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Business services consultancy and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) specialist AMR International is reaping the benefits of an upgraded, fibre-based IP access network and new voice services after switching out an ageing and unreliable ADSL connection.
Spread across offices in London, New York and Paris and serving a diverse customer base, AMR provides strategic consultancy services to help customers grow their business both organically and inorganically.
With a highly-mobile staff of about 50 and a lot of freelance consultants on its books, AMR IT manager Richard Andrews says he was increasingly challenged by the need to transfer large project files quickly and reliably to and from a web-based file store, and to ensure high-quality voice calls and simplify chargebacks for homeworkers.
“The major thing is connections between our offices,” says Andrews. “We do a lot of cross-office work – someone in the UK could be working on a US project or vice versa, so we are always up against file transfer problems, particularly with dropped VPN connections.”
“It caused a lot of mess and was slow and tedious. Homeworkers and freelancers had to come into the office much more often than they would have liked.”
With a Microsoft Office 365 deployment looming, Andrews knew he had to switch off AMR’s underpowered ADSL network for good and move to an IP networking service to support the massively increased bandwidth needs of Office 365.
But he was very reluctant to stick with the same provider, which he says was failing to provide adequate support for a network-dependent business.
“We just got forgotten,” says Andrews. “We would ask for things, wait for things and we’d always have to ring them up to chase – and that wasn’t what I needed. I lean on my suppliers and contacts to support myself and my IT organisation.”
The service uses a number of access circuit types to suit different business cases, with peak speeds of 1Gbps if using Colt’s fibre network. It can also offer symmetrical or asymmetrical DSL access, providing speeds of up to 20Mbps.
Jump in speed
In AMR’s case, the switch to IP networking – coupled with an office move that took place after the initial sign-up – means its internet access bandwidth has increased to 100Mbps. This jump in speed coincided with a dramatic increase in the number and size of files being transferred, and as the Office 365 installation bedded in, consultants began sharing large video and audio files of client meetings for future reference during project lifecycles.
“File sizes are much bigger,” says Andrews. “You would struggle to send them by email, so fast, reliable transfer to and from the Office 365 file store via Colt IP Access makes a big difference.
“We are an information company, and now everything is at our fingertips. For remote working, it has really benefited the company.”
With the network up and running and already bringing benefits for AMR, Andrews followed on by moving the business’ voice services across to Colt, prompted by the same service issues with the previous provider, and a desire to cut costs.
The building to which AMR moved was already directly connected into the Colt network, so adding its Voice Line service was a quick and easy process, he says.
It has also realised savings of 43% compared with its previous deal. According to Andrews, when that provider learned it was also going to lose the voice contract, it attempted to match the costs, but too late.
“They had clearly been looking after their own interests, rather than ours,” he says. “We had the opposite experience with Expect and Colt, so the decision to switch was an easy one to make.”
Its staff and freelancers now use Colt’s Voice Connect service, a carrier pre-selection service for business calls that simplifies chargebacks by making it easier to identify who made which calls and to which projects they are associated. This also saves time for AMR because its staff no longer need to trawl through their phone bills and submit expense claims.
The voice system has also proved its worth during London’s increasingly frequent Tube strikes, by making it easier to remain productive outside the office.
“Now that we have a stable line, we are looking at SIP trunks and hosted voice, as well as Azure and running more services in the cloud,” concludes Andrews.