Background:

Mr Hans Goosen, IT Manager at BidAir Cargo, contacted 5th Mountain Networks (Pty) LTD towards the end of 2020 seeking assistance with regard to the BidAir Cargo’s Wide Area Network and Dedicated Server Hosting.

5th Mountain Networks formed a project team with Mr Goosen and his team to deliver a state of the art network while realising significant cost savings compared to the current network and its associated costs.

It was proposed that BidAir Cargo should procure the network contracted “as a service” with a “cost of access” as opposed to a “cost of ownership” financial arrangement.

The project team agreed that:

An immediate intervention was required (the business was restructured, and network contingency needed to be found) while taking a longer term strategic positioning view and future network needs into account. The whole network, including remote working (RAS) to service the work force under lock-down load etc, were to be delivered as a “No Compromise On Security” basis.

The whole administration and visibility of the Network needed to be delivered with very strong password, certificates, and strict access controls.

A complete ‘rip up and replace” of the existing legacy network onto the new Software Defined Dedicated Network As a Service (BidAir Cargo’s very own and not a “shared network service” ) was agreed to be appropriate while maintaining working operations with minimal disruption to the business.  All hardware components and network links are discreet and dedicated to BidAir Cargo and none are shared with any other customers other than the Public Internet itself.

The characteristics of the new network are defined as:

Software Defined:

Maximum availability;

Diverse links (Fibre + LTE-A) for automatic fail-over, traffic steering etc.

Maximum Security;

End to End Data Encryption for the applications

Auto and Scheduled Updating Next Generation on-premises Firewalls at all sites for inter alia POPIA compliance.

Multi Factor Authenticated Secured and Data Encrypted Remote Access

Split tunnelled alternate access to the Internet and internal BidAir Cargo applications

Maximum Data Content Control (including layer 7 visibility of applications and Internet session details whether encrypted or not (SSL/TLS inspection and intervention).

Strategic concentration of the remote branch sites via secure encrypted VPN tunnels into the Data Centre

Disaster Recovery Friendly Design.

Domain Name Services to be overhauled to accommodate link level fail-over requirements and disaster recovery automation.

3rd Party Accommodation and Interaction.

Data backups to BidAir Cargo’s partner/s needed to be accommodated while ensuring that tight security through the interconnections were of the highest level.

Standards Compliance

The Network shall be able to interconnect on all reasonable levels with diverse service providers with through industry compliant standards of the latest generations and be backward compatible with legacy systems. The Network shall be “extensible” to accommodate new techniques in the ICT industry including cloud services.

The Network shall respect the Sovereignty of the Republic of South Africa continuously.

The Implementation

The team planned the network rearrangements together through close collaboration via responsive virtual meetings and achieved the successful roll out, in spite of the Covid limitations, on time to match Mr Goosen’s milestone timelines.

BidAir Cargo personnel assisted with installation activities wherever possible for the purpose of being involved as part of the training and also to contain unnecessary costs.

BidAir Cargo is currently able to Co-Operate the network now and has full visibility of the network and access to diagnostics and reports on a level, including detail, unheard of in the industry to date. Speed was also increased in excess of 10 times the original.

The changes that were realised were actually of a “Herculean” effort by all the participants.  The changes were far reaching and fully support BidAir Cargo’s business, achieved substantial efficiency gains and a far deeper understanding of the value of a well designed, well maintained and valuable network service as a strategic asset to BidAir Cargo.

5th Mountain Networks has done numerous network rearrangements but consider this the most satisfying so far as the BidAir Team was at all times competent, patient, professional and took on an attitude of trust and openness to learn, that lead to success that is built on mutual respect.

BidAir Cargo now has a “Living Network” that it procured as a Service that it can be proud of.

5th Mountain Networks has a valuable and important client that we are proud of.