No barriers to network performance for sanef

A recognised global leader in innovative road toll systems, sanef in Ireland operates eFlow, the electronic toll system on the M50 motorway. Earlier this year sanef its operations Ireland delivered a back-office IT systems upgrade for eFlow, including a high-performance wide area network (WAN) from AirSpeed Telecom that puts its IT on the right footing for future flexibility and growth.

The eFlow systems managed by sanef are high-volume, business-critical systems which run 24*7*365. The underpinning infrastructure to support this is vital to the organisation's success. sanef not only operates the M50 electronic toll system, but is currently in the process of deploying platforms to administer the interoperability of electronic tags from all suppliers across the Irish toll road network.

Mary Kennedy, IT Technical Services Manager at sanef its operations Ireland explains:

‘Our innovative IT systems support the charging, billing and collection of tolls for approximately 1.8 million individual customers and 540,000 registered accounts, and who generate over 3.5 million vehicle passages on the M50 each month.

‘Given this level of activity, over 63 million customer transactions are handled by our systems on a yearly basis. These transactions span from toll management to payments, as well as customer contact through our call centre, website and post facilities.’

In 2013, sanef its operations Ireland recognised the need to reposition its systems and infrastructure as an enabling component for the future, both financially and operationally. The company undertook an ambitious two-part infrastructure programme to achieve this. Mary Kennedy explains:

‘The big picture was threefold. Firstly, we wanted better return on investment by moving to an op-ex basis for our IT infrastructure, leveraging a “buy-now, use-now” model. Secondly, we sought better alignment of IT to allow our systems to be flexible as our business grows and changes. Thirdly, we wanted to achieve simplicity in our architecture.

‘To deliver these goals we meticulously planned and delivered two major IT infrastructural projects, moving our back office systems to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and re-designing our WAN while moving it to a single provider, AirSpeed Telecom. This new infrastructure enables the sanef IT department to be flexible in deployment of sites and infrastructure and allows IT to move hand-in-hand with business requirements into the future.

‘These projects were launched at the beginning of 2013 and were planned for completion by the end of June this year. It was a hectic time within the IT department but the collaborative communications structures we established between suppliers really delivered the results.’

Single provider for mission-critical, managed WAN

The behind-the-scenes infrastructure supporting the Electronic Toll Solution is complex and sophisticated. In addition to the on-site equipment on the roadway itself, a call centre in Cork handles eFlow’s customer queries , while sanef's Blanchardstown site handles all back-office and operational functions. The enabling IT infrastructure is hosted as Infrastructure as a Service in a Dublin-based cloud data centre environment. These sites are interconnected with third-party systems for payment processing and data exchange.

Links between all points of this infrastructure are configured to be highly available, redundant and are proactively managed and monitored. After considering WAN designs submitted by more than half a dozen suppliers, sanef chose AirSpeed Telecom as its single supplier.

‘Previously the infrastructure had been built up over time. It had become complex with a mixture of technologies and providers. It was critical that we standardise everything and deliver against our goal of simplicity by working with one supplier,’ Mary Kennedy commented. ‘We are delighted we chose AirSpeed to be that supplier. The rollout time was aggressive, giving sanef a sense of urgency and responsiveness that we wouldn’t have gotten from anyone else. They made us feel like we weren't just another number. They were flexible with us, took the time to understand us, and treated us like a partner. When you have that kind of partnership, you can work through anything.’