Telecom Services provider Vodat began to offer managed network services to customers in the UK retail industry from about 2003 onwards, using leased MPLS services from various UK telecom service providers. By 2010, it had a sufficient customer base to build and operate its own network. Prior to this, Vodat had faced many challenges by leasing MPLS services from UK carriers. This had limited its ability to proactively manage the network. Instead of diagnosing line faults itself, the company was at the mercy of their telecoms provider having to tell them about problems and hope they were dealt with quickly.
It also meant that Vodat was limited in terms of the bandwidth options it could offer its customers. In addition, the resale of MPLS based services was having a negative impact on the company’s margins as the costs for leased services were significantly more expensive than only leasing unmanaged circuits.
For Vodat, the answer was to build and manage their own MPLS network using Vodat owned/managed switches and routers in conjunction with leased lines from major UK carriers such as BT, Vodafone, Talk Talk and Virgin Media. To meet its customer requirements, Vodat created an innovative managed network solution for their retail clients, that would allow it to easily connect numerous retail locations to all distribution and HQ offices, as well as to each other. To build this network, Vodat needed an ICT vendor that could meet its very stringent requirements for scalability, ease of management, reliability, flexibility and cost.
In response, Huawei worked closely with Vodat to design and implement a managed network solution. The core network includes 3 Huawei NE40E Routers, 3 Huawei S9300 Routers, and 2 Huawei USG 5120s Managed Firewalls.
Vodat’s decision to build and operate its own network was quite entrepreneurial, as the return on investment clearly required business growth. With this in mind, it needed to build a flexible and scalable network, one that could start with adequate bandwidth and capacity, but not one that required an over-investment in upfront costs. It required a network that could grow as their customer base grew. Huawei was the only vendor able to offer the scalability needed within the required budget.
Value For Vodat, a very significant benefit of working with Huawei was the deep support, customisation and direct contact with Huawei’s R&D staff. For example, as Vodat rolled out managed firewall services for its customers, it identified new features and functionality that would enhance its services. It was able to put its suggestions directly to Huawei’s engineers with the result that a number of enhancements have now been adopted not just for Vodat but Huawei’s customer base worldwide. In terms of inter-operability and flexibility, the Huawei network has worked very well with non-Huawei equipment installed at the edge of the Vodat network. Finally, the overall TCO for the project was excellent and allowed the company to build out their network much more quickly and effectively than the competitive alternatives offered.