Norfolk Councils join with Claranet to provide better services

Executive summary

Challenge: A group of local authorities in Norfolk is showing the way towards a more efficient and cost-effective public sector, by implementing a shared high-performance network service from Claranet.

Solution: Broadland District Council, Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, South Norfolk Council and North Norfolk District Council are now connected by Claranet's private MPLS network which is enabling them to share critical council services such as Building Control and Revenue & Benefits.

Result: More cost-effective services for the residents of all four local authorities, greater flexibility and collaboration, and significant cost-savings.

Linking multiple councils

Previously, the various council departments that made up CNC Building Control were spread over several sites and linked by a low-bandwidth network which was only suitable for basic communications.

While we wanted to improve communications among the various departments and premises that made up CNC Building Control, we realised that this was an opportunity to implement a platform that would help us achieve something much more significant and strategic.
A robust, resilient and secure network between council sites would improve collaboration between councils, allow us to share infrastructure costs, add new services that would benefit our operational efficiency, and improve the services we provide to residents.

John Wickens
IT Technical Architect and Compliance Officer at South Norfolk Council

Managed network solution

Claranet designed, implemented and managed a fully managed MPLS network solution for the group of Norfolk councils. The new solution includes a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which runs exclusively across Claranet's private MPLS network, not touching the internet, and a hosted internet telephony (VoIP) service which prioritises telephony traffic.

Claranet takes full responsibility for managing the network, ensuring high availability and performance, while also managing the process of allocating network resources to each party depending on their current needs.

The new Norfolk network runs over Claranet’s core network, which is comprised of enterprise-grade infrastructure components. The network supports speeds of up to 100Mbps, while Claranet staff can constantly monitor and manage the network.

A single network tailored for each council

The new Norfolk network from Claranet creates, for the first time, a fast, high-bandwidth and secure link between the participating councils, and provides them with a robust platform on which they can add new services. A key feature of the Claranet network is that resources can quickly be allocated to different councils and types of traffic, depending on priority.

The network does not require any new physical infrastructure between the sites as the whole service runs over Claranet’s own network. The result is that no single council need own nor depend on the service, so anyone can withdraw from the project without affecting the project’s overall success. It also enables local authorities to configure the network differently for their own needs; for example, if they want to prioritise traffic, allocate network resources or make individual arrangements over how resilient they want their connectivity to be.

Budget and time efficiencies

With a single network hosted in one data centre and available to multiple councils, we can achieve fantastic efficiencies.
Without Claranet, we would be duplicating the time, effort and expenditure – both capital and operational – spent on running individual services. In today’s world, and today’s public sector, that kind of unnecessary overspend is increasingly unacceptable.

Other benefits include:

  • greater operational resilience, as the network enables workers to access critical services from other premises should a business continuity event occur
  • less need for time-consuming maintenance and management on the old point-to-point infrastructure

Throughout, Claranet has been the perfect partner. They took the time listen to us, understand our needs and accommodate our ideas into the final service. It was very refreshing not to be given the ‘big sell’; they did not force a pre-packed solution on us, but instead designed and delivered a service that will bring benefits to Norfolk and its taxpayers for many years to come.

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