Phones 4u selects Cisco's network over HP and Brocade in infrastructure upgrade

By Sooraj Shah
17 Dec 2013 View Comments
Phones4u store front

Smartphone retailer Phones 4u has upgraded its infrastructure with the help of managed services provider Logicalis.

The retailer's previous infrastructure was based on a flat network with no access switches or integration layer.

Further reading

Dave Robertson, head of IT services at the company, told Computing that the infrastructure was aging and its core switches were reaching the end of their life.

"It's fair to say we'd neglected our infrastructure and network in the past in favour of front-end platform and services," he said.

"We recognised that this was a risk to us as an organisation, and I went away to secure the budget to address that risk," he added.

The firm started its infrastructure project by assessing the technology that it needed. It looked at networking solutions from the likes of HP and Brocade, but Robertson believed that Cisco's solution was more aligned to the business "given previous investments".

This included a Cisco telephony contract earlier in the year that Phones 4u awarded to an incumbent organisation, which Robertson declined to disclose.

"We looked at the top core networking providers, not any niche providers, and we realised soon after than we wanted to progress with the Cisco solution," Robertson said.

Thereafter, Phones 4u had three managed services providers who pitched "more or less the same Cisco solution" to the company.

The solution included a Cisco Nexus 7K switch for the core network, the Nexus 5K for the integration layer and the Nexus 2K for the access layer.

Phones 4u decided that Logicalis was the best of those involved in the tender process. Robertson declined to reveal the names of the other providers.

"Logicalis stood out, not from a technology perspective but from the way it engaged with us, the quality of people and the confidence I had in the organisation to deliver the project," said Robertson.

He continued: "We had already experienced the quality of their proposals - the way they pitched the business, they brought the right people to the right meetings," Robertson said.

He added that Logicalis was also a more "commercially attractive" proposition than the other managed services providers, but that this was not a determining factor.

Implementation

The implementation process took four months between November 2012 and March 2013.

As part of the project, point-of-sale (POS) systems across its 680 High Street stores, customer service and call-centre applications, CRM, finance and HR systems were all migrated.

"Working with Logicalis, we've now seamlessly migrated all our services to a new infrastructure in which we have full visibility - because believe it or not, previously we didn't know what was plugged in to our core switches or where - and one that makes it easy for us to add, move, scale and change services as we move forward," Robertson explained.

He said that Logicalis completed the infrastructure build with zero-downtime.

"A core infrastructure project should be invisible to the end users as we weren't changing any end user functionality. The one success factor I would measure this on is user downtime and user interruption, and there was zero of either of those," he stated.

Robertson added that Logicalis delivered the project on time, on budget and with no impact to Phones 4u users. As a result, it has contracted them to manage its entire LAN infrastructure.

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