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Kevin Connell, Group Information Officer.
Circle was formed when the Circle 33 housing group merged with the Anglia housing group in July 2005. The new organisation had numerous legacy network connections and service providers. In addition, smaller satellite offices responsible for providing housing assistance to elderly people in 3,374 properties were not connected to the network.
With urgent demand from employees and resident scheme managers for greater access to centralised information that would enable them to be more productive, Circle turned to Claranet in 2006 to implement an MPLS network. The new network connected the majority of its sites and delivered enhanced network performance, along with a range of other benefits, such as enabling extensive use of IP-based video conferencing. Also, with Claranet as the sole service provider, the network was simpler and easier to manage.
However, as Circle went on to experience further growth - both organically and through acquisition - it found itself again working with a range of service providers. This, combined with requirements for even better network performance and traffic visibility, meant that in 2010 Circle put out a new tender for a consolidated MPLS network to connect over 200 sites. The tender also prescribed increased security for on-site servers hosting the organisation’s websites and applications as an important requirement.
Circle is bound by regulations that require a comprehensive review of the market before the selection of a supplier. As such, tender responses from twelve service providers were received and reviewed before Claranet was selected, against high quality competition, as the association’s preferred core networking provider.
Claranet’s solution was a new network that would link over 200 sites with ADSL connectivity and feed into the core MPLS network. The network would replace legacy point-to-point topology with a hub-and-spoke design, which offers greater redundancy to protect against any points of failure. Additionally, the network would connect twelve offices with diverse routes to provide resiliency, ensuring performance and uptime of Circle’s network.
Claranet’s solution also involved moving Circle’s existing servers to Claranet’s data centre facility. By doing this, Circle would benefit from better security and reduced risk, as vital applications and information would be hosted off-site in a more stable, secure environment.