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January 8, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:02am

Fulham FC achieves network goals with exponential-e

The English Premiership football club increased network capacity tenfold with multi-site WAN upgrade.

By Duncan Macrae

Fulham Football Club (Fulham FC) is the oldest of London’s first class clubs. Its long history began back in 1879 with some Sunday-school boys knocking a ball around on a long-forgotten park pitch. All a far cry from the international players that make up the Premier League team of today.

Challenge

Fulham FC was experiencing increasingly frequent network failures which were impacting on its application performance. The existing network was proving slow and increasingly inadequate to cope with the demand of Wi-Fi for fans and media on match days, and Internet access for delegates at the many corporate events the club holds.

Fulham FC began to look for alternative solutions that would provide network resiliency, reliability and sufficient bandwidth to cope with increasing capacity demand.

The new network not only needed to support corporate applications, but also third parties who needed to access the network whilst providing a high level of resilience to ensure the network didn’t suffer outages.

Another important consideration was the addition of new Cloud services the club was looking at adopting services such as CCTV and corporate governance solutions which would allow the club to improve its current services, while minimising capital expenditure costs.

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Solution

Fulham FC recognised increased bandwidth capacity on its Wide Area Network (WAN) would be a high priority and sourced a partner which could provide high-speed, quality Internet access for all its new services.

Exponential-e was chosen to design and deploy a new WAN for Fulham FC after being selected following a rigorous process including proposals from two Tier-1 WAN providers. The deciding factors were Exponential-e’s ability to converge multiple services across the WAN and the simplicity of the network solution put forward.

Exponential-e worked closely with Fulham FC to deploy a three site WAN that connects Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage Stadium with the Motspur Park training facilities and the club’s third party ticketing partner.

"What made Exponential-e different was the ability to securely separate and converge, multiple services across one connection. The solution was simple and offered us real flexibility and was something no one else was able match " explains Spencer Haywood, head of IT, Fulham FC.

Exponential-e’s Layer 2 Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS) provides Fulham FC with a highly resilient platform that enables multiple services to seamlessly converge over a single network — offering a simple and easy-to-manage design.

The new high-bandwidth connection and added network resilience immediately addressed the Club’s issues with network reliability while network capacity was increased tenfold. The extra capacity gives Fulham FC the scalability to take forward plans to deploy new applications and services across the network such as VMware, Guest Wi-Fi and IP CCTV.

VPLS technology enabled the Craven Cottage and Motspur Park sites to be backed up with diverse connections to provide additional resilience against network outages. Should an unforeseen event occur, an automated failover to secondary circuits will take place, reducing downtime and ensuring Business Continuity.

Security was also a key consideration for Fulham FC as it needed to ensure safe and secure transfer of private and transactional information for fans and customers.

The Club decided to connect to its ticketing partner’s network via a centralised firewall which sits in the Exponential-e Cloud and provides an additional buffer for the club’s network — further mitigating the risk of a network breach. Hosted from secure Tier III data centres, the centralised firewall is not only highly secure, but allows Fulham FC’s IT team to change security policies and routing themselves from one central point, providing the club with complete control over its security.

By using separate VLANs for Internet, data backup and ticketing, Exponential-e was able to maintain separacy of each service and provide Fulham FC with additional security, while removing complexity from the solution.

The simplicity of the network design also enables the Club to provide controlled access to its network in support of third party events held at the club, increasing the quality of service it provides to its fans, patrons and corporate customers.

Benefits

Fulham FC now has a state-of-the-art three site WAN with increased capacity and resiliency. The club has enjoyed 100% uptime on the network since the deployment. The additional bandwidth and network simplicity has allowed Fulham FC to securely scale up network bandwidth for third party events such as the UEFA Cup Women’s final and Socceraid.

Results

– Tenfold increase in network capacity
– Network topology designed to provide seamless connectivity between three sites
– Robust centralised firewall security
– Extra resilience mitigating the risk of network downtime

 

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