ICI is poised to sign a deal that could save it millions of pounds by allowing it to transfer non-essential internet traffic from its wide area network onto a secure broadband link based on DSL consumer technology.
With non-essential traffic removed, the Wan would be reserved for transferring business-critical data. This would allow the chemicals company to run its network for far longer without upgrading its bandwidth.
The company has drawn up a shortlist of suppliers to provide the necessary global service to supply highly secure DSL-based internet access for staff working across its international office network. It hopes to have signed a global deal for a managed security service by the end of the year, which should pave the way for the new network to be in place in the first half of next year.
ICI's Wan connects its 30,000 employees worldwide, but a recent internal audit of the firm's network usage found that 30% of traffic was browser-based.
Paul Simmonds, chief security officer at ICI, said that there were potentially big savings to be made by "offloading internet usage".
He said the main stumbling block to adopting the strategy had been finding a suitable managed network provider to secure ICI's global staff from internet security threats, but a deal was now looking likely.
Simmonds called the architecture required a "within-cloud filtering service" which would make use of multiple low-cost local DSL broadband network connections to link employees' networked PCs to the internet via the secure service.
The approach will effectively replicate the sophisticated IT security found inside ICI's Wan, including firewall, anti-virus, intrusion protection and content filtering.
Robert Whiteley, senior analyst at Forrester Research, said, "We are seeing a number of industries where 50% of the traffic on their network is internet traffic."
With multimillion-pound annual charges for running a global Wan, Whiteley said a large company could make substantial cost savings if it sends this traffic elsewhere.
Large companies have tried to achieve this in the past by deploying local DSL connections and hardware security appliances in regional offices, but Whiteley said the infrastructure was typically hard to keep up-to-date. "ICI's approach is unique", he said.
Simmonds said the project was based on a concept he helped to develop for IT security user group the Jericho Forum.
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