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Unify: Complex WAN optimisation service project made simple with BT professional services

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Overview

BT Connect Acceleration speeds up applications across the Unify global network

When BT recommended its Connect Acceleration WAN optimisation service to help solve application response issues for Unify , it cured one headache for Christoph Pscherer. It could easily have caused another, however.

Christoph could see that installation at data centres and 40 other global sites would be a complex process. That was reckoning without BT professional services.

BT took care of everything from ordering and shipping the hardware to dealing with customs issues,” says Christoph. “BT also organised and supervised local engineers carrying out the work. We had a few technical issues, but overall the project went very well indeed.”

Problem solved. Headache avoided. Happy customer.

Challenge

A global unified communications leader, Unify – formerly known as Siemens Enterprise Communications was formed in 2008 as a joint venture between Siemens AG and a US private equity firm.

Christoph Pscherer, IT Network and Voice Services Manager at Unify, recalls: “One of the first challenges was to separate out the joint venture from the Siemens AG infrastructure. We had to create our own wide area network in order to do that.”

With a diverse worldwide workforce of around 14,000 people, software performance has to be virtually instantaneous at even the most remote locations. With business application servers based at centrally located data centres, the network is critical to achieving that aim.

Chosen by Unify for its global reach, a BT IP Connect network platform now connects 140 sites in 35 countries across all continents. Christoph continues: “The BT MPLS network is reliable but, with bandwidth demands constantly growing, we needed application response times to keep pace.”

Solution

Unify knew that boosting end-to-end network performance would avoid the cost of increasing core network bandwidth. The company was also embarking on a major server consolidation programme and saw WAN optimisation as a key enabler in both cases.

“We had looked into WAN optimisation techniques but the costs at first seemed prohibitive,” says Christoph Pscherer, “until BT came forward with a managed service that both met our needs and was financially viable.”

BT proposed using Connect Acceleration, its managed WAN optimisation service at key network nodes. This would be based on Steelhead® products from Riverbed Technology. “Such a solution prevents ‘chatty applications’ from monopolising WAN bandwidth,” explains Christoph Pscherer.

Value

With much less data passing over the WAN, Unify is enjoying new levels of network performance. That means faster application response times leading to greater efficiency, improved productivity, and enhanced customer service. Meanwhile, buying costly additional bandwidth has been avoided.

BT Connect Acceleration is a fully managed service that includes the provision of regular reports on network, server, and application performance statistics. Those reports also provide early warnings of potential network bottlenecks.

“The latest BT WAN optimisation reports show that a massive data reduction of 76 per cent has already been achieved,” concludes Christoph Pscherer. “That figure is likely to be exceeded because, although we’re focusing on file server and email traffic right now, we’re planning to extend the solution to other applications.”
 
BT is now in discussion with Siemens Enterprise Communications to further enhance the WAN to better serve home-based employees or people working remotely around the world with Steelhead® Mobile from Riverbed.

Core BT Services

  • IP Connect global MPLS platform serving 140 sites in 35 countries across all continents
  • Connect Acceleration – using BT provided and managed Riverbed Steelhead® WAN optimisation technology

Technical

A quick technical tour around the BT Connect Acceleration service

Based on Riverbed technology, the BT Connect Acceleration service is designed to speed the performance of applications between data centres, remote offices, and mobile workers. It’s part of a suite of repeatable managed services that audit, monitor, and optimise application performance. As enterprises look to do more with fewer resources, a managed service environment relieves them of the challenges of dealing with multiple vendors. BT has already deployed its service suite to 600 customers globally, and has over 4,000 managed endpoints in 90 countries.

Connect Acceleration range and results
Riverbed came top in rigorous assessments conducted by BT on all leading WAN optimisation technology vendors. As well as data compression, the Riverbed-based technology intercepts traffic and checks whether it’s been sent across the network before. In this way repetitive transfers are avoided and only new data is transmitted, reducing WAN traffic by up to 95 per cent. Riverbed addresses bandwidth and latency constraints for the broadest range of applications of any WAN optimisation vendor on the market. The Riverbed solution delivers direct benefits for all TCP-based applications including CXIFS, Mapi, Mapi2003, NFS, MS-SQL (TDS), HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, Oracle11i, and countless other applications.

Unify service architecture
BT is a Riverbed Technology Global Service Provider Partner with the in-depth capability to design, deploy, and manage Riverbed solutions on a global basis. In fact, the Connect Acceleration implementation for Unify required the installation and commissioning of Steelhead appliances at data centres and around 40 other sites worldwide. In redundant configurations for resilience, large data centres took two Steelhead appliances. Each of the remote locations is served by a single Steelhead appliance.

Differentiated services
BT WAN optimisation benchmarking service compares customers against industry best practice, while BT is the only service provider with a dedicated independent test and development facility to enable customers to decide on the right optimisation solution. Post-sale, BT offers a differentiated service including monthly analysis, recommendations, and insights. BT is always ahead in innovation – for example, it was the first to test and prototype WAN optimisation virtual appliances for use with virtual data centre and cloud solutions.

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