Motorsport firm replaces ageing comms with cloud telephony

Motorsport and automotive engineering firm Prodrive adopts cloud telephony to ease the pain of an office move

Motorsport consultancy Prodrive has picked a cloud telephony system from UK newcomer nconnect to help it through a major office move and provide enhanced communications capabilities for its teams at racing circuits around the world.

Prodrive was established by former professional rally co-driver David Richards, who won the World Rally Championship alongside Finland’s Ari Vatanen in 1981.

Since setting up as a motorsport consultancy in 1984, Prodrive has managed rally teams for the likes of Porsche and Subaru, British Touring Cars, the European Le Mans Series and, for the 2004 season, the BAR Formula 1 team, which following a couple of changes of ownership now races as Mercedes AMG Petronas. It currently manages the Aston Martin Racing team, and Mini Rallying.

The firm is transitioning to a new-build facility in Banbury, explained Prodrive head of IT, Michael Cloete, and as a result is consolidating 12 different buildings into one 110,000 square foot facility.

As part of that, he said, Prodrive looked at how to re-evaluate and move an “ageing and antiquated” telephony infrastructure.

“We had evolved it over many years into something very clunky, almost to the point of being completely unmanageable,” Cloete told Computer Weekly. “We couldn’t benefit from advances in technology, so we had to look for a replacement solution.”

Nconnect came up with the goods, said Cloete, both on price, substantially below the six-figure sums Prodrive was quoted for on-premise, and the elimination of the need for on-premise hardware: “Embedded hardware wasn’t actually going to solve our relocation problem,” Cloete pointed out.

The 400-strong company went live on nconnect in July, reporting minimal downtime in the process.

Besides capital expenditure reductions associated with the move to cloud, Prodrive has also reported benefits for its racing teams when working abroad.

Previously, said Cloete, a typical race scenario saw a multitude of mobile phones having to be set up with roaming add-ons, which was becoming a tedious administrative exercise. Now, handsets can be configured to an engineer’s profile, meaning they can use the same extension as they move around the world.

Nconnect will also be extended across mobile devices, with iPhone and Android users able to download an app associated with their profile to enable them to make and receive calls at trackside as if they were in the office.

“When our team travels to an international race circuit, they take everything they need to be successful, including reliable high-quality communications,” said Cloete.

“With the nconnect system, all they need to do is take handsets to plug into a broadband connection and their pit wall presence pops up as an extension as if they were in the garage in Banbury. When they’re on the move, they use the nconnect app on their smartphones.”

“The people at Prodrive are all about showing how you can take technology to the limit, and they certainly do that with their communications requirements,” said Rami Houbby, nconnect UK MD.

“Prodrive’s big relocation project is proving that a superior communications platform makes far more commercial sense on a monthly payment model compared to the huge up front capital, integration and training investments necessary with other systems.”

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