Local Gov IT: Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council creates PSN-ready network | Mantis Public Relations

Local Gov IT: Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council creates PSN-ready network

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Press coverage highlights from story:

Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council (RMBC) is investing in a new Wide Area Network (WAN), supplied by public sector network specialist Updata Infrastructure Ltd (Updata).

The new network will provide improved broadband access to an initial 130 sites, including all primary schools and Council corporate sites in the Borough, and will be “PSN ready” i.e. for Public Services Network (PSN) when complete.  The network will enable far greater flexibility for RMBC in terms of property management & usage, site provisioning, networking technology used, and staff working practices.  RMBC expects to see return on investment within three years, with significantly reduced ongoing costs thereafter.

The tender for the new network was issued via www.the-chest.org.uk, the North West Local Authority Procurement portal, in November 2011.  It is a five year framework contract open to all Local Authorities within AGMA (www.AGMA.gov.uk) – the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities – and was awarded to Updata in February 2012.

The WAN will initially connect over 4,000 PCs, 4,000 phones and 5,000 individual users.  Updata’s investment will also extend affordable, high-speed broadband access out to private sector businesses within the Borough and help support the Council’s overall commitment to local regeneration.

A key driver for RMBC was a property rationalisation programme, which began in January 2011 and which includes the creation of a new head office building in the centre of Rochdale, into which staff from many other buildings will be consolidated. Helen Gerling, ICT Strategy and Planning Manager at RMBC, explains: “Our asset consolidation strategy meant we needed to relocate many of our core WAN site connections. We undertook a cost comparison exercise of making minimal changes to what we already had versus tendering for a new bespoke network. We chose the latter option.”

Helen continues: “Updata offered us a very unique approach that was 35 per cent cheaper than restructuring our existing WAN connections. When the new network is implemented, Rochdale will have a future proofed, scalable and resilient network that will support flexible working across the Borough.  It will provide the ability to add or remove any connections at a lower cost and without disruption to the rest of the network.  Now, if a site requires 10Mbps we can commission a 10Mbps EFM connection, as an alternative to using expensive fibre connections throughout the network. It is a PSN ready network enabling us to connect to the Government Conveyance Network (GCN).”

The MPLS based PSN ready network features a high capacity core fibre ring connecting Rochdale, Middleton, Heywood and Littleborough.  All four nodes will be live by the end of April 2012 and migration of end sites will commence immediately afterwards. The first site to go live will be the new Rochdale Leisure Centre.

Local access connection speeds currently range between a minimum of 10Mbps up to 1Gbps, and Updata will provide faster connections for RMBC when required. Sites are connected utilising a full portfolio of options including Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM), Fibre and, when available, BT Wholesale’s 21CN Next Generation Network.  Updata will also use the same physical infrastructure to offer Internet and associated services to local businesses across Rochdale Borough, ensuring that the entire area as a whole can benefit from resilient, secure, fast and flexible business broadband.

Helen continues: “With this investment, we are putting in place an infrastructure that will benefit all of Rochdale. Besides cost and technical design, a key selection criterion for us was trust in our supplier to deliver what we needed in tight timescales.  Updata has a significant track record in designing and deploying public sector networks, and their approach fits with what we as a local authority want to achieve. Updata’s willingness to collaborate with us, and to be transparent about processes and performance data, means that we know they stand by their SLAs.”

Victor Baldorino from Updata commented – “Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council has taken a very innovative approach to meeting not just the needs of the Council but also the requirements of the wider Rochdale community. Whilst value for money remains absolutely a top priority; RMBC is proof that this should not impede the overall vision.  This vision of how a flexible and high performance, ‘PSN ready’ network infrastructure enables collaboration and benefits the wider local community is one that we are very proud to be associated with.“

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