Computer Weekly European User Awards for networking: 2014 winners

The winners have been announced for the Computer Weekly European User Awards for networking. See who made the top spots

Five innovative IT projects have been chosen as the winners of the Computer Weekly European User Awards for networking 2014.

The networking awards are designed to recognise innovation in network design, implementation and use of application to improve user business.

A panel of independent judges viewed entries across five categories: Public Sector Project, Best Technology Innovation, Supplier of the Year, Private Sector Project and Cloud Innovation.

The winners are:

  • Public Sector: Alder Hey Hospital, Victoria Hospital and Lancashire Teaching Hospital’s use of Imerja’s video as a service (VaaS)
  • Best Technology Innovation: Alquist
  • Supplier of the Year: Logicalis
  • Supplier of the Year Honourable Mention: Ruckus
  • Private Sector: Palletline

Public Sector winner: Alder Hey Hospital, Victoria Hospital and Lancashire Teaching Hospital’s use of Imerja’s video as a service (VaaS)

Imerja’s awards entry details how Alder Hey Hospital, Victoria Hospital and Lancashire Teaching Hospital implemented its video as a service (VaaS) to improve access to specialist care and enable healthcare professionals and patients to communicate remotely through the use of video technology and sharp audio links, regardless of their location.

Alder Hey Hospital, one of Europe’s biggest and busiest children’s hospitals, is using VaaS in the paediatric neurology department. The use of VaaS reduces time spent travelling and performing administration tasks, thereby enabling doctors and nurses to work more efficiently, maintain core focus on vital tasks and deliver high-quality care to a greater number of patients.

At Victoria Hospital, VaaS allows speech and language (SLT) specialists to provide potentially life-saving rapid response services, should patients experience difficultly eating or drinking and require emergency assistance. This is significantly reducing the number of hospital admissions.

Lancashire Teaching Hospital is using the system to enable patients to leave hospital earlier and perform remote dialysis at home with the confidence that a specialist is at hand to provide support should they require it, offering patients greater independence and improved quality of life.

Judges' comments

Jennifer Scott, networking editor at Computer Weekly: “Teleheath is a burgeoning industry in the UK, but one that all citizens will feel the benefit of. Simple to use, reliable systems like this are the future of the UK’s health service and it is great to see them in use today.”

Clive Longbottom, founder of Quocirca: “As healthcare moves from lots of general hospitals to fewer specialist ones, travel will become a major issue for many patients.  The use of telehealth can act as a triage system and can help GPs and other local health workers filter out those who do not need to attend a specialist clinic some distance away. 

“It also allows specialists to more effectively interact with each other, keeping up on the latest progress in healthcare, and allows for highly specialised consultants to be brought in to a case easily and speedily where required.”

Best Technology Innovation winner: Alquist

Alquist’s Celsius system uses a standard 50/125 fibre optic cable to optically measure temperature at 1m intervals across the whole of the datacentre.

Celsius can measure 20,000 temperature points using a single fibre-optic cable. The fibre is the sensor, so there are no wireless transmissions or electronic devices transmitting data, no batteries to replace and no maintenance required.

By monitoring temperature in high definition, datacentre managers can reduce costs (by allowing supply air temperatures to increase) and minimise the risk of downtime.

The system uses high-precision lasers and Raman back-scattering analysis techniques to measure the stokes/anti-stokes characteristics of the reflected light. The tiny variations in the colour of the reflected light allows the temperature of the fibre to be determined at 1m intervals along its entire length.

The impact of datacentre hotspots can be catastrophic. A single outage can close a datacentre for several hours and result in millions of pounds of losses.

Judges' comments

Longbottom: “As equipment densities in datacentres increase, the possibility of hotspots occurring grows. The need is for more granular measurement: the problem is that this becomes expensive and takes up more space and energy in the datacentre itself. This approach sounds truly innovative.”

Scott: “The Alquist solution does seem genuinely unique and has a hugely practical use that could really aid datacentre management.”

Supplier of the Year winner: Logicalis

In the four years since Loughborough University contracted Logicalis UK to design, build and run its hybrid cloud infrastructure, core network and unified communications suite, it has saved in excess of £3.5m and made long-term environmental gains, including 640 fewer metric tonnes of CO² output per annum. A virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) service completed in 2013 has afforded further benefits, including the more effective use of in-house IT resource, and a bring your own device (BYOD) initiative for travelling academics.

UK-based law firm DWF doubled in size in 12 months. It needed a new, more efficient video-conferencing system to encourage staff collaboration and better engage with clients. Logicalis’s ImmersiV video as a service (VaaS) is accessible via PCs, dedicated video screens and mobile devices. Since its deployment, the firm has seen a significant increase in the use of video-conferencing – 600% more video calls took place in April 2013 than in April 2012!

Guardian News and Media (GNM) contracted Logicalis to consolidate and virtualise its estate from 200 servers down to 12. A seven-year network managed services contract followed, as did the opportunity to design and deliver a collaborative workspace environment for GNM’s London and New York offices. Today, Logicalis has extended this service and is currently working in partnership with GNM to design standardised template ICT architectures that can be replicated as the business expands its networks internationally.

Logicalis’s high-density datacentre (HDDC) and cloud services are also connected into Janet (Joint Academic Network). This gives users of Janet, like Loughborough University, the ability to use Logicalis’s HDDC and cloud services without the constraints of the internet or capital costs incurred from building a shared private network.

This is all balanced with a dedicated CXO programme, for which Logicalis hosts quarterly CIO Dinners and sponsors the IT Innovators Club, both of which bring together senior IT decision-makers to discuss business challenges and market trends.

When Logicalis was brought in to replace an ageing network and datacentre infrastructure for Phones4U, it designed and built a network based on Cisco technology at the retailer. Including access, integration and core switches, Logicalis migrated Phones4U to the new agile infrastructure on time, on budget and with zero downtime.

Logicalis designed, built and operates the PSBA (Public Sector Broadband Aggregation) network on behalf of the Welsh government. Logicalis provides the public sector in Wales with a high-bandwidth ICT network linking more than 90% of the country’s public sector bodies.

Judges' comments

Longbottom: “My vote goes to Logicalis, for a well laid out entry that covers a lot of different case studies and shows a lot of different benefits, from green/sustainability through to business benefits through consolidation and also its collaboration and communications with its customers through, for example, CIO Dinners.”

Scott: "Logicalis’s entry is a great representative of UK networking technology making an impact globally and getting involved with some weighty projects to draw our attention.”

Supplier of the Year honourable mention: Ruckus

Ruckus’s high-capacity Smart Wi-Fi solutions and equipment has been deployed across global hotel chains, educational institutions, cities and even airports. 

One high-profile project in 2013 was the Wi-Fi deployment in the City of York. As part of its plans to deliver a modern connected city, the City of York Council deployed a high-capacity, high-speed, city-wide Smart Wi-Fi network. Ruckus Wireless was commissioned alongside managed services provider Pinacl to install aesthetically pleasing equipment that wouldn’t spoil the historic city.

The City of York attracts around seven million visitors a year and, prior to this deployment, was an already well-connected city with the largest metro fibre network in the UK, providing gigabit connections to nearly 200 locations.

The next stage of the plan was to connect three vital hubs in the city to provide an easy way for residents, visitors and businesses to access the council’s wide range of information services, without disrupting the architecture of one of the UK’s most historically important cities.

The council planners turned to Ruckus Wireless Smart Wi-Fi technology and Pinacl Solutions. York needed reliable Wi-Fi meshing, simple deployment, small, aesthetically pleasing form factor Access Points (APs), high capacity per AP, and extended range to reduce capex. With Pinacl, Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi products and technology provided everything to create a reliable and scalable Wi-Fi network.

Judges' comments

Scott: “Ruckus has embarked on a number of high-profile Wi-Fi projects in the past year, bringing much more reliable connectivity to the general public in stadia, venues, etc, and making the process simple for businesses wanting to adopt its solution. I can see it continuing to flourish across Europe.”

Private Sector winner: Palletline

Palletline’s private sector project Contrado has enabled significant change and improvement for Palletline and its member companies.

Palletline was the founder of the UK pallet network industry, and with a member network in the UK and Europe encompassing more than 6,000 people, 10,000 vehicles and over five million square feet of warehouse space, consignment management is a key and ever-present challenge for Palletline.

To better meet this challenge, Palletline invested four years and £1m to launch a new consignment management system – Contrado.

Designed for the palletised freight industry, Palletline can proactively identify potential issues, solve them efficiently and measure the results in real time. A key feature of the system is job management, which enables timely and accurate billing and settlement for all jobs.

Contrado was built on an SQL platform and .Net4 platform and data encryption was developed using Windows Communication Foundation (WCF). The system infrastructure, with in-house training and support, enables members to monitor and manage their jobs from order entry through to inter-depot payment.

The development of bespoke photographic handheld scanners, together with integrating automatic dimensions checking, means depots are able to manage incorrect manifests and identify cost saving/revenue opportunities. This allows for delivery depots to capture revenue correctly and collecting depots to educate customers on pallet dimensions and manifesting accuracy.

Judges' comments

Longbottom: “The project shows how Palletline has had to embrace its customers’ and suppliers’ different systems and create a more end-to-end automated system for both time and cost reasons. A good set of figures on cost and efficiency improvements back up a decent project.”

Scott: “Palletline seems to have put in a lot of time and investment to take on a large-scale project and made a successful business outcome.”

The winners

All winners will soon be profiled in full case studies on Computer Weekly. Trophies are on their way to all of the entries mentioned above.

Didn’t have a networking entry? The Computer Weekly European User Awards is also looking for innovative projects in security, enterprise software and datacentre/storage. 

Full details and deadlines for each awards series can be found here.

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