Unify: BT managed network service eases divestment and lets global technology company focus on core business

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BT provides Unify with optimised WAN services to 125 locations in 35 countries

Spinning out a business unit from a corporation into a standalone company is no easy task. There are literally hundreds of things to consider, not least the separation of IT systems and networks.

That was the challenge faced by Guenther Ernst, CIO at Unify, a the newly formed company previously known as Siemens Enterprise Communications. Looking for a single network operator he saw that BT had the scale and reach to support the new company globally.

The rest is history. Following a successful migration, BT assisted the company to improve application performance and get better value from its network. Was Unify impressed? Well, it’s extended the BT contract to 2017.

BT has been Unify’s global supplier for WAN and internet access services since 2008. The contract between us was extended due to BT’s outstanding performance and flexibility, our satisfaction, and the terms and conditions offered.”
- Guenther Ernst, Chief Information Officer Siemens Enterprise Communications


Unify was created in 2008 as a joint venture between Siemens AG and a US-based private equity firm. It’s a global unified communications leader with a presence in more than 100 countries.

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

In need of a single network operator with the scale and reach to support the company on a global basis, Unify chose BT.


The heart of the BT solution is IP Connect, a global MPLS-based wide area network (WAN) that connects 125 Unify locations in 35 countries across Europe, Asia Pacific, North and South America, as well as a single site in Africa. Locations served include the Unify headquarters in Munich together with key sites like Irving in Texas, Boca Raton in Florida, São Paulo, Mumbai, Shanghai, Vienna, and Nottingham in the UK.

The network supports a wide range of traditional business applications, as well as product development traffic, document management systems, and inter-site IP telephony. To safeguard quality of service five different classes of service are used, assigned to ensure that the appropriate priority is given to each data packet.
BT also supplies Unify with its gateway to the internet, and provides managed security and secure remote access services on a global basis. The whole network is proactively managed by BT.

Christoph Pscherer says: “Overall the service is very reliable but if ever there is a problem BT usually takes action before we even know about it. BT always keeps us well informed of the situation using a variety of email, SMS, and voice messages.”

Unify recently investigated the potential of WAN optimisation. With demand for bandwidth growing all the time, making better use of the existing network would help avoid the cost of increasing core bandwidth.

BT proposed its Connect Acceleration WAN optimisation service featuring Steelhead® devices from Riverbed Technology. This managed solution, which has been deployed at key network nodes, combines data compression and data reduction techniques and has already reduced WAN traffic by 76 per cent.


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

“We have been very pleased with the service BT provides and, with the initial three-year contract term coming to an end, we recently opened negotiations to extend the contract until 2014,” confirms Christoph Pscherer. “As part of the new agreement BT has committed to deliver year-on-year cost savings of up to 12 per cent.”

Having a single global network supplier has administrative benefits too. Christoph Pscherer concludes: “We no longer need to worry about network technology, because BT does that for us. The managed service frees us from the burden of day-to-day issues, allowing us to concentrate on our core business.”


Differential service categories
To security cost effective WAN deployment, each site was assigned a standard of service dependent upon business need. There are three categories of service designated silver, gold, and platinum. Silver sites have a single connection to the IP Connect network, gold sites have a single connection with back-up circuits, and platinum sites have full redundancy. Each has its own SLA and there’s a range of access speeds from 500kbps to 450Mbps.

Secure internet access
High bandwidth Internet Connect Global internet access services enable connectivity for the whole company through BT hosted data centres in Munich and Atlanta. At these locations BT provides the proxy servers supporting internet access, protected by BT managed firewalls. BT also provides Unify domain name server (DNS) and mail relay services globally.

Flexible working
With a diverse global workforce, many of who are fully mobile, the ability to work flexibly is vital. Around ten thousand Unify people have the BT MobileXpress secure remote access service. It enables secure VPN connectivity to the Unify corporate network from wherever there’s an internet connection, anywhere in the world.

Early warning
BT provides a single point of contact service desk and a wide range of regular reports that demonstrate SLA performance. Of particular value is the Connect Acceleration report as this includes network statistics that provide early warning of potential network bottlenecks.

Core BT Services

  • BT IP Connect global, MPLS- based platform serving 125 sites in 35 countries
  • BT Internet Connect global
  • BT Compute data centre hosting services
  • BT Managed Firewall Security, DNS, and mail relay services
  • BT MobileXpress secure remote access
  • BT Connect Acceleration featuring BT provided and managed Riverbed Steelhead® WAN optimisation technology
  • BT managed service wrap including single point of contact


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