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BT global managed services bring innovation and collaboration even to some of the planet’s most inhospitable places
When Anglo American increased its shareholding in De Beers to 85 per cent, work began on aligning management and governance systems. As part of the integration process, Craig Charlton, newly-appointed CIO at De Beers, developed an IT strategy to optimise service and value across the De Beers Group of Companies.
Central to this was evaluation of Anglo American strategic service partnerships, including the global managed network services contract with BT. In fact as its original architect, no one was better qualified than Craig to extract the value in that deal.
Merging our separate worldwide networks onto a single BT global platform was part of the strategy to globalise our infrastructure service at De Beers.”
- Craig Charlton, Chief Information Officer, De Beers Group of Companies
From the smartphone that runs your life to the railway that takes you to work, products from mining play vital roles in today’s world. But their sources are unevenly spread around the planet and they’re seldom conveniently placed. That poses peculiar problems for the firms that find and extract them.
Anglo American is just such a company: in fact, one of the world’s largest. David Heppenstall, its chief information technology officer and head of global infrastructure, explains: “We work in the remotest corners of the globe, like 3,500 metres up in the Chilean Andes or hard to reach parts of Africa. It means we face connectivity challenges seldom found in other industries.”
Recently extended to 2018, a global managed services deal between BT and Anglo American originally swept away a large number of different service providers to create a single BT IP Connect global infrastructure. “That assures us of a fast and resilient network anywhere to increase asset automation, improve productivity and drive collaboration across and between our businesses,” adds David.
Now, that global wide area network reaches 160 Anglo American sites across 31 countries linking five regional data centres and nearly 160,000 employees and contractors. Of the five regional data centres, two – in Hortolândia, Brazil, and Dublin, Ireland – are BT Compute facilities. BT Internet Connect at the BT data centres provides high-speed internet access on a global basis.
“One of the great strengths of BT is its strong relationships with local service providers,” says Craig Charlton, CIO at the De Beers Group of Companies. “That’s complemented by its knowledge of our industry and the technical expertise it puts at our disposal.”
The demands on the network have changed in recent times. While at first the primary goal was a joined-up business, Anglo American has since added voice, video and other collaborative apps. The six classes of service (CoS) inherent in BT IP Connect global allow prioritisation of those different types of traffic.
A more recent development has seen BT Connect Optimisation used to drive up the infrastructure’s speed and cost effectiveness. Some 68 appliances have been installed at Anglo American sites globally, including two in each data centre. Based on Cisco technology these perform their magic in two ways: first by using advanced data compression techniques to make better use of bandwidth; and second by locally-caching large files to prevent their repeated transmission across the wide area.
David Walls, global infrastructure architecture manager, says: “We’ve moved from routinely adding expensive bandwidth by ordering ever-larger pipes to putting in smaller pipes that are more efficient, cost us much less and are many times faster.” Anglo American estimates BT Connect Optimisation will save it tens of millions of pounds in network costs over the lifetime of the contract.
An end-to-end BT IP Connect global infrastructure comes with another major plus: the ease of introducing collaborative tools. For a start, a convergence programme has seen the replacement of hundreds of legacy PBXs with BT One Enterprise. This uses Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM) technology. Some 20,000 users are served by UCM hubs in each of the company’s four regions, with full eight-digit desk-to-desk dialling throughout the world.
Meanwhile, BT One Voice ensures that (where regulations permit) international fixed and mobile calls are carried over the BT network and incur only local call charges. Taken together with BT One Enterprise, the company is seeing a significant reduction in its annual call charges.
“As well as the cost savings, we’re now able to operate as a truly global community,” says David Heppenstall. “Connecting with colleagues anywhere in the world can be as simple as picking up the phone and hitting a few keys. That means we share ideas and knowledge much more readily.”
As another collaborative tool, Anglo American uses managed BT One Collaborate video conferencing running over the BT IP Connect global infrastructure.
Six fully-immersive Cisco TelePresence suites (two in London, two in Johannesburg and one each in Rio de Janeiro and Santiago) are achieving 100 per cent utilisation and 99 per cent customer satisfaction. The CoS functionality in the BT IP Connect global infrastructure contributes to that great satisfaction score by speeding the video conferencing traffic ahead of less time-sensitive data. Globally, some 160 other video conferencing devices are in use.
David Heppenstall continues: “A major aim is to help find and share best practice across our businesses wherever it occurs in the world. For example, if someone in Chile has found a way of better utilising our large fleet of haul trucks we need to be able to share that learning across the globe as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
As part of the BT One Collaborate service, the BT global video exchange is used to interconnect video conferences with an ecosystem of partners and suppliers, while the BT video bridging service provides interoperability with legacy video endpoints.
“One of our senior executives has installed a video conferencing suite in his house,” says David Wall. “Now he can collaborate with colleagues anywhere in the world from home rather than spend his life at 35,000 feet. Our vision is for people with smartphones, desk phones, iPads, soft clients, TelePresence, in the office, at home, on the move, to connect and share and fully collaborate.”