Supplier selection criteria and methodologies include Software Process Improvement and Capability Evaluation (SPICE); Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA); quality management system (QMS); evidential reasoning approach (ER).

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Multi-Cloud: 3 Reasons for a Managed Provider

Multi-cloud Provider: Due to the vast choice in public, private and hybrid cloud offerings, launched and launching, organisations don’t need to limit themselves to a single cloud environment. According to a study carried out by 451 Research, commissioned by Microsoft, 50% of organisations believed that independent providers, such as Serviceteam IT, are vital for future digital transformation. 2017 Microsoft Hosting & Cloud Study.

More than ever before, customers are looking to a single trusted advisor to provide transformation-oriented managed services and hybrid implementation. Customers are looking to service providers to not only transform IT but also transform their entire business – to rewire the building and support new requirements, all while keeping the lights on.

 -Melanie Posey, Vice President, 451 Research

While a multi-cloud strategy has the benefit of greater scalability and reduced risk, managing more than one cloud isn’t easy. That’s where a managed multi-cloud provider comes in handy.

Serious About Cloud?

Odds are if you are serious about the cloud, you’re already using at least one of Microsoft Azure, AWS, HPE Helion, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud or somebodies cloud. There are benefits to each of the many cloud providers, however, it’s not only just good practice to have more than one, it’s also probably a necessity as each has its own unique features. Quite simply, not one vendor has the perfect answer to absolutely everything. If that were the case, there would be no competition!

Why use a Multi-Cloud Provider?

Expertise: Simplicity is not always a characteristic of some of the providers. The multitude of platforms, and the depth of the options available, that allow you to support hybrid, multi-cloud environments requires considerable expertise. That’s talent that can not only be hard to find, but enormously expensive to recruit.

Control: There are still many organisations that resist moving resources to the cloud, quite often simply because of the fear of the unknown and that they will lose control. Quite the opposite can be the case with a managed multi-cloud provider. Due to the extensive monitoring and reporting, provided by Serviceteam IT, and pro-active design, delivery and maintenance, rather than less control, you get a lot more.

Security: Even though many of the providers have extensive resources for reliability and security, with some notable exceptions, nothing is perfect. Outages are an inevitability of any IT infrastructure, no matter where it is and who is responsible for it. However, any weakness can be mitigated with a multi-cloud design, especially regarding availability and service interruption. Security can be optimised with sensible pro-active processes and procedures and the implementation of Cloud Connect, restricted access mechanisms and user verification & authentication beyond merely passwords.

Having a managed multi-cloud solution provider can empower your precious IT staff, freeing internal IT teams from “fire-fighting” and tedious IT maintenance, in order for them to focus on more strategic, engaging projects that support organisational growth and delivery of business strategy.

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 0101, use 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:


BT

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.


Colt

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

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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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!

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IT Support Birmingham Business Catalyst

We’re proud to announce our partnership with Marketing Birmingham and the Business Catalyst, the city’s strategic marketing partnership and the driving force behind its growing reputation as a place to visit, meet and invest. Serviceteam IT has been chosen as an IT support Birmingham Development Partner offering organisations and investors in Birmingham Cloud, Connectivity, Continuity and Communication services.

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What business communication and collaboration software do IT pros prefer?

While email remains the primary method of communication between users, many users and companies are experimenting or committing to alternative means such as Slack or Google Hangouts. While these methods have additional benefits and limitations, Skype for Business is favoured by larger firms due to the focus on security, manageability and reliability.

“When it comes to electronic communications at work, email is the seasoned old-timer.” announced a report from the IT & Marketing gurus at Spiceworks, “Everyone uses it, and for decades it’s been the default method of communication at work”. However, anyone who has had the misfortune of having to manage multiple email users, has probably been made painfully aware of the pitfalls posed by it’s limitations. As a result, a variety of alternatives have sprung up that attempt to solve these problems by incorporating instant messaging, video conferencing and file sharing. In terms of market share, Skype for Business has the greatest rate of adoption with 50% of organisations that have over 500 users currently using Skype for Business.

 

While collaborative software such as Slack is seen as innovative, user friendly, and widely compatible with a range of devices and operating systems, the runaway leader as favoured by IT professionals is Skype for Business. According to the survey, IT pros evaluated Skype for Business as the leading collaborative chat app for security, manageability and reliability.

Collaborative Software Percieved Attributes Graph

Collaborative Software Percieved Attributes Graph

 

Security Concerns

The report also revealed that almost 60% of IT pros believed that sensitive files and information should not be shared via group chat apps, which may explain their preference for Skype for Business. Another reason for this preference may also be the account management features offered by Skype for Business which facilitate more effective management for larger or growing organisations.

 

If you would like to know more about how Skype for Business or other Microsoft Products such as Office 365 could benefit your organisation feel free to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

 

To see the full results of the Spiceworks survey, click here.