Information was shared between these sites and back to Rethinks' data center using a traditional IPSec VPN that encrypted traffic sent across the internet.
Although this WAN (Wide Area Network) solution met their immediate requirements Rethink were looking to roll out advanced applications including CRM and Video Conferencing. These new demands on the network would mean that greater bandwidth was required and with service levels deteriorating they decided to consolidate all their services with one provider and began to identify potential partners.
Underpinning Rethinks' requirement for a more reliable and advanced WAN was the desire to use video conferencing as a business tool. Video conferencing was a key requirement for Rethink as it would allow their staff to work more efficiently, reduce time and costs associated with travelling and also help enhance their green credentials. Rethinks' current network was incapable of handling Video traffic due partly to bandwidth limitations but crucially due to the fact that the network could not identify video traffic and treat it with the priority it required.
Rethink needed secure and reliable access to critical applications, improved support and a network that was fully managed and capable of handling real-time traffic. Realising the need to re-evaluate their current connectivity and provider Rethink turned to Zen Internet for advice and recommendations.
Following a consultation with Rethink we proposed they connect their 7 core office locations into an IP VPN solution that offered complete security for inter-site traffic and provided the platform for deploying their Video Conferencing solution. We also proposed a second IP VPN solution to provide a private network for their service locations ensuring that the 2 networks were segregated to offer additional security and easier administration.
A dedicated Project Manager was assigned to the deployment and was responsible for the successful roll-out of the new network. The London HQ was connected to the primary IP VPN using a 100Mbps Ethernet line circuit with other sites connecting to the network using 10Mbps Ethernet line circuits all with various levels of bandwidth provisioned. Cisco 2800 series ISR's (Integrated Services Routers) were deployed at each of the 7 sites and were fully configured and tested by Zen's managed support teams.
Rethink's Video Conferencing bandwidth requirements were calculated and Quality of Service (QoS) policies were applied at each of the sites participating in the primary IP VPN. These QoS policies were then applied across our core network using MPLS (Multi-protocol Label Switching) packet tagging to ensure end-to end performance. The network intelligence delivered by the QoS implementation meant that regardless of how busy the network was Video conferencing traffic streams would maintain a consistent performance ensuring that virtual meetings could take place whenever required.
Initially 53 service sites were connected into the second IP VPN using ADSL broadband connectivity terminated using Thomson ST546 routers. Rethink has plans to introduce other service locations in the future and these can easily be incorporated into the network within just 5 working days. Rethink took the opportunity to host their critical applications in Zen's data center to improve application response times, improve security and support their disaster recovery requirements.
Breakout to the public Internet was provided from our data center and secured by 2 Fortigate 310B firewalls that were deployed in a high availability cluster. These Unified Threat Management firewalls were configured and Managed by Zen's managed support teams and offered deep packet inspection and protection against spam, viruses, and network intrusions. The firewalls also protected traffic travelling to and from the Primary to the secondary IP VPN.
Since deploying Zen's IP VPN solution Rethink have experienced dramatic improvements in employee productivity made possible by improved network performance and reliability. Rethink staff are now assured of a reliable and stable connection to critical applications hosted in Zen's data center or at their HQ.
Video conferencing has been fully deployed between the 7 sites connected into the primary IP VPN. Network intelligence within the IP VPN has made the deployment of this advanced technology possible and it has already delivered some major benefits for Rethink. Within the 1st year of deployment the Video Conferencing application helped Rethink save £100, 000 in travel costs with ambitions to increase these savings to £150,000 in year 2 and £200,000 in year 3.
The new collaboration technology also improved productivity as staff can easily hold virtual meetings with geographically dispersed staff at short notice. The new technology also had a positive impact on the environment reducing Rethinks overall emissions and has helped provide a better work/life balance for their staff with less travelling and overnight stays.
Rethink are now benefiting from a fully managed Wide Area Network solution. The in-house IT teams are spending more time focusing on internal system development and delivering a better service across all their branch offices.
Having deployed a real-time Video conferencing solution Rethink are now considering introducing VoIP to the IP VPN. The networks ability to handle real-time traffic and Zen's approach to planning and deploying QoS has provided the confidence to implement this technology in the future. This will enable Rethink to deliver further cost savings and productivity enhancements helping the business to deliver on its main aim 'to support people with mental illnesses recover a better quality of life".