Cairn Housing Association has restructured its network to provide connectivity to all of its 35 remote sites in Scotland, achieving 99.999 per cent uptime while re-using much of its existing hardware.
Cairn manages 2800 properties in Scotland, with offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Coatbridge and Thurso. For the past three or four years, Cairn has had difficulties with its network infrastructure. It originally had a leased line and public VPN between the main office in Edinburgh and its satellite offices but this did not meet the demand for connectivity and broadband. This was upgraded in 2004 but the network could not cope with the volume of traffic, there was a bottleneck at the Edinburgh hub, and customer service was poor. In addition, the hardware infrastructure of the network was very complex and expensive to manage, compounded by the low reliability of the connection to the satellite offices.
When reviewing its network, Cairn focused firstly on the need for scalability to accommodate new sites. The new infrastructure needed to connect 35 remote locations with single users to the current network, delivering access to Citrix-based applications, as well as internet access. The second requirement was for the network to provide enough bandwidth to run applications such as videoconferencing and VoIP while being commercially attractive in the long-term.
Having been selected as the preferred supplier, Solution1 proposed a network solution that reused as much of the existing hardware and infrastructure as possible, such as the bonded SDSL connections in Edinburgh and Inverness and further SDSL connections in Glasgow, London Street and Coatbridge, enabling them to keep costs under control.
To allow for future growth and the demand for scalability, Cairn’s existing servers were moved into the Solution1 network. The co-location of the virtualised servers removed the strain from the Edinburgh hub, made it easier to accommodate additional sites and more users, and improved the network’s overall performance.
Solution1 considered that Cairn’s existing WAN was still fit for purpose for the foreseeable future. This led to virtually no disruption to the network, and in future additional DSL sites could be deployed easily and quickly without affecting the existing network.
Rory Gaffney, head of IT, Cairn Housing Association, said, “It took less than six weeks to implement the new network. Not only has performance improved, with 99.999 per cent network uptime since Solution1 took over, but they have also managed to reduce our IT expenditure by 10 per cent and our overall running costs by 30 per cent.”