to design and develop custom-built applications (Web, Windows & Open Source) but it is also able to monitor both application performance and the full application path. This includes the three critical interlinking layers of network, infrastructure and application performance. The net result is that SAS is uniquely able to identify, isolate and address technology performance issues and help optimise the end-user's experience of business critical applications.
It is this rounded capability, backed by an unswerving commitment to high standards, that makes SAS the partner of choice for some of the UK’s most progressive organisations: Health Edge, Debt line, G4S, Waterloo Housing Association, Hayley and EDF energy to name but a few. Our portfolio of Application Services cover 12 distinct services including custom application development, application audit & performance monitoring, application hosting & connectivity, through to in-house developer support and business intelligence services.
SAS’s comprehensive quality accreditations are detailed in the gallery shown earlier. When it comes to QA, the old adage ‘more haste, less speed’ was never more apt. The result of rushed technology projects can be bad user experience, sluggish performance, an inability to perform at scale, wasted investment… and adverse PR. And it’s the bad press (internal or external) that tends to kill the benefits of many projects. QA testing is therefore critical to ensure projects are delivered 'right first time'. To ensure this, SAS robustly adheres to best practice ISO and ITIL standards throughout our Consult, Design, Deploy and Support programme.
As a first stage, capturing the full scope in the Statement of Requirement is critical. However, equally important in the QA process is the ‘linkage’ of the network, infrastructure and application elements to SAS’s monitoring systems for in-life support. This process (which we refer to as on-boarding) captures the granular detail including circuit bandwidth, site address, site contact details, and hardware configurations etc. Our systems also store network diagrams and equipment photographs down to individual nodes. This discipline of end-to-end quality assurance ensures projects transition smoothly from first engagement through deployment to in-life support.
Based on our 25 years’ experience, we find that 85% of the help required by customers is during the in-life stage. This is a direct consequence of the fluid business environment - be that office moves, acquisitions, mergers or growth. To address this challenge, SAS has invested more than £13m in its Network Operations Centre and its monitoring and management systems. This investment is designed to help us provide granular performance detail across the network, infrastructure and application layers detailed earlier.
The graphic below is a simplified representation of our Cloud Analytics Process – a core aspect of our in-life support. The data from our systems is analysed in our own data warehouse and accessed via the public and private Clouds. The reports generated are standard and advanced. The standard report is a monthly QoS report which is sent to all our managed accounts. The advanced reporting capability goes into greater detail and is part of our Service Relationship Manager or Technical Resource Manager options.
The Network monitoring and management stage includes WAN, LAN, WLAN, Internet, Point-to-Point (P2P), 3G/4G, Satellite, ISDN, PSTN and more. We provide this service across multiple partners including BT, Colt, Cisco HP and Viprinet… to name just a few.
The Infrastructure monitoring and management stage includes Server, Virtual Host, Environmentals, Storage and UPS. Again, we provide this service across multiple partners (and not just the infrastructure we sell) including HP, Cisco, VMware, Microsoft and Dell.
The Application monitoring and management stage includes Exchange, SQL / MY SQL, .NET, Custom Apps, Network OS and Web Services. This too operates across multiple vendors including MS Office 365, MS Azure, Linux, Symantec and Colt Ceano.
The primary aim of our Service Relationship Management option is to provide impartial tactical and strategic support for a customer’s technology estate during the in-life phase. This option is designed to ensure clients get the very best service out of carriers, vendors and contracted 3rd parties. This includes supporting routine moves, adds and changes activity (MAC). In many businesses this role is performed by an internal member of staff and is an existing cost.
SAS has strong relationships with virtually all of the major carriers and an enviable track record of breaking through the communication log-jams that often frustrate progress. Removing that hassle is certainly one key benefit, but it’s not just about getting the best out of suppliers. The SRM service is also designed to help customers review the performance of their technology environment to identify, isolate and address current issues – while also helping customers optimise their estate to meet future challenges.
The Technical Resource Manager is an in-life service option. The service provides a named senior technical consultant to lead on matters relating to the design and operation of the customer’s network estate. They will maintain up-to-date network diagrams and associated documentation relating to the client’s infrastructure. The role is designed to be highly consultative and aimed at ensuring the client’s technology environment is optimised for current and future requirements. It is intended to be viewed as an extension of the client’s in-house capability.
All our Technical Relationship Managers have a strong networking, switching and routing background and benefit from the pooled knowledge and experience of 3,000+ network related projects annually. This grounding provides an unsurpassed depth of knowledge and is aimed at blending both tactical and strategic network thought leadership to the client’s ICT planning. This includes acting as the Technical Design Authority for existing and ongoing work related to LAN, WAN, WLAN, Firewalls, WiFi, Switches & other technologies supported by SAS.