Knowledge Hub Case Study

Scalable IT Leads to High Performance

Thu 29 Aug 2019

How a new network infrastructure increases sustainably and network reliability

In a growing organisation the IT network capacity and reliability are essential and so is the need for access speed. The modular system that Groupe SMA implemented for data centre and its network infrastructure, together with enhanced support leads to an easy to install and easy to manage solution including the scalability for future growth.

The Groupe SMA is a French mutual insurance company primarily serving the construction and civil engineering sector. With more than 3,200 employees serving its 150,000 members, the company has a turnover of more than two billion Euro. As a result, Groupe SMA is the leading French insurance company for construction industries.

For over 160 years, the organisation has constantly adapted to different market developments by trusting its values of expertise and innovation. Previously, 1,300 head office employees were spread among five buildings with outdated network infrastructures. This inevitably led to challenges in scalability and capacity, as well as increasing operational expenses which it needed to control.

To support the continued growth of its overall business and to drive operational efficiencies, the organisation decided to migrate to a new 380,000 square foot building in Paris. This move would allow the company to manage a facility with full IP capabilities, allowing for more communication points than the previous facilities and drive its critical voice, data, and video needs, along with security-surveillance, access control, clocks, and AV systems and controls. The consolidation would allow opportunities to expand its business and maximise space utilisation while reducing its operational expenses.

The new building would involve merging 1,300 people, two data centres, more than 7000 drops and 39 telecom rooms. In addition, the new facility needed to highlight Groupe SMA’s commitment to building quality structures to stay relevant within the construction industry.

“Upgrading our facility would provide an optimised environment for employees to collaborate freely, enhancing productivity. We also want the ability to quickly add new business applications and upgrades as they occur,” said David Marais, DSI, Groupe SMA.

Increased Resource Utilisation

The merged facilities would provide better use of existing resources and increase manpower productivity. Consolidating all offices into one facility would increase manageability and eliminate the operating cost of multiple facilities. Implementing a complete upgrade of its IT Infrastructure, would increase its support for business innovation and help maintain its competitive advantage. Specifically, supporting 5,400+ public IPs for access and use of centralised corporate resources would allow the company to realise this goal.

“We needed a solutions provider that could offer a one-stop shopping experience where our business could run smoothly and quickly throughout the transition and into the future,” said Marais.

As part of the project, the company chose system integrator SPIE for its expertise in infrastructure cabling while Eiffage Energie handled the building cabling. Cisco Catalyst 3850 switches were chosen and needed a maintenance solution compatible with the Cisco equipment. SPIE and distributor CCF Sonepar, which managed the global products logistics, recommended Panduit for its quality, experience and expertise.

Considering the building’s specific design and significant size – 10 levels split into five geographical zones, served by four telecom rooms per level -, the client planned to pre-connect the switches to all the network access points. This would reduce the accesses and the handling operations in the telecom rooms and easily manage the 7000 ports and ensure a clean aesthetic in the operational areas.

The company deployed Net-Access S-Type Server Cabinets to house the Cisco core switches and network fabric devices. These cabinets provide effective thermal management to ensure optimised equipment operation and increased uptime.

The highly flexible modular system provides for future expansion of the data centre, as more cabinets can be added to the system and as network upgrades occur. The open-rack accessibility contributes to data centre aesthetics with properly routed cables which improves network accessibility and availability. Cabinet and door design has been optimised for airflow management to ensure maximum cool air passes across the live equipment.

Cabling to 39 Telecom Rooms

After finding the demo results from another supplier to be unsatisfactory, the company decided to consider jumper cabling and met with Panduit during the RFP (request for proposal) process. Panduit Implemented the QuickNet Plug Pack Assembly in each of the 39 telecom rooms to help facilitate quick and easy connections and to provide rapid patching application for the Cisco Catalyst 3850 switch. The mass plugging capability reduces the time and cost associated with installing and maintaining structured cabling links.

Category 6A copper cabling connects several of Cisco’s higher band switches internally for maximum bandwidth, network reliability, and a migration path for future applications in Groupe SMA’s data centre and across the enterprise. Panduit Mini-Com modular jacks, patch panels, and adapters were deployed across the installation, providing flexibility to simplify moves, adds, and changes, (MACs) and reduce operational expenses.

Groupe SMA successfully moved from multiple locations it had outgrown to one with a larger and more reliable data centre in a very short time. The features of the new data centre will also help reduce the cost of MACs in the future and maintain an optimised topology across the enterprise.

“The result meets our expectations and the solution is flexible enough to plug cable jumpers in various colours. Within the framework, where there is a specific need, instead of one cable for a jumper, the QuickNet connector is on every port of the switch,” said Marais.

For more information on the solutions discussed: www.panduit.com

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