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Computerworld Hong Kong - enterpriseinnovation.net

Computerworld Hong Kong - enterpriseinnovation.net

CASESTUDYAgeas eyes

CASESTUDYAgeas eyes future with unified networkBut based on projected rising businessgrowth, Ageas HK decided to enhancethe performance and security of its wiredand wireless network by commissioninga comprehensive upgrade from providerH3C.Insurance firm supports expanding business with revamped wireless/wirednetworks with centralized security and management By Chee Sing ChanProblem: Isolated wirelessand wired networks meaninga lack of seamless roamingand burdensome network andsecurity managementSolution: Unified wirelessand wired network systemsfrom H3C with centralizedmanagement platformBenefit: Simplifiedmanagement with greatercapacity to support futurebusiness growth and improvedworker efficiencyChu from Ageas: The new WLAN systemalso had a positive impact on salesrevenue as it facilitated expansion andimproved consultants’ efficiencyAs one of Hong Kong’s largestlife insurance companies,Ageas HK employs around2,400 financial consultants operatingacross three locations across the territory.Ageas is headquartered in the UK,and is able to leverage global capabilitiesand expertise in delivering insuranceservices to local clients in HongKong.Mobility has become a key requirementof day-to-day business at AgeasHK. In addition to the usual mobile devicesthat staff use outside the office,there is also a critical demand to be mobilewithin the office. Ageas had previouslyinstalled wireless networks at itspremises to ensure that all staff and consultantsare able to serve clients withinthe office premises.Wireless isolationThe previous wireless system at itsLangham Place office in Mongkok,Kowloon, was made up of three isolatedwireless networks on each of its threefloors.According to Sunny Chu, seniormanager, IT Operations, InformationTechnology, Ageas HK, this made itimpossible for consultants to do wirelessroaming across different floorswithout changing settings. And sinceeach floor had its own access network,it wasn’t possible to have central securitycontrol. This meant that centralizedand unified wired/wireless networkmanagement wasn’t available—furtheradding to the workload of network administrators.“As our business grew we quicklycame to realize some key challenges thatcome with growth and expansion, particularlyaround supporting our consultants’increasing need for access to clientinformation and our product portfolio,”said Chu.“The isolated networks at each floorleft us with issues around reliability,stability and network security,” he said.“We very deliberately chose a solutionthat allowed for easy management of ournetwork with plenty of room to growwith our business,”Chu noted that it was during the startof 2010 that the company decided to24 Computerworld Hong Kong April 2011 www.cw.com.hk

consolidate the isolated networks ofeach floor into a single platform in orderto relieve in-house IT personnel from theburden of supporting the separate networkson each floor.Network controlIn order to do this and to facilitatefuture business expansion, the networkupgrade included a new 802.11n WLANsystem from H3C as well as a unifiedthreat management (UTM) platform toprovide firewall, VPN, application controland optional web filtering and antispamfunctions.With this in place, all out-going andincoming web traffic can be centrallycontrolled using the H3C UTM platform.Chu added that the applicationcontrol function is a value-added featurethat can help control individual staff useof applications such as Hotmail, BitTorrentetc.The migration occurred without any hitches andtoday we enjoy a more secure and centrally managednetwork— Sunny Chu, Ageas HKWhile the deployment started in January2010 and completed in March, theselection process prior to implementationinvolved evaluation of a number ofproviders and products.“We had several major criteria tobase our evaluations on and specificfunctions to assess such as wirelessbandwidth control, user authentication,centralized firewall and securitycontrol,” said Chu. “But the two criticalfactors were ease-of-use and richmanagement features that would enableus to have visibility and controlover the wired and wireless networksin addition to the centralized networksecurity function.”Chu noted that H3C was able to meetall Ageas’ requirements and during theproject his team provided comprehensivesupport throughout all phases of thedesign and implementation of project.“They created a virtual team comprisedof the Ageas HK project manager andon-site engineers to help ensure that theroll-out was smooth, efficient and onbudget,”he added.Parts of the processThe complete package from H3C featureda unified network of core switch,edge switch, wireless and security products.The upgrade comprised of one H3CS7503E core chassis as the mainbackbone switch, complemented byan S7503E Salience VI-Lite switchand route procession unit that deliversswitching capacity of 480Gbps.The three floors of the LanghamPlace office are equipped with S3600switches to provide PoE for 802.11nwireless connectivity at 300Mbps. EachS3600 switch features dual fiber GigabitEthernet (GE) connection for highreliability.The highly reliable switching backboneminimizes the risk of wireless attacks,which helps avoid any systemdowntime and offers a more resilientnetwork.“This gave Ageas HK increased peaceof mind regarding network performance,reliability and availability,” said Chu.“The new WLAN system also had apositive impact on sales revenue as itfacilitated expansion and improved consultants’efficiency.”The entire set-up is managed byH3C’s Intelligent Management Centre(iMC), providing network administratorswith a single, easy-to-manage platformto configure and monitor both thewired and wireless networks, as wellas security. This marked a significantimprovement in terms of operating efficiencycompared to Ageas HK’s legacysystem.Staff gainsChu observed that the company hasbenefitted from improved WLAN networkcoverage and zero interference.The upgrade to a unified wireless networkhas allowed consultants to easilyconnect to the network and seamlesslyroam across the different floors.The management capabilities allowAgeas HK to easily re-assign new staffor current people to new or differentroles within the company. “Every usertoday can be managed through the H3CUTM platform, giving us visibility ofthe websites they access and the applicationsthey are using,” added Chu.Key challenges during the project includedan extremely tight timeline forsuch a large project implementation. “Inreality, we only had two months in totalincluding shipment and installation, yetthe project was completed within budgetand on time,” Chu said.He added that one of the biggestchallenges was to migrate the networkconfiguration from each floor and consolidateit all under one roof. “The migrationoccurred without any hitchesand today we enjoy a more secure andcentrally managed network.”Ageas HK now has the peace of mindit was seeking in terms of network reliabilityand security that was part of theirrationale for commissioning the project,noted H3C sales manager Wilson Cheung.3www.cw.com.hkApril 2011 Computerworld Hong Kong 25

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