How a high performing, secure, reliable network infrastructure is effectively serving multiple parties at a leading British theatre company using VLANs

 

 

 

Company Background

As one of Britain’s leading theatre companies and a springboard for many internationally acclaimed actors, designers and directors, our client is on an exciting journey, returning back to its former home, following a long-term renovation.

 

 

The Challenge and Solution

With the delivery of a number of projects, including new servers, VDI, and Enterprise WiFi, a key step included the implementation of the network infrastructure to connect the servers with employees’ PCs, laptops, mobile devices and network printers, to ensure communication between them all.

 

With a dispersed network across the theatre’s site, and five separate data cabinets around the building, not only did the theatre company need to provide a high performance, reliable infrastructure but they also needed to ensure that the multiple parties requiring network access were effectively served, including:

  • Staff, visitors and delegates requiring WiFi access
  • The theatre company’s catering sub-contractors

 

The outsourced catering company had their own PCs, tills and EPOS equipment installed onsite.  Access to the internet is required for these devices to connect to each other and also talk back to the sub-contractor’s data centre. 

 

With an expansive network, incorporating a large number of network ports scattered around the theatre’s large building, Tek-nology Solutions was challenged to ensure that:

  • Traffic traversed in an optimal manner
  • Network traffic from different parties securely traverses the single, physical network.  The aim was to manage the security implications of sharing the theatre company’s network infrastructure – preventing the need to install separate physical networks, with associated cabling and network switches, to cater for each function.

 

 

The Solution and Results

 

Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs)

Tek-nology Solutions installed and configured managed switches that enabled VLANs to be created that partition the physical network.  Network packets are marked through tagging and logically separated as ‘virtual segments’ to enable a single physical network route to transport data for various VLANS.  This ensures that different parties and services can use the same infrastructure – over the one physical network – but the traffic on it remains separate and secure.

 

Network Switches

The network switches Tek-nology Solutions selected and installed to support the VLANs support security policies.  For example, guest WiFi visitors and the outsourced catering systems can only access the internet, ensuring the theatre’s back office systems are secure.

 

Within the server room, Tek-nology Solutions built a core switch platform – a number of switches with a resilient core backbone infrastructure that once connected behave as if they are just one switch.  Should a particular switch fail in the switch stack, the others remain working.

 

The theatre company is pro-actively alerted to potential problems.   Managed switches provide insight into network traffic to identify network performance and bottlenecks via automated emails. This enables issues to be addressed before they have manifested themselves as problems causing downtime. Previously, IT Administrators had no accurate way of providing any insight into bottlenecks or other performance problems relating to the existing network equipment and traffic.

 

Power over Ethernet

As part of the solution, Power over Ethernet (PoE) has been introduced, delivered via PoE network switches.  This has enabled the theatre company’s wireless access points (part of the Aruba Networks Wireless Project), located around the building, to be powered via the network cable. This has prevented the need for a separate power supply to be connected to each device, and consequently has avoided increased cable clutter.

 

Owing to the distances involved, it was not possible to locate copper network sockets around the whole building and bring back to one central location.  Five different locations were created that housed communication cabinets.  This enabled each area to be cabled with copper network points which then terminate in the respective communications cabinet; these cabinets are subsequently connected to the server room using fibre.

 

 

Key Vendors/Technologies

  • HP advanced smart managed Fast Ethernet switches
  • Including Power over Ethernet (PoE) models
  • Fibre port modules for uplinks
  • Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs)
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