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Thriving German software company consolidates communications on a global scale
Thriving German software company consolidates communications on a global scale
Software AG (SAG) had developed a complex global IT communications infrastructure, featuring over 300 individual contracts with more than 80 providers in 58 countries. New technologies were running alongside older ones.
But Dr Dirk Ventur had a different vision: a single service provider delivering a standardised and harmonised IP-based communications infrastructure as a managed service with full cost transparency, right across the corporation.
So it proved that by selecting BT as its prime contractor SAG took the first decisive step towards achieving its goals. In unifying its contracts for voice and data communications it has also created a far more flexible and resilient architecture. It’s reduced costs by around 25 per cent too. That’s great news for the company, its employees, and customers.
Our communications have now been standardised and made transparent, just as we wanted. Everything comes from one single source. BT and SAG have together managed to make the infrastructure so flexible that we also have a clear view of the individual elements at all times.”
- Dr Dirk Ventur, CIO and Head of Global Support, Software AG
Software AG (SAG) offers an extensive product and service portfolio covering all aspects of IT infrastructure for service-orientated architectures (SOAs). The company, headquartered in Darmstadt, Germany, has more than 6,000 employees serving 10,000 enterprise and public service customers across 70 countries.
SAG had developed a complex global IT communications infrastructure, with over 300 individual contracts tied to more than 80 providers in 58 countries. In addition, different technologies, some of them obsolete, were running side-by-side; these included frame relay, internet-based connections, and leased lines.
When SAG launched its “Communications Consolidation” (ComCon) project, headed by Dr Dirk Ventur, CIO and Head of Global Support, one of the priorities was to compile a list of requirements for a standardised and harmonised communications infrastructure right across the corporation.
SAG wanted clear service level agreements, tied in with transparency in its contracts, costs and procedures, plus centralised billing. Another priority was to have all communications services provided by a single source, as a fully managed solution. The plan was to hand over any necessary implementation to a single service provider, together with management of the WAN, fixed telephony, and PBXs.
In this context, a key requirement was the planned implementation of an international data WAN using multi-protocol label switching (MPLS).
We have to change our network frequently because of decisions made at short notice, so the flexibility of the new network was a major factor for us,” Dr Ventur explains. “Traditional topologies, based on different technologies at the various sites, had held us back quite considerably because of the long lead times required to make changes.”
SolutionOf the 12 European companies submitting tenders, BT was, according to Dr Ventur, “the only one with an appropriate holistic concept”, so SAG undertook to work with BT as the prime contractor. With BT’s extensive portfolio of networked IT services, this collaboration represented a decisive step towards achieving SAG’s goals of a harmonised infrastructure, standardised procedures, and centralised billing.
The IP Connect global MPLS-based WAN, which BT developed and implemented, connects over 40 sites.
The switchover was no problem – the teamwork was good and the link-up to the SAP interface went smoothly,” says Dr Ventur.
Dr Ventur says: “BT's flexibility and the fail-safe nature of our new network constitute true added value. Even though we frequently have to change our plans as a result of decisions made at short notice, we can now rely on a consistently high level of performance.”
SAG has saved around 25 per cent on its communications costs simply by unifying its contracts for voice and data. As initially hoped, the company can now count on reliable, direct service from one single provider in almost all areas of networking and communications.
SAG has also benefited from harmonising the management of its existing PBXs in 16 countries, as well as the management of fixed telephony in Germany and data communications in Germany and the UK.
The requirement for centralised billing is something else that BT has met in full. Dr Ventur explains: “Thanks to BT, we now have a straightforward, centralised invoicing procedure. BT also provides us with centralised support, including fault clearing.”
SAG’s corporate network contained a mixture of different technologies such as ATM backbone systems and frame relay. The BT solution includes the implementation and management of a BT IP Connect global MPLS-based WAN for more than 40 sites, the management of PBX installations at 20 sites, and fixed telephony services in Germany.
MPLS is an IP-based standard for converged networks that supports traffic prioritisation. Business-critical applications or time-sensitive applications such as IP telephony and videoconferencing, for example, are given priority over less time-critical applications such as email or internet access. MPLS constitutes a good starting point for moving more services on to the network and is the ideal vehicle for a transition to exclusively IP-based technologies. SAG has already used Voice over IP (VoIP) in the past – for example, to connect some of its main sites – and is planning to rely on it more heavily in future.
MPLS is particularly suitable for multinational companies such as SAG that have heterogeneous communications traffic at various sites. With its any-to-any IP VPN links, BT IP Connect offers every corporate site direct access to any other site. Dedicated point-to-point connections between individual subsidiaries are no longer necessary, which simplifies configuration and helps to avoid long lead times for adding new services.
The WAN combines speed with flexibility and fail-safe performance. Moreover, MPLS is more flexible than traditional network solutions – for example, if greater bandwidth is required at short notice or if additional sites need to be integrated into the network. For SAG – which has extended its international presence by adding 12 new subsidiaries in 10 countries since the start of its co-operation with BT – this flexibility is business-critical.
Core BT Services
- BT IP Connect global – MPLS-based network
- Management of existing PBX installations in 16 countries
- BT One Business Voice solution in Germany
- Management of data communications in Germany and the UK
- Centralised billing