Hempsons Solicitors cuts costs with Enterasys network

Legal health specialist Hempsons Solicitors rips out its existing Cisco infrastructure for increased functionality and cost savings

The network in any firm is of upmost importance but is often the last piece of the puzzle to be upgraded in a company. But with more data travelling across networks than ever before and the need for increasing functionality, firms must often bite the bullet and look to new systems.

One such organisation is Hempsons Solicitors. It specialises in offering legal services in the health and social care sector, with clients in the NHS and the private healthcare sector.

Hempsons Solicitors had been a long-term customer of Cisco, setting up its initial network using 2900, 3500 and 3700 series switches. However, it needed to think about better performance, namely 10GbE, for the increasing use of virtualisation technologies and the roll-out of VoIP for its communications.

“We were getting so many slow-downs and lock-ups that the complaints were increasing – particularly when it was taking 10-15 seconds just to open an email,” says Brett Raymond, IT manager at Hempsons.

Cisco tools were able to provide the performance, but the consultant brought in to plan the upgrade – NETprotocol – claimed this would be very costly and complex, despite the familiarity of the staff with the brand and product lines.

The Enterasys proposal came in at half the capital cost of upgrading the Cisco system – which was a particularly nice surprise

Brett Raymond, IT manager at Hempsons Solicitors

Mike Batters, technical director of NETprotocol, says: “It would have been easy enough to look at upgrading the Cisco system because it was familiar technology and their IT management and staff understood how it worked. And also the brand is well known and trustworthy.

“But when we had looked at what they needed as a business – not only immediately but for the development and growth of their activity – we took a broader view.”

Batters instead put forward a new system from Enterasys, which soon won over Raymond.

“When I got the Enterasys proposal, it offered a much more feature-rich solution which was highly credible and came in at half the capital cost of upgrading the Cisco system – which was a particularly nice surprise,” he says.

As well as cuts in cost for the initial roll-out, the firm expects to save £80,000 in its first year and a further £15,000 to £20,000 annually from maintenance costs.

But it was additional features that really sold it to the solicitors. One in particular was integration with Twitter, which would alert IT staff to any problems in the network through a tweet.

When we had looked at what they needed as a business – not only immediately but for the development and growth of their activity – we took a broader view

Mike Batters, technical director of NETprotocol

“The system is interrogated through Twitter which means we can manage the system from a personal mobile phone,” says Raymond. “We have to make sure it is working 24/7 and to be able to do this through Twitter means we don’t need to carry around two devices all the time.”

Cisco was also unable to provide the single point of management needed to add a wireless network to the existing wired deployment. The management tool from Enterasys meant the wireless deployment Hempsons had been delaying could be rolled out much faster.

“With the Cisco system there are two platforms for wired and wireless and they speak the same language, but with Enterasys this is all in one screen,” adds Raymond. “This means we could introduce wireless immediately.”

The process was short, taking just six weeks including the initial analysis of competitors. The first installation was completed in July 2012, but the wireless and a BYOD option for staff was added to the network this year.

Now all the products – namely two Enterasys S-series for the core, B5 and A4 series switches, Netsight Management Software, Enterasys IdentiFi wireless controller and access points, and Mobile IAM – are up and running, Hempsons hopes the infrastructure will meet their needs for seven to 10 years.

Raymond sings both Enterasys’ and NETprotocol’s praises.

“They looked at everything in detail and really interrogated the feasibility of the Enterasys system against what we needed to do,” he says. “The fact that Enterasys has already worked in the health and NHS environment – at Bart’s Health NHS Trust – meant they understood our needs while NETprotocol managed the entire upgrade from start to finish.”

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