Understanding the challenges
Shine Group has multiple production companies in many countries and is now also part of the larger 21st Century Fox Group, making it a fairly complex organisation. The IT team at head office in London directly supports most of the UK sites and some of the European business units, in addition to maintaining close working links with colleagues around the world.
Shine Group was referred to FluidOne in 2008 to find the best customised solution for their business needs. Prior to this point the company had multiple connections in different locations from different suppliers in the different offices. At this time there was a slow and unreliable SDSL connection in place in the Manchester office that needed upgrading and this was the beginning of a whole new network.
This set up of multiple site-to-site VPNs to keep the company connected became more and more cumbersome and more tedious to scale out, especially with multiple lines at each site.
After seeing a FluidOne line installed at a partners site, Shine’s IT team were impressed with the speed of the line, the reliability and speed of installation. This was especially important due to the short turnaround times on film sets and remote production offices.
The separate DSL lines were the best solution for a number of years, and were replaced by fibre as the bandwidth requirement grew, but with the continued growth Shine realised that its own network became the most efficient solution.
In order to meet these needs with the necessary security precautions in place the IT Manager at Shine and FluidOne worked together to develop this network. This was the most cost effective solution that could be customised to meet all the security requirements. To begin with, FluidOne created a point to multi point solution to allow every site to communicate with each other using a mixture of aggregated DSL, Fibre and P2P services.
As the business grew, the connectivity became more critical to the business and resiliency became a must. A new redundant network was built as a single layer 3 MPLS instance, with layer 3 failover onto backup DSL circuits, linking to the existing network at 3 Centro colocation with active Firewall’s. The upgrade of every site was done out of hours to reduce of impact of any disruption to the business.
As the speed and reliability issues were addressed at each site with the new lines, Shine has moved its UK support portions of the network onto a FluidOne PWAN. This was the final stage of the project that allowed a common approach for how the various segments interacted with each other. A standardised hub and spoke approach inside an MPLS network has greatly simplified both the day-to-day maintenance and the addition of new sites.
The new fully managed MPLS service boosted Shine’s network significantly, by adding a faster dedicated connection at every site with high levels of resiliency on each tail as well as on the network. Also being a true MPLS, traffic was able to route directly between sites.
The main benefit to the business has been the standardisation across the network. With the hub and spoke approach all sites are connected in the same way and can rely on the same stability and speed. A knock on effect of this has been the way that the IT team has been able to better troubleshoot and manage the network. Mark Davis, Group Infrastructure Manager or Shine Group said “ FluidOne has made our life simpler with the new network. While we were able to operate with the previous network, everything is now faster and easier. It is a lot less complicated to add or change things such as the addition and removal of sites. In a fast moving industry like media, it is something we have to do more often than people expect and FluidOne has saved us a considerable amount of time.”
Improved monitoring of the network has also been achieved through the use of FluidOne Solarwinds support and automatic redundant connections at most sites. As all firewall/routing changes go through the FluidOne team there has been a significant amount of time freed up in the small network/infrastructure team.