Viatel, the business communications expert, today announced that it has installed a managed MPLS VPN for Marie Stopes International (MSI), a not-for-profit sexual and reproductive health organisation, in partnership with IP Solutions. The new data network effectively connects MSI’s 14 UK sites, including the head office in London, a support centre in Bristol and 12 clinics up and down the country. Since installing the Viatel solution, Marie Stopes has seen a 70 percent reduction in monthly running costs when compared to the previous BT network – a saving of £440,000 over the next five years – and expects to see a return on investment within 11 months.
Marie Stopes relies on a centralised booking system to set up appointments for all clinics, but the previous solution simply did not provide adequate bandwidth to support this since all internet access was routed via the organisation’s head office. The outcome was that sometimes bookings were not entered into the system properly, often resulting in missed or double booked appointments – both of which caused headaches for staff at the clinics. This, coupled with the expense involved in running the old network, meant MSI was on the look-out for a new centrally managed solution that could effectively provide reliable and consistent bandwidth across all locations.
MSI consulted with IP Solutions which provided quotes for upgrading the existing network, and for brand new solutions from Viatel and two other vendors. Marie Stopes chose the Viatel MPLS VPN because it was the most cost-effective solution and provided the desired level of flexibility and scalability to fit in with MSI’s planned growth over the coming years. All internet traffic is now centralised from the Viatel core, freeing up bandwidth for the various clinics and ensuring the booking system works as efficiently as possible. Furthermore, MSI can easily add new locations to the network as and when needed with a simple ADSL connection. This is key given that in addition to its own clinics, the organisation also provides services from GP’s surgeries around the UK.
“Having a high quality data network is paramount to servicing our nationwide clinic, as well as the offices in London and Bristol,” said Tim Ozmen, head of IT operations at Marie Stopes. “This need has become more essential due to the introduction of several new applications placing additional strains on available bandwidth. With the Viatel solution, we now have considerably more bandwidth at all locations ensuring that all applications are accessible by all users at any location.”
Just a couple of months before the planned installation, MSI informed IP Solutions and Viatel that it was relocating its head office. As part of this move, the organisation also planned to bring all of its servers in-house so that it was no longer reliant on an outsourced data centre – presenting potentially tricky configuration issues and adding a new dimension to the project. IP Solutions and Viatel worked quickly to accommodate Marie Stopes’ new requirements and the whole project was rolled out as planned, on time and in budget.
The actual deployment took place over a four week period during which both the previous BT network and the Viatel network were running simultaneously. This gradual handover was important to Marie Stopes as its IT team were already working on a number of other key projects at the same time and were severely stretched. The extra time gave key MSI IT staff the time needed to check all locations were fully functioning before shutting down the old network – without the burden of having to do this all at once. Furthermore, with centralised management, the IT team can monitor and troubleshoot the entire network from one location – freeing up time previously spent on administration.
“An overhaul of the system was needed with particular focus on minimising disruption while keeping the main offices and clinics online,” said Keith Purves, sales director at IP Solutions. “Working with Viatel on this project, we were able to offer the best pricing and service delivery, working flexibly to meet the needs of the customer and to ensure a seamless transition.”
IP Solutions also recommended that Marie Stopes deploy Viatel’s WebControl and Managed Firewall services. This not only enables MSI to set central policies for internet use across all 14 UK locations, it also means the organisation can add international sites to the network securely. In addition to its UK presence, Marie Stopes operates further centres in 41 other countries. At present, these sites are not connected to the central UK network, but the plan is for them all to connect over the internet in the future. A pilot for this project has been successfully undertaken with the Dublin office now cost-effectively and securely part of the central MPLS network.
“Marie Stopes has effectively overcome its network management challenges to ensure the organisation runs to its maximum potential,” said Michael Davies, head of product management at Viatel. “The organisation has also taken the wise decision to invest in a network that not only meets its needs today, but that will also enable it to grow in the future. Considering these potential future requirements up front is key to getting the best ROI and also to ensuring the solution matches the organisation in question’s specific needs without extra investment further down the line.”