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Cloud Network Providers | Connect Your Private Network to the Cloud

Organisations are not limited to only a single cloud network providers solution option. Furthermore, they’re not merely able to access valuable cloud resources via the Internet. We advocate a combination of the solutions below to form a resilient, high-speed, high-availability, hybrid cloud network.

We’ve covered Cloud Connect and Cloud Connectivity Providers previously. Subsequently, a customer asked us to provide an overview of the options that they had available to them. The brief was “How do I connect my private network to my cloud network providers”.

In order to implement a connection from their private network space to their cloud network providers, there were questions we needed to ask:

Will the connection be temporary or permanent?

Temporary connections limit available options because of the potential contractual commitments. These can often be mitigated by utilising existing arrangements if your current suppliers are flexible and technically capable.

What is the capacity required?

If you are moving a large volume of data utilising already hard pressed capacity via the Internet is going to struggle and will impact on existing usage. Bursting capacity for a short period of time may be an option, dependent upon your existing supplier delivery. Serviceteam IT have previously moved very large data volumes (tens of Terabytes) via 10Gbps internet access within our colocation provider.

How resilient does it need to be?

This is of course dependent upon how important access to the data you’ll have with the private cloud network provider. You should already have resilient access to the Internet. Meaning it will be simpler to ensure access to the cloud network provider is equally resilient.

Where will the connection be coming from?

Is the private network located at a fixed office site?

  1. Are there multiple office locations?
  2. How are the multiple office locations connected, physically and logically?
  3. What is the primary leased line from the site? Is it fibre Ethernet?
  4. Does the primary leased line provider support 802.1Q VLANs?
  5. What major data centres, such as Telehouse or Telecity, is the primary leased line provider present in?
  6. What resiliency exists for the leased line?
  7. Who provides the physical connectivity resiliency?
  8. Who manages the physical and logical resiliency?
  9. Is the logical private network resilient, such as failover routes via alternate leased line providers to another site?
  10. What firewall devices are present at the site?
  11. How are they configured, such as High Availability Active/Active?
  12. Are site-to-site licenses available on the devices?
  13. Are there VPN failover policies enabled?
  14. Who manages these devices?
  15. Do the office locations have sufficient internet access capacity?
  16. Is there sufficient fibre Ethernet capacity to upgrade internet access?

Is the private network in a colocation facility?

  1. Are there multiple colocation facilities?
  2. Who provides the network connectivity between the facilities?
  3. Do the colocation providers supply backhaul via 802.1Q VLANs?
  4. What physical and logical connectivity resiliency is in place?
  5. Are the colocation providers supplying Managed Internet Access (MIA)?
  6. How are they connecting you to the internet, such as their own feed or a third party transit provider?
  7. How are the public peering arrangements organised? What are the private peering arrangements?
  8. In which major data centres, such as Telehouse or Telecity, are the colocation providers present in.
  9. What firewall devices are present at the colocation sites?
  10. Who manages the firewall devices?
  11. What edge routers do they operate?

As an aside, we’ve worked with customers who have infrastructure in colocation facilities, where not only has the colocation facility been unable to supply backhaul via 802.1Q VLANs, but also had no internet peering arrangements. They at least had two colocation facilities for resilience!

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

In almost all cases, public cloud services begin via publicly accessible services, such as websites. As organisations become ever increasingly comfortable with public cloud, the practicalities of hosting more business critical information increases. And yet, the security of the information and access to the information remains paramount. An Internet VPN is the first, and arguably the simplest, option. It provides the shortest lead time of all of the options.

Public cloud providers offer VPN appliances, or an option for native VPN through the cloud providers control panel. Device support includes many options from hardware VPN concentrators to OS-based VPN solutions, such as OpenVPN. Cloud network providers will charge for the compute instances hosting the VPN appliance. Bear in mind cloud network providers charge for the bandwidth. Data transferred via a VPN counts against data transfer cost. There are no minimum commitments associated with VPN options. VPN connections to the cloud network provider are most suited to temporary or network failover.

Direct Connectivity

The VPN option limits the ability to offer a consistent experience over a common internet connection. It’s bandwidth you share with user and service access, which can become saturated with high capacity users, or reduce service effectiveness for voice and video. For a far more predictable connection, cloud network providers offer direct private connections via major data centre facilities.

Cloud providers ordinarily partner with large data centre operators. These operators terminate multiple cloud provider networks into their facilities, often via a meet-me room. Other providers rent facilities from these data centre providers, and the data centre provider offers a cross-connect, known as an Xconnect, from the cloud provider’s facilities to customer facilities. This can sometimes involve many parties. For example, if your private network is located in a colocation data centre, you will need to:

Creating your own connection to Cloud Network Providers

  • create a VLAN to the local edge router, lets call it A, of the colocation provider;
  • backhaul via a VLAN to an edge router, lets call it B, of your third party colocation provider in the major data centre provider facility;
  • set-up a cross-connect from edge router B, to the edge router, lets call it C, of the major data centre provider;
  • install a cross-connect from edge router C, to the edge router, lets call it D, of the probable additional cabling provider within the facility;
  • organise a cross-connect from edge router D, to the edge router, lets call it E, of the cloud network provider;
  • enable a Cloud Connect service from edge router E, to the LAN, lets call it F, of the VPC;
  • in each of the steps you will have options for either a port based VLAN or an ID based VLAN, sometimes both, sometimes only one;
  • once all the physical connections have been enabled and tested, then the real fun begins as you have to logically address and apply a routing schema, ordinarily BGP, between your private network and the cloud network provider.

Direct connections generally come in two Ethernet speeds of 1Gbps or 10Gbps. With AWS you then have a CDR, which is carried over the Ethernet capacity, and is a minimum of 10Mbps. The data centre provider charges for the cross connect, while the cloud provider charges for the port, and everyone else charges for backhauls and cabling.

Most cloud providers allow unlimited transfer over direct connect, which brings down the per gigabyte transfer cost. Often the major data centre providers offer shorter terms, such as 1-month commitments. Cross-connects usually carry a 12 month term. Customers can leverage the shorter commitments for short-term projects to transfer lots of data, or to test a new service from a cloud provider.

Connect to Cloud Network Providers with Serviceteam IT

Telco providers are increasingly offering services based on a Cloud Connect model. Capacity (speeds) between 1Gbps and 10Gps are more desirable. Telco providers bundle connectivity to a cloud network provider. More often, these connections are Cloud Connect to the major data centre providers without the complications of cross connects or VLAN type mismatch, robust physical failover and resilience of the route with a cohesive routing schema between the private network to the cloud network provider.

Organisations have a far wider variety of connectivity options. Telco providers can offer Ethernet connection options with MPLS and VPLS to your preferred cloud network provider. This can be delivered as one-to-many, many-to-one or many-to-many. Telco terms don’t always mimic existing WAN commitment lengths, ordinarily 24 or 36 months, as we have contracts with 36 month resilient fibre Ethernet connections and only 12 month Cloud Connect services carried over the resilient fibre Ethernet.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Leased Line Providers Explained | Tier 1 UK

Leased Line Providers in the UK

Even though we work with all of the Tier 1 network and leased line providers, we don’t often talk about it. This is due in part to our customers’ network and ethernet fibre leased line services being both commercially sensitive and a security risk should we divulge their details. It is also a relatively complex area of IT infrastructure, where one size rarely fits all and the options for fibre ethernet, transit, IP, backhaul and VLANs with Cloud Connect and Smart Network. Coupled with the resiliency options of leased lines makes the choices almost limitless.

A note regarding Leased Line resilience

Ethernet leased lines in the UK usually carry at least a 99.9% Service Level Agreement. I have in the past competed with companies selling services with a single fibre carrying a 100% SLA. Which, as any budding techie will tell you, is an engineering impossibility.

The likelihood of all Tier 1 leased line providers in the UK being on-net is low. Many of the Tier 1 providers will need to use BT for the final part of the circuit. The tell-tale signs are an install fee and higher rentals on a 36 month term.

Almost all UK leased line providers make use of dedicated circuits from their competitors’ wholesale divisions as it is often cheaper for them to do this than to extend their physical networks by digging the road or pavement. There are some notable exceptions depending upon location and building, which you can learn about below.

When we quote for resilient services we:

  1. Inspect the internals of the site, such as the comms room.
    My most memorable initial inspection was at a global brand hotel chain, at an hotel here in Birmingham. We found the ethernet fibre ingress with the comms cabinet, all of which was below the lowest point of the swimming pool it was behind. Needless to say our initial recommendation was raising the cabinet to a higher point in the building and moving the fibre ethernet ingress to suit.
  2. Assess the external area for access routes.
    This usually entails wandering around the outside of the building making measurements for where a known egress from the building lies, often looking for tell-tale signs of raised paving slabs or renewed tarmac heading off the site.
  3. Survey the surrounding areas physically identifying a DP (demarcation point).
    Once the egress from the building is identified, plus the route from the building, we then need to find the DP covers starting with the nearest. Photographs are taken and GPS location recorded. Main link routes can be identified easily enough as they ordinarily have multiple covers and will usually be found at road junctions. I always feel a little conspicuous wandering up and down roads, photographing the floor trying to contain my excitement at finding a Mercury five cover DP – that’s a big one!
  4. Qualify identified DPs with providers.
    The Tier 1 providers rarely know what they have and where it is located, so this step takes a little more time, normally relying upon the local engineers. We have a lot of contacts outside of the ‘normal’ process which enables us to find fibre that the provider we’re trying to purchase it from had no idea they had. One such incidence is with a provider who is strong in Birmingham, and shall remain nameless (Colt), where they had made the building on-net in circa 2002-2003. However, a bar chain had moved in on the lower ground floor, and their renovation and refit in 2010 had ‘disappeared’ some fairly expensive kit behind a stud wall.
  5. Confirm route and location with providers.
    This step is very difficult to carry out with BT, however, with the correct contacts the gaps can be filled so it’s not impossible. BT maintain they won’t share route maps due to security, however, we all know the real reason is they just don’t know. For an example route map from Virgin Media see page six of Leased line survey – SAMPLE below.
  6. Insist providers identify other carriers in use applied to the quote supplied.
    For commercial reasons leased line providers here in the UK are often extremely reticent to openly share from whom they are purchasing the initial leased line circuit. Heaven forbid they tell you and then you ask them for a quote! We maintain very close relationships with sales and operations to ensure transparency. Our contracts where resilience is identified as the primary purpose also carry a caveat regarding third party failure and liability where we have explicitly requested all parties involved.
  7. Identify suitable media resilient options, such as Microwave or Radio, if the diversity cannot be confirmed.
    Simple resilience via ADSL or FTTC are viable options, although not our preferred recommendation. Cost effective media resilience, in the case of an ethernet fibre leased line, include 4G. For the gold standard in media resilience a fixed band Microwave is the only option. Many years ago I provided such a solution to the Birmingham Head Quarters of a high street opticians, and the employees on the site believed their brains were being cooked by the Microwave dish outside. I seem to remember people refusing to work in the office and wearing aluminium foil hats when they did. Needless to say, a great deal of technical data was provided to allay their totally unfounded fears, especially given the fact they would receive a far greater amount of radiation from hugging a Henge Stone.
  8. Using provider route maps and our own photographs create a visual map report with locations marked by GPS.
    You can read a sample report carried out for a customer below, Leased line survey – SAMPLE:

What are Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 providers?

Excellent question, which as usual does not have a simplistic answer. There are Global Tier 1 providers, such as Level3, NTT, AT&T. There are partial Global Tier 1 providers, such as C&W (acquired by Vodafone), Liberty Global (who acquired Virgin Media in 2013) and Telia. The list is not exhaustive.

In the UK I’ll refer to Tier 1 providers who provide Ethernet Fibre, not to be confused with fibre broadband, to the site or premise. UK Tier 1 leased line providers include: BT, Vodafone, Colt, Virgin Media and SSE along with providers, such as KCOM, with legacy presence in specific areas.

National Tier 2 and Tier 3 providers can be described as either having to use a Tier 1 or Tier 2 for some portion of the leased line, or they have a contractual arrangement which places them in Tier 2 or Tier 3. A Tier 2 example would be ourselves, where we have a leased line provided end-to-end by a Tier 1.

In very simple terms what makes the Internet work is the Tier providers each have their own network, or portion of a network, which is private to them. Where they all meet, typically an Internet Exchange or IX, is how traffic from a source, such as a browser requesting a web page, is passed to the host provider, the server which hosts the website. This is either via Public Peering or via Private Peering between the two or more respective providers. The London Internet Exchange, LINX, is arguably the largest peering point in the UK. You can find the list of public peers at their LON1 node here: LINX LON1.

Leased lines prior to around 2002 were usually low capacity, as little a 64kbps. In the UK circuit options were available for 2mbps (E1), 34mbps (E3) 45mbps (DS3) and 155mbps (STM1). Today leased line providers ordinarily supply an Ethernet leased line circuit which is at least 100mbps, however, all our customers have at least 1000mbps which is 1gbps.

Leased Line Providers We Use:


British Telecom is still easily the largest leased line provider, the reasons for which I’ll cover below.

British Telecommunications Plc was formed in 1984, from the GPO. In 2001, right here in Birmingham, BT was de-merged from its wireless division. Following the Communications Act 2003 BT was split, this importantly formed Openreach. BT Global, BT Wholesale, BT Business, BT Retail, BT Corporate and a whole host of other subsidiaries were formed since.

The existence of Openreach is important as BT, in its many guises, purchases network and leased line services from Openreach. Meaning BT buy the exact same service for the exact same price non-BT providers, such as ourselves, buy. Openreach has the largest network of any of the UK leased line providers. You can get a BT circuit without buying it from the many BT retail businesses.

Virgin Media

Created from a patchwork of UK cable franchises, such as Birmingham Cable, in 2006 Virgin Media was formed from the acquisition of Virgin Mobile and operated as a license using the Virgin brand for the two main cable providers, Telewest and NTL, who had acquired or amalgamated the local cable franchises.

In 2010 the NTL:Telewest Business subsidiary became Virgin Media Business, a simple rebranding of the business which continued to sell existing leased line and other services to businesses.

Libery Global acquired Virgin Media and subsidiaries for approximately £15bn in 2013. Virgin Media UK operations are ultimately controlled by Virgin Media (UK) Group Inc. in Delaware USA, so we have no idea of the ownership of Virgin Media as the law in Delaware does not require disclosure of controlling ownership.


Founded in 1992 City of London Telecommunications began by providing leased lines to Britain’s financial district after being awarded a Telecommunications Licence in 1993. The group expanded significantly in the ten years following and increased its network coverage to many European cities, including Birmingham.

In 2014 Colt was acquired by Japanese Telecoms company KVH. Colt was once again acquired in 2015 by it’s earliest investor, Fidelity Investments.

Colt operates primarily in metro city zones throughout Europe with a presence, known as on-net, in around 20,000 buildings in almost 200 cities. If you’re in Birmingham, Docklands or Manchester  it is very likely they will be on-net for you.


Vodafone acquired Cable & Wireless in 2012, where I worked between 1999 and 2001. C&W had a long history of network provision, laying undersea cables between British colonies since 1870, and acquiring assets following the first cable war in 1917.

Cable & Wireless was the very first UK leased line provider to offer an alternative to BT. In 1982 Mercury Communications Ltd was founded as a subsidiary of C&W, then in 1997 Mercury was absorbed into C&W. In 1998 C&W acquired MCI Worldcom creating Cable & Wireless Global in 1999.

Between 2001 and 2010 C&W bought many corporate leased line providers including Exodus, Energis and Thus.

SSE Telecoms

SSE Telecoms acquired Neos Networks in 2003 and SSE Telecoms is the telecommunications business of Scottish and Southern Energy. It had the ingenious idea of stringing fibre from SSE’s electricity pylons providing a competitive way to link cities together, without having to pay a fortune to run fibre on terra firma such as alongside railway lines, motorways and canals.

Network assets are primarily Scotland and the South of England with around 265 points-of-presence and they are on-net in 75 data centres. SSE Telecoms are an excellent choice to connect data centre assets with very high capacity interconnects, 10gbps and higher. Perfect for real-time synchronisation of large data volume SANs.

Finally . . .

There are a number of UK Leased Line Providers, other than those listed. Many of the other Tier 1 leased line providers buy a portion of their circuits from BT, typically the first mile or last mile of the route from the served site to the providers Point of Presence.

Serviceteam IT can supply circuits from all the above providers, at wholesale rates, and link circuits from different carriers together.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Leased Line Connectivity: What is it?

If your organisation needs connectivity to support business critical data and applications, it’s important to find a solution that works for you, and a leased line connection is often part of that. Leased lines provide connections between networks that require data to ease communication. This could mean they connect offices to the Internet, or to other geographically distant offices and sites, or they might even carry telephony data such as a call centre.

In short:

A leased line is a dedicated, uncontended, symmetric, resilient data connection often used by businesses or distributed organisations.

Since that contains a lot of technical jargon, let’s run through those terms individually:

Leased Line Features


This means your leased line connection is solely used for your data.

This is important for two reasons. Firstly it’s better for data security as your data doesn’t travel on public routes. But it also means other users don’t affect the quality of your connection.


Contention ratio is the maximum potential demand at any one time, over the actual available bandwidth.

Often with shared Internet connections such as home broadband there are peaks and troughs in terms of bandwidth. You may notice in the evenings that Internet seems ‘slower’. The higher the ratio, the more likely that your connection will be affected and ‘slowed down’ at peak times.

A dedicated leased line will have a 1:1 contention ratio. This means that the provider can guarantee a fixed speed or bandwidth, regardless of the time of day.


This means the downloads speeds are the same as the upload speeds. This is useful for a number of common activities such as:

  • Online Backups
  • Desktop as a Service
  • Video Conferencing
  • IP Telephony
  • Uploading large files

Additionally, leased line connections usually come at higher bandwidths than ordinary connections with up to 10Gbps capacity available.


Resilience means that the connection doesn’t go wrong, and if it does, it has the ability the quickly recover. Most leased line connections have around 99.99% uptime. That’s about 60 seconds of downtime a week.

If your organisation is dependent on connection to the outside world, then it is vulnerable if this connection is lost. Having a connection with resilience mitigates this and provides business continuity.

A resilient leased line solution will ensure there is no single point of failure. This can be done by incorporating secondary lines to increase diversity, which means using multiple providers, fibre routes, and entry points. If connectivity is at the forefront of your operations, then a diverse leased line solution provides much better protection against interruptions or outages.

Leased Line Benefits

Save Time & Money

An improved connection provides an excellent return on investment, and enables organisations to take full advantage of cost-saving cloud services. Additionally the increased resilience of leased line connections means that the impact of costly downtime is mitigated.

Improve Productivity

Work smarter, not harder. Every organisation is somewhere on the way to being on the cloud, if not already fully cloud based. Cloud based software and collaboration services improves the way people work, and link them more effectively to sites or customers located in other sites or even across the globe.

Security & Continuity

Enjoy peace of mind with secure private virtual cloud. Mitigate both cost challenges and migration risks with flexibility and ensure business critical functions stay online around the clock with high availability backed by SLAs.

How do you get one?

Serviceteam IT have enterprise solutions for organisations of any size. We offer scalability and flexibility that would otherwise be unavailable from legacy services, and deliver dedicated, secure, uncontended fibre connections for all your voice and data traffic. What Serviceteam IT offer is:

  • Extensibility – Our infrastructure can grow, adapt and scale to your business
  • Continuity – Network designed with contingency options for business continuity
  • Cost Savings – Do away with expensive hardware, switching, and set-up costs
  • Fully managed – Eliminate admin and billing headaches
  • Proactively monitored SLA – with up to 99.999% uptime
  • Maintainence – Hardware maintenance included in standard service
  • 24/7 Support – From a dedicated fault management team

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Fibre Internet from Serviceteam IT Helps Substrakt Accelerate Ahead

Thanks to an existing customer, BanaBay Limited, giving a whole-hearted recommendation of how we at Serviceteam IT support them, we’ve added another fantastic new customer. We provide BanaBay with IP Telephony, Continuity, Office 365, IT Support and of course Fibre Internet. BanaBay were very gracious, in allowing their potential next door neighbours to assess the quality of the leased line services provided by Serviceteam IT, by enabling secured access for Substrakt to evaluate.

Birmingham, U.K., February 1st, 2017

Midlands-based connectivity specialists Serviceteam IT have secured a lucrative contract to provide a resilient gigabit fibre internet to industry-leading digital design house, Substrakt.

Serviceteam IT, based in Birmingham, landed the contract with Substrakt after delivering a fibre connection in an impressive turnaround time of 26 working days. The contract follows another successful year for the company, which has trebled its client base after three years of consecutive growth. Some of the company’s most notable clients include First Utility, GAB Robins, and Barrhead Travel.

Serviceteam IT attributes its fast turnaround times as the key to its success. “The main advantage we have over our competitors is we deliver fibre internet into an office in around 30 days, which is often half the time of our competitors” said its director Sebastian Jesson-Ward. “We have developed strong relationships with our suppliers and we push them harder to deliver quicker results and address our clients’ needs.”

Mr Jesson-Ward, who has over 20 years of experience in the communications sector, said securing the contract with Substrakt presents Serviceteam IT with a fantastic opportunity to add another prestigious client to its rapidly expanding client base. “Substrakt work with some of the country’s biggest brands, so it is essential that their connectivity is secure and reliable,” he said. “We are privileged that they have come on board, and we are looking forward to working with them for many years to come.”

Substrakt designs and develops digital solutions within the creative, cultural and tourism sectors with high-profile clients, including the English National Opera, Modern Art Oxford, and the Birmingham Hippodrome. The partnership between Serviceteam IT and Substrakt will help Substrakt accelerate its growth and better serve its clients through improved connectivity. Scott Whitehouse, Head of Technical Delivery for Substrakt, said: “Having a reliable connection for our staff, and with our high-profile clients, it is absolutely vital for us. We are delighted to be teaming up with Serviceteam IT to provide this.”

We’re proud to provide quality and value to our customers, and would like to thank Banabay for giving us such a good recommendation. If your organisation is moving premises or expanding, Serviceteam IT can provide a free, no-obligation network and communications consultation, ensuring your organisation has the tools it requires, for the level of service it needs.

To find out more, feel free to contact us on the number provided below.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!