Project Description

Stride Treglown architects get improved communication links with WAN from Net Support UK

Since 1953 Stride Treglown has achieved an unparalleled track record for delivering innovative, creative and sustainable architectural design solutions and a package of complementary services, all of which have been developed to support the changing needs of their clients.

Working with a diverse range of public and private sector clients, the company focuses on listening, delivering projects on time, within budget, being ‘nice people’ to work with and always exceeding expectations. They work to maximise the potential of each site, minimising any environmental impact through considered design.

Stride believes it is unique in its approach as a business that thrives on making the most of its staff and their relationships with clients, offering bespoke packages and specialist support.

Business drivers

The IT team at Stride Treglown wanted to find a way to improve site to site communication whilst, if possible, reducing overheads related to telephony. Having eight offices in the UK, each with its own PBX and ISDN lines, it meant that a group solution was required to reduce the management, simplify the billing and move away from fixed-line call charges. This would produce better cost savings too. The team also found that they were suffering with the quality of site to site calls which would often cut out completely.

For Internet and communication links, the solution had to offer stable bandwidth that met current and future requirements. Stride had experienced poor service from their existing ISP and as the leased lines were coming to the end of their contracts, they saw it as an opportunity to select a new provider. Data and bandwidth requirements across the company had increased since the start of their previous contract – particularly the need for home workers to connect onto the network remotely.

Finally, it was important that any migration caused minimal disruption to users and that each office could be connected one at a time and that the old systems and new systems would work seamlessly with each other. The office by office approach ensured that the new system was delivering exactly what the business required before scaling it up across the whole organisation. This also worked well because the existing lines had differing expiry dates reflecting Stride’s growth over the past few years.

The story

Stride Treglown had already contracted Net Support UK for the Internet connection to its Cardiff office. After a consultation meeting with the client, NSUK designed a Wide Area Network (WAN) solution that enabled better inter-office traffic throughout without it transferring onto the public Internet. This private cloud meant that the offices could conduct daily business such as file transfers, backups and VoIP calls at speeds of 40Mbps securely. As 100Mbps fibre optic bearers have been installed to each location, the company has the ability to upgrade the private cloud bandwidth when it is required. The offices also share the Internet breakout from the cloud making it cost-effective too.

The head office, based in Bristol, required more bandwidth as backups were taken from all the sites overnight and they wanted to ensure that the head office was not a traffic bottle-neck.

Each office was dealt with as a separate phase with an overlap between connection to the new service and disconnection of the older lines, to ensure they were fully operational and met the customer’s acceptance criteria before hand-over. Once each office was ‘live’ and had joined to the private cloud, SIP Gateways were installed and the numbers were ported over to SIP channels so that the ISDNs could be cancelled. Most transfers occurred at weekends so there was no disruption to staff.

The SIP traffic also remains ‘on net’ as Net Support UK has a connection directly to its SIP provider. All voice traffic is prioritised over data traffic between sites. Stride Treglown now has eight sites connected to the private cloud and with SIP channels.

While it has been a technically complex solution to configure, it now delivers a simple and effective service to the customer and, importantly, can be properly supported by our team of network engineers.

Benefits and results

On completion of the project the IT team reported on the savings gained instantly, particularly on fixed costs of ISDN lines. Mapped over time, the graph, provided by Stride Treglown, shows a significant reduction against its expected charges.

One of the attractions is that if one site fails, unlike with an MPLS, no other site is affected by the outage. This provides lower risk and an easier disaster recovery strategy. However, Stride feels confident that the ‘leased lines’ from Net Support UK provide a reliable service with strong SLA’s, should there be any issues.

The scope for home-working has increased as the new infrastructure enables VPN servers to be set up which will receive remote workers at any site– this also provides redundancy within the home-working setup as well as avoiding any potential bandwidth issues from late-night backups.
The inter-office ‘PBX-to-PBX’ calls now have much more bandwidth available to them and consequently do not break up any more. This was a frustration for staff as well as the IT department.

At current work levels there is sufficient bandwidth capacity at every site, however another advantage of this solution is that one office can have its bandwidth increased – quickly and easily without disruption to others – and this can be conducted in locations only where it is needed. There is also flexibility to provide greater bandwidth between sites or to the Internet on a short-term basis – for example, if two locations are collaborating on an architectural project.

In conclusion

While the fixed line telephone cost savings have been dramatic, they have been almost an additional benefit to the project’s success. The improvements in the network for home-working, site to site connectivity and elimination of office call problems have led to improved productivity throughout the organisation.

The private cloud in which the different offices connect offers better security and flexibility without the need for an MPLS. As businesses look more to technology to drive down cost and improve productivity, it’s important that the solution can adapt with innovation.
For us, it’s about working smarter, not harder.

“Over the past few years Stride Treglown has changed the way that it handles business change projects for the better. With an approach of “there’s no such thing as an IT project,” business change projects are driven by actual business requirements with the IT Service Desk providing technical input when necessary. By driving projects in this way we ensure that solutions have genuine and relevant business impact rather than just being one-sided initiatives and end up being shelved or unused.

Our connectivity projects with NSUK were no exception to this rule. The business drivers focussing on inter-office flexibility and cost reduction allowed them to build a solution which focussed on our site-to-site traffic, whereas previous solutions had been focussed on internet traffic which Stride uses less than the site-to-site traffic but which actually costs a lot more.

Net Support have been periodically reviewing our setup and ensuring that the solution still fits our needs in the best way possible.”

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