Stena Line, one of the world’s largest ferry operators
Stena Line is one of the world’s leading ferry operators and operates 40 ships across more than 20 routes in Europe. The group is also expanding its presence in Asia and other areas. A robust, fast and secure network is mission critical to enabling the company to operate efficiently, while providing best in class customer care.
“Global Cloud Xchange has impressed us over the entirety of our relationship with their versatility in network design and we felt confident the high levels of service assurance they provide would answer all the legal requirements. The final solution surpassed our expectations on both fronts and we have enjoyed considerable cost savings over the more staff intensive alternatives!”
Göran Nystedt, CIO, Stena Line
How Does Stena Line Benefit?
- A customized “high availability” network designed to minimize potentially catastrophic outages means passengers and freight are not left stranded if ferries are unable to sail
- Stena Line can meet stringent mandatory security legislation because network-based centralized CCTV monitoring is possible over a highly reliable network
- Stena Line are free to enter new route markets knowing network connectivity will not be a barrier thanks to the platform’s in-built flexibility
GCX Product & Services
Stena is one of the largest ferry companies in the world with a fleet of 35 vessels operating over a network of 20 routes in Scandinavia, the Baltics, the North Sea and the Irish Sea. Each year the company transports more than 7 million passengers, 1.6 million cars and 2 million freight units. In addition, Stena Line also owns and operates five ports and 2 of the largest ferry ships in the world with some vessels capable of transporting 230 cars and more than 1,200 passengers each.
Connecting Europe for a Sustainable Future
Stena Line’s Challenges
Stena Line’s success is measured by their ability to safely transport business-people, holiday makers and road freight (including time-sensitive goods like refrigerated food, cut flowers and even livestock) to their destinations, on time.
And Stena’s IT services team’s task is clear. They must provide a stable service via a number of objectives which range from maximizing operational efficiency, to optimizing flexibility.
For example, Stena Line use real-time reservation and check-in systems for both freight and passengers which must run 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. If for any reason, a Stena Line ferry is not able to sail according to its very tight schedule, the ripple effect on passengers, freight, and commerce can be massive.
Sailing delays can be very costly. If network connectivity at a port used by Stena operates is lost, or if the ship-to-shore communications do not work, ferry boarding operations have to stop and ships cannot sail. This in turn can have severe consequences. Port Authorities, Customs and the Police must attend in numbers to manage everything from security and customs, to traffic and logistics with car parks, quaysides and even motorways jamming up with waiting vehicles.
But that’s not all. Compliance legislation relating to Port security now means Stena Line themselves can be held more directly responsible for security breaches at several of their European locations. This legislation is especially stringent on routes from mainland Europe into the UK and Scandinavia.
The network which supports Stena’s operations is therefore simply business-critical.
A Communications Platform to Keep Europe Sailing
Global Cloud Xchange (“GCX”) provides Stena Line with a hyper-critical managed network connecting 40 or so ports and ferry terminals in 8 countries. In turn, Stena Line depends on this network to ensure vessels in port can be loaded, sailed and unloaded according to finely-balanced schedules. And this must all happen within very strict security and customs regimes.
Thanks to the GCX network, Stena Line also streams real-time CCTV security camera footage from all locations to a central monitoring facility. This critical application further helps Stena meet its security compliance requirements. What’s more, the GCX network also supports critical “ship-to-shore” communication which is required to sync passenger and freight data prior to a ferry departing or arriving at a port.
The network uses GCX’s Hybrid WAN underlay and is designed to provide the high levels of site availability demanded by Stena. A combination of MPLS and Internet connections from a variety of underlying infrastructure providers, are delivered, managed and assured end-to-end by GCX.
Network connectivity is mainly through dual, high bandwidth MPLS circuits with separate providers used to minimize risk. Where dual MPLS circuits are not used, MPLS circuits are “backed-up” by Internet connections with traffic fully encrypted, and integrated with GCX’s core network in London and Frankfurt.
GCX’s customer portal provides transparency of service delivery, fault management and network performance, giving Stena Line the ability to prioritise application usage and manage costs.
“GCX has impressed us over the entirety of our relationship with their versatility in network design...The final solution surpassed our expectations."
GÖRAN NYSTEDT, CIO, STENA LINE
Benefits to Stena
- Thanks to GCX’s meticulous attention to detail in designing a network for “high availability” and business continuity, network outages which affect ferry sailings have been minimal
- The ability for Stena to monitor security from a central location over the GCX-provided WAN has delivered savings estimated to be more than €25m
- Stena is able to remain fully compliant with all local security legislation in all markets
- Stena benefits from improved visibility on network usage, from a single, centralised point of management
- GCX’s “best-of-both-worlds” approach to network infrastructure selection has significantly reduced Stena’s vendor-management burden
- Stena gains access to both the lowest infrastructure prices available in any local national market, and new network offerings as they become available
- Stena’s network is tailor-made to meet their specific needs, with variable levels of resilience, reliability and service support dependent upon individual site requirements
Features of GCX Solution
GCX provides Stena Line with a highly reliable communications platform that minimizes outages and maximises Stena Lines’ customer experience:
- Connects around 40 ports, ferry terminals and Stena Line locations across Europe to an integrated high-performance backbone network
- The bespoke design uses connectivity from best-of-breed local and regional carriers to meet site-specific requirements
- Underlying Hybrid WAN underlay infrastructure selected according to individual site needs
- High-performance MPLS
- Low-cost Internet with IPSec encryption
The solution is backed by an expert managed service
- Single point of contact for all network and security-related services
- End-to-end SLA covering all services
- Fully consolidated billing across the network irrespective of the number of underlying carriers
- Network performance transparency provided through O-zone, GCX’s real-time online service delivery performance and reporting portal
- Active ongoing procurement process to continually identify most appropriate technologies and drive down cost