The AA rolls out managed service to support business-wide move to IP


The AA rolls out managed service to support business-wide move to IP

Cliff Saran

The AA is replacing its BT and Energis data and voice infrastructure with a managed service from Cable & Wireless to deliver cost savings and enable it to take advantage of advances in network technology.

The motoring organisation has linked its mainframe to a new Cable & Wireless network, as it embarks on a £10m, three-year upgrade of its business-critical IT infrastructure.

The AA is planning to upgrade its network to MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) by November to provide the infrastructure it requires to pilot voice over Internet Protocol systems during 2007.

The migration from one network service provider to a managed service provider is not without risk, given the business-critical nature of the AA's call centre infrastructure.

"We are changing the data network of our call centres, which run 24x7," said Trevor Didcock, director of IS at the AA. "It is a complex environment and the whole network needs to be tested."

The migration involves installing new network cables at the AA's call centres and booking time with the business to switch services over from BT to Cable & Wireless. Because the work could affect the AA's call centre operations, high-level executive support for the migration and close involvement with operational management has been critical to minimise disruption.

The AA's contract with Cable & Wireless encompasses a managed service covering all AA businesses, including roadside assistance and financial services, where Cable & Wireless will take full responsibility for the AA's existing voice, contact centre and data networks.

The motoring organisation is one of only a handful of companies that has a strategic relationship with Cable & Wireless.

The supplier has been undergoing a major restructuring this year.In June, Cable & Wireless completed the implementation of data link switching, which is designed to convert the Oslan communications protocol used by its Fujitsu customer management mainframe to IP. This will allow the mainframe to access the Cable & Wireless wide area network.

The company is also migrating its few remaining Netware applications onto IP.

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