WWF wild about comms upgrade

Case study: How Telstra's network upgrade has boosted the conservation group

Case study: How Telstra's network upgrade has boosted the conservation group

Since embarking on a project to upgrade its corporate network two years ago, conservation organisation the WWF has achieved much more than it originally intended.

Working with the telecommunications company Telstra International, the WWF moved from a complex and inefficient infrastructure of disparate internet lines feeding the charity's offices to a much simpler MPLS network.

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Network manager at WWF UK, Ian Exton, told silicon.com: "Our brief to our prospective suppliers was we wanted faster, better managed communications and we want it for no more than we're paying at the moment."

The organisation has recently consolidated its operations into four regional offices in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and so needed a new network designed to serve these locations.

The work fulfilled the WWF's initial requirements but as part of the upgrade, Telstra suggested the network should terminate in a colocation facility in London - something Exton's team hadn't really considered.

The introduction of the colo meant the servers in the local offices could be removed, reducing the organisation's carbon footprint.

Exton explained that the organisation has placed services that need to be close to the network hub - such as email - in the colo while data that needs to be kept more secure is hosted in its main office.

As well as acting as the central point for the management of the network, the colo also serves as a disaster recovery facility, email hub and data back-up with bandwidth of up to 100Mbps available in extreme situations.

As 90 per cent of the WWF's income is from charitable contributions, backing up the finance and contact systems is particularly important.

"It's taken us a couple of years actually to exploit all of the opportunities that we could get out of the colo and to think about our network design and the way we work," Exton added.

The new network has also boosted the options for flexible working for the organisation's employees, in part through its ability to support much larger data and image files.

"We couldn't actually afford to say to anybody you can work from home before because we just didn't have the lines that supported the traffic that they needed," Exton said.

In the future, Exton said the organisation will work with Telstra to improve flexible working options for staff - partly to cut down on office space required - and pursue virtualisation to further cut emissions.

"What we're looking to do next is reducing our travel by using that network and design and maybe upping the capacity to run things like video and collaboration-type environments," Exton said.