nternet as a key enabler versus an inhibitor is something The Sentinel Retirement Fund knew only too well prior to approaching Zinia, a business Internet telecoms service provider.
Faced with regular Internet downtime, sometimes for up to three days, as well as frustration over wasting time being kept on hold when logging calls or trying to sort issues out with their provider, the retirement fund enlisted the help of Zinia to get their Head Office and Client Service Centres' connectivity issues sorted.
The Sentinel Retirement Fund is one of the largest self-administered, defined-contribution, umbrella pension funds in South Africa. Since 2016 it actively manages R85 billion and they could not afford to have any downtime.
"Slow, costly Internet that is not up consistently was a massive frustration for us," says Philip Honiball, IT Support services at Sentinel. "We are reliant on the Internet for e-mail and communications, and our Client Service Centres in Welkom, Klerksdorp, Carletonville and Witbank have to use the Internet to connect with us to have access to the business' internal critical systems."
Solving the issues required a solution that would guarantee uptime and provide Sentinel with redundancy in case of connectivity interruptions, thereby providing the Retirement Fund with "always on" Internet.
Zinia, who has provided Sentinel with Internet services since taking over in 2013, initially solved the fund's connectivity issues by moving Sentinel from a 1 Mbps and 2 Mbps Diginet line to two fibre links; one primary link at 20 Mbps and one at 10 Mbps for redundancy. The solution at the time provided 10 times the speed they had experienced previously, with a reliable failover to the second fibre line, and in addition was far more affordable than their previous provider.
As the need for more bandwidth and speeds increased, Zinia upgraded Sentinel to a 200 Mbps line and the company is in the process of upgrading to 500 Mbps. With Zinia's Premium Internet service Sentinel is assured of dedicated 1:1 connections, 99% uptime SLA and the assurance that should their service be interrupted they can easily switch over to their secondary Fibre line.
For the Client Service Centres, Zinia implemented a Viprinet VPN solution which links all the branches to the Sentinel Head Office via SIM cards, effectively creating a tunnel back to head office so they could access the Internet.
"The solutions Zinia have provided us with over the years are much faster, affordable and have saved us lots of frustration," says Honiball. "We haven't had any serious downtime or issues with Internet connectivity and the Zinia call centre is very helpful and we get assisted immediately. We were very impressed by the support and how quick the setup with the VPN was done once the hardware was received."
"Zinia's call centre stands out compared to our previous provider. The frustration of logging a call or ticket for problems used to be a nightmare. Zinia's staff are really friendly and helpful - they usually know about the issue before we phone to report something."
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