“TOP FOUR” PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRM CONNECTS AFRICA TO GLOBAL NETWORK

One of the Big Four professional services firms needed a robust last-mile connectivity solution to link their branches in Africa to applications hosted in the UK.

IS held several in-depth workshops with the client and set up a virtual team to discuss their requirements and brainstorm solutions. This agile approach helped in fine-tuning the solution: a wide area network for Africa (AWAN) that connects all branches to the IS MPLS network, with one breakout from South Africa to Europe. This has helped the firm to streamline its services in a cost-effective way and optimise bandwidth for its branches. Improved network latency and seamless connectivity enable greater productivity and, ultimately, a better customer experience.

“IS always managed to deliver the required services, with the necessary quality and within the required delivery period. A dedicated on-site Service Manager took this service to the next level, giving us a point of call for everything from simple day-to-day issues to complex routing or performance issues. This level of service reduces our overheads and ensures the delivery of efficient and quality services in a timely manner.” Associate Director

Connecting Africa to a strong global network

This Big Four professional services firm has a strong presence in Africa. Their Africa operations provide assurance, advisory and tax services to clients in all markets.

To provide clients with a seamless, consistent service anywhere on the continent, the firm needed robust last mile connectivity to link every user in every office to the internet, as well as to their web-based applications that are hosted in the UK.

Consolidating last mile services across the continent

A few years ago, each branch in Africa had its own last mile link to Interoute, the UK-based vendor that provides connectivity from Africa to the firm’s systems and applications in the UK. Three breakout points were used: in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

To reduce the risks and costs of the existing setup, the firm was looking to consolidate all last mile services in Africa under a single internet solutions provider (ISP). This would help the firm to centralise control and track bandwidth use to help branches operate efficiently with right bandwidth. They also wanted just one breakout point, from South Africa, for all the firm’s Africa operations.

A team committed to the optimal solution

The firm was a data centre hosting client of IS and had also appointed IS to provide last mile connectivity for a site in Paarl, South Africa. As IS has a significant footprint in Africa, we were approached to design a solution that would meet all these requirements.

IS held several in-depth workshops with representatives from the firm to understand exactly what they were looking for and determine the best way forward. The IS Sales and Presales Consultants were involved throughout this process, and worked closely with the project management and engineering teams to help them understand the firm’s requirements.

Internally, IS set up a virtual team that met weekly to discuss these requirements, provide answers to questions raised by the firm, and brainstorm solutions to any issues that arose. This agile approach proved to be extremely effective in fine-tuning the solution in line with the firm’s needs, and ensured they received ongoing feedback on progress.

“It is service levels of this magnitude which ensure continued business, and I believe we would have to go a long way to find or match this level of support.” Associate Director

The firm now has a dedicated Client Success manager on site to assist with resolving any issues that arise and advise on additional solutions and services that may benefit the business.

AWAN: a wide area network for Africa

IS set up a wide area network for Africa (AWAN), connecting all branches to a single network infrastructure – the IS MPLS VPN network – with one breakout from South Africa to Europe through Interoute. IS also set up a failover link via Frankfurt to ensure guaranteed uptime.

The AWAN solution has enabled the firm to centralise control of its last mile connectivity services and offer seamless communication between branches within Africa and the rest of the world. Improved latency on the network means downtime is now at a minimum. Employees can access and use business-critical applications seamlessly, enabling greater productivity among employees and, ultimately, a better customer experience.

Dealing with one service provider has helped the firm to streamline its services in a cost-effective way, and monitor and optimise bandwidth for branches on the continent.

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