Food Standards Agency

Food-Standards-Agency-Cross-supplier-collaboration-drives-enterprise-grade-connectivity-across-the-UK

Cross-supplier collaboration drives enterprise-grade connectivity across the UK

About the FSA

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is an independent government department that works across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to protect public health by maintaining food safety and hygiene standards. Through a rigorous, scientific approach, the FSA ensures consumers across the UK can trust the food they eat is both safe and correctly labelled.

The environment in which we operate and the connectivity we need is rapidly evolving. Working with the Exponential-e team, we've valued their expertise in being able to migrate us from one environment to another and the innovation that they've been able to bring to that changing landscape.

Tim Lewis, Solutions Architect, Food Standards Agency

Solution 

The resulting migration involved close collaboration and coordination with other participants in the Evolve IT programme, particularly the LAN and service desk providers, in order to minimise service disruption and ensure a successful integration with the existing infrastructure. This involved multiple weekly or daily calls - covering everything from product management to solution design - which not only maintained open channels of communication, but also helped drive better customer relations - a model that continues to this day.

The resulting deployment boosted connectivity at plant sites across the UK, with a new network infrastructure that connects back to the FSA's corporate network. Secured by a centralised firewall, the network consists of the FSA's five main office sites with fibre WAN, plus all 173 plant sites. Exponential-e also took ownership of the FSA's 173 PSTN lines, in order to manage its entire plant estate. Other key elements were a resilient, high-performance centralised internet, colocation based in Enfield and SSL VPN remote access to the FSA's corporate network for 1,200 end users. Later, these new channels for remote working proved invaluable in allowing the FSA to respond quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to a 24 / 7 x 365 service desk, Exponential-e also provided a dedicated account director and service manager, who would provide tailored reporting at all meetings and play an active part in identifying and acting on new opportunities. Taking a proactive, customer-focused approach to resolving service issues has allowed Exponential-e to actively support the FSA's 'Evergreen' initiative, utilising a strategic renewal plan, where savings from unused ADSL lines are used to upgrade to FTTC, which was later extended to all FSA sites.

This hands-on support was further enhanced with centralised monitoring, utilising the Insight Advanced and Insight for Broadband solutions, which improved operational efficiency and helped drive more data-driven decision making, leading to tangible cost savings and a move towards 'internet first' strategies.

This level of agility and scalability was only achieved by developing close partnerships between the FSA, Exponential-e and other Evolve IT participants, which have continued developing since the point of inception, building on a strong, scalable foundation to support ongoing growth and deliver new innovations on a regular basis.

When your organisation is geographically spread, robust connectivity is a vital strategic asset to underpin effective remote working and access. In these situations, a good end-user experience is key, because people can't understand why such a simple thing should be so hard. The network we've implemented with the FSA is designed to create a better and more productive working environment and provide the stable platform required to meet compliance and regulation timeframes.

David Lozdan, Head of Public Sector Sales, Exponential-e

To ensure food standards and safety, it's vital for us to provide a secure, reliable communications platform with a good user experience for our team of inspectors. This has been especially true during COVID-19 where the ability to act and communicate swiftly and effectively has been essential to keeping the food supply lines safe and operational.

Tim Lewis, Solutions Architect, Food Standards Agency

 Challenges

With FSA inspectors working at more than 173 plant sites across the UK, optimal connectivity for their central network is essential, in order to manage the high volumes of critical data collected and maintain visibility of each site. In 2017, the FSA therefore made the decision to centralise their various managed services contracts, moving to a Service Integration and Management (SIAM) model. This initiative was part of their FSA Evolve IT programme, with the goal being to simplify their billing and enable a more agile approach to IT infrastructure, built on a reliable, high-performance network.

Solution benefits

  • Stress-free migration, with zero service disruption.
  • Secure interconnection of five main offices and 173 plant sites, for effortless collaboration.
  • Increased focus on strategic IT operations and future upscaling.
  • Centralised monitoring and tailored reporting for improved visibility.
  • Improved cross-supplier communication and customer relations.

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