Capital Business Centre

What was the problem exactly?

Capital Business Centre (CBC) is located in the heart of the city of Edinburgh and provides serviced offices, virtual business bases and meeting rooms within CBC House for approximately 30 different businesses of varying sizes. When HighNet approached CBC about upgrading their existing network connectivity it looked similar to the diagram below.

Each business within CBC House was responsible for their own network connectivity and choice of internet service provider (ISP). The ADSL connections were all terminated in the comms room with individual routers and patched through to office space via internal cabling. With so many different routers and ISP’s the CBC management team had great difficulty in troubleshooting any network issues. Business tenants were also unhappy with the bandwidth and reliability they received from these ADSL connections as they required increased upstream bandwidth for uploading large files or to support cloud based solutions. With no Fibre-To-The-Cabinet (FTTC) available and many of the business tenants unable to justify the cost of a dedicated Ethernet circuit the options were limited in terms of improving connectivity.

What did we propose?

CBC needed one supplier to implement a fully managed, business grade connection which could service the whole of the business centre. After hearing of the governments “Super Connected Cities” programme, which offers companies in selected cities in the UK a voucher up to the value of £3000 to cover the one off costs associated with improving connectivity, CBC co-ordinated some of their long term tenants into applying for a joint voucher.

Our proposal was to install a high speed Fibre Ethernet link which would be terminated on a fully managed high powered Cisco router and in turn connected to a series of Cisco switches. This setup would allow CBC to offer pre-defined chunks of the bandwidth to its tenants at a much lower price than they would pay if they were to source individual fibre circuits.

Resilience was an important factor for the customer as all their tenants’ data would be coming in on a single connection. Although there is a business class Service Level Agreement (SLA) covering availability and repair time, we recommended installing a secondary Ethernet circuit, via a different carrier as a back-up. In the unlikely event of there being any problems with the primary circuit, the traffic would automatically failover.

The solution

A survey of all the tenants within the business centre was conducted well in advance of the circuit going live to assess each of their bandwidth/IP addressing/network requirements. HighNet’s implemented solution is represented in this diagram:

The primary connection is a 200Mb/1Gb symmetrical Fibre Ethernet circuit, terminated on a high powered Cisco 3945 router and connected to a series of three Cisco 48 port switches. The bandwidth was split into pre-defined chunks (2Mb, 5Mb, 10Mb, 20Mb) and sold on to the tenants to cover the monthly costs associated with the Fibre Ethernet circuit. The cost to each company for this bandwidth was significantly less than if they were to get their own 10Mb/10Mb connection installed.

In terms of security, each business and their associated bandwidth was given its own VLAN to segregate them from each other. Advanced security policies were also put in place on the router to ensure the privacy of each company’s data.

For resilience an EFM circuit providing 10Mb of symmetrical bandwidth was installed alongside the Fibre Ethernet circuit. This was also terminated on the Cisco router and set up so that should the primary circuit fail for any reason this would automatically become active. This would also ensure the configuration and IP addressing setup on the router would remain the same to provide true business continuity.