Taylor Rose TTKW is law firm with offices throughout the UK. Our first engagement with them came about in 2018, when they asked us to replace their existing Swyx SIP based on premise telephone system in their head office in Peterborough with our Unify OpenScape Business S private cloud hosted system. The brief was to provide only the system itself on a like for like basis. To cut costs, they chose to re-use their existing Unify OpenStage 15 handsets, which had been in use since before their Swyx system, originally bought as part of a Siemens Unify on premise system. Our systems are hosted in a virtual environment on enterprise grade solid state hardware within a tier 3
data centre. Access from customer networks is either via MPLS or IPsec VPN tunnels.
It was as a result of this implementation that we became more and more involved in their network.
Around 3 months after deployment, the head of what they refer to as their “Reception” team started to complain that the system we had provided was not working as they had expected and we were continually firefighting issues with the UC software in particular. We spent many hours investigating what was wrong and how it could be resolved, even bringing representation from Unify themselves to meet with the MD. What we found was that there were a couple of key failings.
Firstly, their request for “like for like”, wasn’t really relevant anymore as actually, their business model had changed significantly due to some acquisition growth. They had become much more of a Contact Centre than a team of receptionists.
Secondly, the networking at Head Office was fundamentally flawed.
The first point above relating to their “Contact Centre vs Reception” issue is going to be covered in a separate case study. What we are focussing on here is what was “bad” with their network and how we made it “good”, or, to stretch the Van analogy even further, how we got them to “trade in” their old Transit van for a brand new Sprinter.
Our initial investigation into the networking on found firstly that their comms room patch cabling was in an appalling state.
Furthermore, the length of CAT5e cabling between the office where the receptionists were based on the ground floor and the comms room on the 3rd floor was at its shortest (patch panel to wall port), 347ft (105m) this in itself being above the maximum limit of 328ft (100m). To add to that, in one case, from the wall port there was a hand made cable of around 20ft long and at the other end in the comms cabinet, the patch leads to the switch were 18ft. Thus, the absolute worst case was a huge 388ft (118m) – way above the maximum. We were left wondering how anything worked at all.
It came to light that the cabling to the Receptionists
office had been installed by a former IT staff member.
The network itself was “flat” with no form of traffic segregation going on in terms of VLANs and with a broadcast domain covering a whole /16 subnet. They had utilised disparate makes of switches and just added more as necessary over the years, always based on cost, never on performance. They were utilising FTTP with was advertised at 1gbps but rarely achieved it, and the internet was connected via a Watchguard firewall.
When we reported back our findings, they informed us that the lease on the building was almost up and that they would be moving to new premises in the near future in any case. They would address these issues at that time.
In the interests of ensuring that the network was installed correctly in their new premises and to make sure the problems didn’t follow them, we offered to carry out the full design and implementation free of charge as long as they promised to follow our recommendations in terms of new hardware and to allow us to be the principle sign off on the LAN cabling work (which they contracted in), to all of which they agreed.
Whilst knowing that they were extremely budget conscious, we designed their new network on 10Gbps fibre backbone between switches and floors (the new premises covered two floors), utilising Ubiquiti Unifi switches. We
VLAN segregated the different elements accordingly and subnetted correctly. We implemented 1Gbps Fibre Ethernet with 100Mbps failover using disparate POPs and separate Juniper routers. The whole thing being controlled by a pair of FortiGate Next Generation firewalls in High Availability mode.
The Unified Threat Management, remote access benefits and granular control of security and access on the FortiGate absolutely blew the IT team away. So much so that the replaced all their existing Watchguards in all of their other offices with FortiGates, even though some of them had only just had their licences renewed.
To finish the whole thing off, we installed Ubiquiti Unifi AP Pro access points and set up proper Guest control with Captive Portal and segregated VLAN and subnet, and utilised RADIUS to manage the corporate network so that staff could connect their work devices seamlessly.
The actual office move took place over a weekend. Staff left their desks on Friday at 5.30pm as usual and reported to their new desks in the new offices on Monday at 9.00am.
They switched on their computers and everything worked as expected – except much faster! Their phones were connected and ready on their desks.
There was not a single issue. Not one.
And alongside the work we did on the telephone system side (we implemented Unify OpenScape Contact Centre Agile), all of the problems they had in their old premises, literally disappeared in a weekend.
What we are most proud of though is not the actual work we did (we love that anyway), but the turning round of a relationship with a customer that believed had received a raw deal, into us becoming a trusted and highly valued business partner. We achieved that by believing what we do is the “right way”, doing what we do well, and above all, putting good customer service at the top of the agenda.