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Data Networks Case Study

Metro Express uses Over the Wire for Data NetworksThousands of businesses across the Asia Pacific region rely on Metro Express for their logistical operations. In 2011, the company’s Rocklea based head office was flooded, causing major disruptions to their Australian network.

Upgrades to their IT infrastructure by Over the Wire have ensured that they remained operational during a similar crisis in 2013.

“In 2011, I would say that we were completely unprepared” commented Metro Express’ Group IT Manager Richard Wainstein.  “Servers went under water and backups weren’t working properly; offices were unable to share data, and we were forced to operate off mobile phones for the duration of the flood. Our servers were located in our office, running through a single exchange server, so when Rocklea went offline, the rest of the country followed suit.”

Over the Wire began collaborating with Metro Express on a solution in late 2011, to ensure that this problem wouldn’t occur again.

It was recommended that Metro Express colocate their critical infrastructure in Over the Wire’s Spring Hill data centre where the risk of downtime was minimal. In addition they were advised to reconfigure their Wide Area Network (WAN). “The WAN reconfiguration was critical to the process as it needed to be used as the backbone of Metro Express' infrastructure” said Over the Wire Account Manager, Chris Jacko. "This way, in the event of a failure at one office the others could continue working unaffected on their colocated infrastructure.”

Metro Express also opted to take up IP Voice services and a Hosted PBX from Over the Wire to save on their call costs. An added advantage of this was that it enabled Metro Express to redirect where inbound calls were being answered - phone numbers were no longer tied to specific sites, which enabled business to carry on as usual during the crisis.

“We began by migrating our server infrastructure to the data center.  To make sure we didn’t disrupt our offices in Australia and Singapore, we had to schedule the cutovers for after 8pm. Over the Wire supplied us with an after-hours tech and kept rack space on reserve so the job was done in a short space of time” Wainstein recalled. “Once we realised just how well it worked we began upgrading and now we have all of our infrastructure in the DC”.

“We’ve been collaborating with Over the Wire closely throughout the migration process and we have been very impressed with the expertise of their staff. They’re not just advising us from a technical standpoint, but from a security point of view, from a point of view that considered the long term welfare of Metro Express.”

When it was announced in early 2013 that Rocklea was looking at a flood of a similar magnitude to that of 2011 Metro Express was prepared. “We evacuated our office and operated out of several remote locations via VPNs. But because all of our servers were located safely in the data centre, Over the Wire was able to connect our IP phones directly to SIP trunks, have our calls rerouted to our new locations, and we were able to continue working with virtually no disruption.”

“We put a plan together in the space of two days and on the first business day back we were operational. Over the Wire technicians were there to help us set up when we needed them and the quality of service we received was sensitive to the fact that we were in a difficult situation. There was no discussion about the scope of what was and wasn’t covered, the issues just got resolved.”

This meant that employees could access all their systems and emails as per normal. The only change for Metro Express was that the Brisbane office was in a different location. “Because of the speed of Over the Wire’s links we were able to avoid disruptions to our customers by sharing the load amongst our other offices”. Wainstein recounted. Data traffic to other sites was controlled by Quality of Service (QoS) on the links.

By continuing operations Metro Express was able to keep cash flow moving, pay their employees, and avoid disruptions to their customers. “The two days operating remotely paid its dividends” Wainstein stated. “It was a huge change from last time. There was virtually no downtime in terms of working hours to the business. We did have an issue when we started in our remote site – this was at six or seven in the morning – we called Over the Wire and spoke to someone who was alert, ready to help, and able to help. Within five minutes flat they had solved the problem.”

Metro Express Transport Group is a privately owned company with over 20 years of experience in the transport sector. With operations spanning Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore Metro Express is able to deliver internationally, and by incorporating a wide range of technologies, give their customers the ability to monitor the status of their deliveries in real time with an online Proof of Delivery reporting system.