UNIPEC is a crude-oil buying and shipping company, and the UK trading arm of Chinese state-owned SINOPEC – the company responsible for supplying many of the petrol pumps in south China. From its Shepherd’s Bush office, the UNIPEC team undertakes commodities trading as well as managing shipping and operations around the transportation of cargo.
Since moving into its London office in 2010, UNIPEC has always demanded a lot from its internet connection. Working with financial trading applications such as Reuters and Bloomberg, the company required a robust backup connection to maintain operations in case of any downtime, and so had paired a BT Fibre connection with a Wireless link to Luminet’s Network in the Sky for resilience.
In 2014, IT Manager John Hurworth decided it was time to make big changes. He explains:
“Up until 2014, all our computer systems were on site which meant that all our dependencies were in the same building. We decided we needed to move our computer systems into colocation data centres, connected with diverse circuits for full resilience. Using two data centre locations and two wholly separate telecoms connections would significantly reduce risk.”
Commodities trading companies are typically located in the City of London; an area with lots of powerful cables already installed under the roads, serving the intensive requirements of the companies nearby. But UNIPEC’s office is in Shepherd’s Bush – a residential area. Not only are the network connections here inferior to the City, buy laying any new cables would cause significant disruption and require lengthy Council approval.
Hurworth looked into all the options available in his search for diverse links into his two new colocation data centres. He comments:
“I already had diverse primary and backup network connections into the office, using Luminet’s wireless service as the backup, but now I wanted an active/active network setup. I looked into all the options for fully diverse connections but ultimately a Fibre-only solution needed two different Fibre lines running under the road and we just didn’t have that in our area. A dig would be costly and cause a minimum six month delay on the project. It started to become obvious that upgrading our Luminet connection might be the best option.”
Hurworth spoke to the Luminet team to investigate boosting its 2Mbps backup Luminet Wireless Pro connection (previously known as Fibre-Air) to a far higher capacity 1Gbps circuit.
“Our Luminet backup had got us out of jail on a number of occasions, so we were confident in the technology and knew the team there to be both fast and professional. In order to upgrade the connection to 1Gbps, Luminet needed to replace the existing antenna on the roof – a process which went without a hitch.”
UNIPEC now has its active/active diverse network circuits, using a BT Fibre line and Luminet’s Wireless Pro 1Gbps resilient link. Both networks are in use all of the time, with a load balancer distributing traffic between the two connections and data centres.
All UNIPEC’s trading and market data comes through internet services such as Bloomberg and Reuters, and the networks carry this critical traffic alongside every other piece of internet traffic in and out of the company.
“The diverse network approach is completely hidden from our users – there is no reason for them to notice the difference as there is absolutely no degradation,” said Hurworth. “Even for those of us on the networks team looking closely at the results, we have seen no latency issues at all, and no outages whatsoever.”
With the remodelling of UNIPEC’s computer systems such a success, Hurworth is plotting the next improvement and planning to move all voice traffic over to IP on his new network connections within the next six months.
Hurworth concludes, “I am very confident that the next stage of the plan – for voice traffic to join the rest of our data on our network – will go as smoothly as the previous stages have. Perhaps if we were located in the City I would have had two cables ready and waiting for us under the road, but the overall result of our approach is just as successful and completely avoided any digging!”
Summary of key benefits:
- Complete redesign of company computer systems for added resilience
- Reached new heights with fully diverse 1Gbps active/active network configuration connecting the two separate data centres
- Future plans to move all voice traffic onto the network
Luminet is on a mission to help businesses Rise Above with London’s Network in the Sky by embracing the fast, busy, thriving side of London and the opportunities it presents by providing excellent connectivity.
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