Connectivity not assured without a dual-medium fibre approach
The universal adage that time is money has never been more accurate. In the current ultra-modern age, where technology is driven by daily innovation, any business seeking success simply cannot afford to be offline, or fall behind with its information technology infrastructure.
With high levels of cable theft, volatile delivery and frequent loss in connectivity, a more advanced approach is required, ensuring more reliable and consistent connectivity, making businesses more productive, with less frustrated employees and customers, and a positive bottom line.
When InfoProtect was approached by Ster Kinekor, the entertainment giant was experiencing major problems with its IT infrastructure and the technology being used. "With a constant loss in connectivity, the network was unreliable since both primary and secondary connections were copper based," confirms local IT provider InfoProtect's CTO, Hans van Vreden.
According to Van Vreden, the key is to operate in two different mediums. "When both mediums are copper (such as Telkom offers), if there's a problem chances are you'll lose both connections. However, with fibre as a primary line, and wireless or ADSL as a back-up, the two can run independently from one another. If the fibre line goes down, the client won't know, because the ADSL or wireless line will automatically take over."
This approach won over Ster Kinekor's IT Executive, Andre Potgieter. "We were looking for a cost-effective solution. It had also become imperative that we upgrade the corporate WAN to a highly available, burstable and vendor agnostic fibre solution," says Potgieter. "While the previous WAN solution comprised a mixed bag of 1MB Diginet link, with some sites on 2MB or DSL."
Potgieter describes this network as non-guaranteed, plagued by many outages and a lot of downtime - sometimes lasting up to three weeks on some links. "At any given time, we would have about three to four links down. Running at only 80 to 90% utilisation, the network was incredibly slow with no option to increase links."
To tackle these challenges, a dual-medium network solution was recommended and this has eliminated Ster Kinekor's connection woes. "We had very, very tight timelines (being three months) to switch from MTN and VOX to InfoProtect," recalls Potgieter. "We upgraded the network to a highspeed fibre network countrywide, with the ability to burst up to 100 Mb per site, if required. We also included DSL or wireless failover lines in an ACTIVE /ACTIVE setup so that we could use both links at the same time."
With a managed service, Ster Kinekor is assisted with all maintenance and ongoing installations as it continues to expand with new cinemas, such as at the Mall of Africa. "In terms of support, it is crucial to manage everything from site visits to centre management, especially when trenching to install fibre," says Van Vreden. "This is intrusive work, with various health and safety compliance requirements. Landlords are wary, mall management must be consulted when undergoing revamps, and sometimes extensions to the buildings themselves are required."
The solution is proactive; we inform the customer whenever there is an error on a line, confirm that the secondary line became active and that connectivity was not lost," states Van Vreden. It is always important to offer customers continuous added value. The service InfoProtect provides is based on building partnerships. "We are always willing to go the extra mile to help our customers," adds InfoProtect CEO, Brad Fraser.
Happy with the results, Potgieter concludes that he believes Ster Kinekor is in good hands. "A major part of this agreement is the fact that we can exit our agreement within 30 days if the guaranteed service levels are not maintained. This is a huge statement and goes to the confidence and support levels that the company stands by."