SCC transforms Newcastle County Council’s network with Cisco

The adoption of DNA architecture is now enabling Newcastle County Council (NCC) to recognise and embrace the full benefits of the Cisco DNA-Center, with great potential for the future.

Meeting NCC’s networking needs

It’s far from an understatement to say that life today is extremely challenging for local government throughout the United Kingdom. Following years of funding cuts as a result of austerity measures, many are forced to do much more with far fewer resources.

NCC is no exception here. Jenny Nelson, Digital Lead at NCC, said the council’s budget has been reduced by £300 million over the past ten years, leaving it with some difficult decisions to make about where best to allocate its more limited funds.

But rather than being daunted by the pressures it faces, NCC has seized this as an opportunity to transform itself from the ground up, positioning itself as a more effective and responsive organisation to meet huge challenges such as climate change and an ageing population.

Discovery and implementation

SCC initially engaged with NCC in September 2018 when it began working with the Council to better understand the organisational, technology, commercial, and operational requirements. Following this, SCC assessed the market to ascertain what would meet NCC’s core objectives, conducting an independent review of the market and technically assessing vendor solutions against NCC’s architectural requirements.

The transition to operational support was a critical aspect for NCC and the Cisco option was considered a lower risk for implementation, operational support and integration into their existing and future planned infrastructure. Simplification of the network management was critical, and SCC and Cisco’s solution delivered what NCC wanted.

“Just continuing as we have been is no longer an option. We know that we have to be able to do more with less,” said Nelson. “We’re now on a fantastic journey with our digital transformation work. Our three main objectives include improving how people live their lives in the city and reducing costs. Fundamentally, however, we want to ensure that Newcastle, as a city, is seen as a place for technology innovation, investment and growth. Delivering on all of those three objectives is really key to our digital programme.”

 Early benefits

NCC has already been able to see business benefits from the deployment of Cisco DNA assurance and some automation features on its network, gaining full network visibility and a single point of management.

Paul Monaghan, infrastructure operations manager at NCC said, “We went from a point of having fragmented network visibility to full visibility. We can now see exactly what we need to address and are able to resolve issues more quickly than before. We can patch systems where we never previously could. We have improved our security posture, and we have been able to upgrade the firmware on the switches. This in turn reduces downtime and improves our overall network security. At the same time, the automation of patch roll out and management software means we can make upgrades to sites out of normal office hours, reducing the time it takes to fix faults from days to hours.”

In addition, the customer has implemented the Software Image Management (SWIM) feature that provides a single point to manage multiple resources. Tom Bone, ICT solutions architect at NCC, points out that this further enhances network visibility by enabling the council to maintain a consistent view across its network estate, whereby all network devices adhere to the status of a defined “golden image”.

Adding value with the CX approach

As part of their commitment to realising the customer objectives, Cisco CX and SCC ran discovery sessions to help the customer understand what it had purchased and how best to implement the technology. The CX team helped to upskill NCC’s own IT and network infrastructure engineers to enable the council to make the most of its investment and technology.

As explained by Ben Martinek, Technical Account Manager at SCC, “Customer success is a key part of SCC’s strategy for delivering the best customer outcomes, and SCC is focused on helping NCC realise the value from its investment. The collaborative approach and support from Cisco through the CX model was second to none in helping accelerate the DNAC journey for NCC. The Cisco technical and CX teams helped contextualise some bleeding-edge technology through deep-dive sessions. The Cisco CX team is helping to meet NCC’s goals by co-ordinating the right people to support NCC, ultimately with the customer outcomes at heart.”

The consequence of this collaborative and customer-centric approach is that the NCC now has full confidence in Cisco and SCC to deliver other Cisco solutions, opening the door to further collaboration in future.

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