Intranets, e-mail and databases are just some of the business applications that rely on network connectivity. If an organisation’s network fails, then many of the business processes that we take for granted quickly become disabled – impacting not only productivity but also profitability and customer service.
It is therefore essential that companies put in place safeguards to ensure their network availability is not compromised by system faults or outages. Hardware maintenance is an important part of this process, and unless managed effectively can lead to unnecessary downtime.
Scottish financial services firm Bright Grey has always prioritised network hardware maintenance, and turned to Computacenter to help enhance its existing service levels. As a result of the partnership, Bright Grey has been able to improve network fix times, thereby minimising the risk to business continuity and improving performance – and all for no extra cost.
Lifestyle protection provider.
Ensure day-to-day business operations are not impacted by problems with network performance or downtime.
Establish a responsive, cost-effective hardware maintenance service that draws on the expertise and resources of a specialist provider.
Less risk of network downtime and disruption as a result of improved maintenance response and fix times.
Computacenter has been delivering services to Bright Grey since the summer of 2004, and has a 3-year contract with the company until June 2007.
Bright Grey is a division of the Royal London Group, which is the second largest mutual life insurer in the UK. The group has more than 3.5 million customers, and offers a variety of products through bespoke divisions and brands, such as Bright Grey and Scottish Life.
Headquartered in Edinburgh, Bright Grey opened for business in early 2003 and offers a tailored range of protection products, such as life and critical illness cover. Bright Grey’s portfolio of products has been specifically designed to be flexible and affordable, and is available to individuals via an intermediary.
Responding to requests and queries from these customers is an essential part of day-to-day operations, and, like most financial services companies, technology plays an important role in this process. Although rarely seen by end users let alone customers, a company’s network is one of the most fundamental components of an IT infrastructure.
A network failure can bring a company to a grinding halt within minutes, and therefore its availability is critical. As Jonathan Forbes, architecture and infrastructure manager for Bright Grey, explains: “Our network is essential to the operation of the business. It supports more than 300 users and is the backbone to our extranet, which provides a vital link to intermediaries and partners. If the network goes down, it can quickly impact both the productivity and profitability of the company.”
Added value for no extra cost
Due to the mission-critical nature of its network, Bright Grey has always prioritised network maintenance and worked with external providers to help ensure availability.
When the company decided it wanted to enhance the existing provision for network hardware maintenance without impacting its operational costs, it turned to Computacenter. As Jonathan explains: “Various members of the IT department had worked with Computacenter before at other companies, and we decided to include it in our maintenance contract renewal assessment. When we benchmarked Computacenter with other suppliers, we discovered that we could benefit from a guaranteed response and fix time without incurring additional costs. Prior to this, we had only a guaranteed response time, which was not sufficient for such a critical area of our IT infrastructure.”
As a result, since the summer of 2004 Bright Grey’s network hardware - which includes more than 100 Cisco routers, switches and devices - has been covered by a comprehensive maintenance service from Computacenter. Tony McCandless, operations director for Computacenter Scotland, commented: “We are able to draw on a wealth of resources and expertise across the UK, which means we are able to respond and fix network hardware problems quickly and efficiently. As a result we are able to guarantee a four-hour fix service for Bright Grey sites in London, Edinburgh and Livingstone.”
The ability to offer a responsive and proactive service were key drivers behind Computacenter’s selection, as Jonathan explains: “We wanted a maintenance service provider that could respond to problems rapidly, and help decrease the risks around network availability. Computacenter is part of our response plan – if it failed to deliver and our network remained down, we would have to invoke disaster recovery, and move staff to different sites.”
Maintaining business continuity
Computacenter has already proved its ability to deliver after Bright Grey experienced a fault with a critical network component. “The component in question was supporting a significant part of our call centre operation, which meant we had to switch to back-up systems when it failed,” comments Jonathan. “Computacenter responded very quickly, and, as a result, helped to minimise any risk to business continuity.”
Improved response times are not the only benefit of the Computacenter service, as Jonathan confirms: “As an accredited but independent Cisco partner, we receive trusted and skilled advice from Computacenter. We have also been able to enhance maintenance service levels without having to increase our IT investment.
“We place a lot of trust in Computacenter, and hope to expand the depth of our relationship in the future,” adds Jonathan. “It has the ability to deliver much more than network hardware maintenance, and it is reassuring to know we are working with a partner that can scale up to meet our changing needs.”
This was first published in May 2005