construction workers

DE-CIX case study

DE-CIX slashes network latency to expedite a company’s connectivity

A far-flung workforce and a network stretched thin

Pandemic-related remote work situations were putting a strain on a construction company’s network. With thousands of employees across Europe using firewalls and VPNs, work speed began to suffer.

Improvements in speed and reliability

The company’s service provider recommended a relatively new networking service co-developed by Microsoft and DE-CIX called Azure Peering Services that optimizes connectivity, increases reliability, and provides faster speed through reduced latency.

Speed and security for the future

Since the implementation of Azure Peering Services, the company reports employee satisfaction with their network has noticeably increased, and they’ve enjoyed a reduction in connection errors as well as improved security.

Time is money. Let’s get them up to speed. We need to fast-track this! The business world runs on speed and agility, and nowhere is that truer than for the technology sector. Frankfurt-based DE-CIX knows how quickly internet users today want their traffic to ping around the globe. As the operators of the world’s leading interconnection platform, they wrangle over 10 TB of data every second during peak traffic times. With thousands of connected networks in major metro areas in almost a dozen countries, DE-CIX is entrusted with the security and, yes, velocity of digital information worldwide.

But there are only so many ways a company can impact the speed of the internet, such as limiting the number of users online at the time, maintaining a secure connection free from viruses, or increasing allocated bandwidth to allow more data to be sent at once. These actions, while allowing for faster downloads and uninterrupted connections, don’t increase the actual speed of the data transfer. As DE-CIX well knows, to do that you need to reduce latency.

A network stretched thin

The COVID-19 pandemic separated millions of workers from their offices and worksites and put a strain on network connections everywhere. German construction company HOCHTIEF was no different, facing a situation where they needed to send employees home to keep them safe while doing what it could to enable these employees to work remotely while addressing challenges with performance disruption of their IT systems.

Their switch to Microsoft 365 two years earlier proved essential in keeping up communication between the far-flung staff, but their wide-area network was quickly stretched to its limit with 3,200 users across 100 locations around Europe suddenly working from their homes.

In addition to physical distance, the VPN tunnel and firewall each home user had installed on their machines meant additional hops along the network. These issues compounded to nibble away at HOCHTIEF’s employees’ ability to quickly access the tools they needed to do their jobs while straining the user experience for their collaboration tools.

Enter the latency hunters.

“There's a big difference between latency and bandwidth. If you have super fantastic bandwidth with a bad latency, the experience users expect just isn’t there.”

— Harald Kriener, Director of Business Development, Cloud Services, DE-CIX

Improvements in speed and reliability

The thing about internet connection speed, is that attention is only paid to it when it’s slower than expected. So, when HOCHTIEF discovered a noticeable drop-off when transitioning from working in the office to working remotely—caused by the necessary security precautions and added miles data had to travel—they immediately sought a solution. Their service provider, ecotel, recommended a relatively new networking service co-developed by Microsoft and DE-CIX called Azure Peering Services (MAPS) that optimizes connectivity, increases reliability, and provides faster speed through reduced latency.

“There's a big difference between latency and bandwidth,” said Harald Kriener, DE-CIX’s Director of Business Development, Cloud Services. “If you have super fantastic bandwidth with a bad latency, the experience users expect just isn’t there.”

With MAPS, Kriener said, the number of hops between HOCHTIEF’s infrastructure and Microsoft’s servers shrank, as did the latency experienced by employees. Called Multi-Cloud-Connect Service by ecotel, connection time to Microsoft Teams from HOCHTIEF headquarters plummeted from 53 to 5 milliseconds.

“I call our technicians the latency hunters,” Kriener said, “because they're really trying to find every millisecond which can be optimized. … To increase data speed using Office 365 Teams, working together on documents and contracts, the best latency you can get is if you use Microsoft Azure Peering Services.”

Speed and security for the future

Since the implementation of Azure Peering Services, HOCHTIEF says employee satisfaction with their network has noticeably increased, and they’ve enjoyed a reduction in connection errors.

"Our employees on the construction sites, at our office locations, and working from home simply have to be able to do their jobs,” said Dirk Steffen, Head of Corporate IT at HOCHTIEF. "And with the Microsoft Azure Peering Service, this now works very well. We are very happy that our Microsoft implementation partner ecotel did such a great support during the planning and implementation of the dedicated direct peering connection via their Datacenter in Frankfurt/Main.

I would like to thank them for sharing their knowledge and competence to design the best solution for our needs together with the latency hunters from DE-CIX.”

In addition to reduced latency, the Microsoft Office 365 Teams connections are now isolated from the perils of the public internet, resulting in notably improved security on top of the existing Managed VPN and firewall services. Thanks to the efforts of DE-CIX, together with ecotel and Microsoft, construction teams at HOCHTIEF can collaborate on projects, negotiate contracts, and review forms almost simultaneously and free from security concerns.

At the end of the day, Kriener believes it’s the steep drop in latency that he considers the project’s greatest success.

“It makes a real difference if you need to wait every time, seconds and seconds, Kriener said. With better speed through Microsoft Azure Peering Services, “they really saw that there is a huge improvement.”

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