BT rings online changes with WAN optimisation tool

Telecoms operator BT has switched on WAN optimisation software from Blue Coat to control its internal security and internet speed, as it opens the way to social networking, webmail and instant messenger programs for its 106,000 employees.

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Telecoms operator BT has switched on WAN optimisation software from Blue Coat to control its internal security and internet speed, as it opens the way to social networking, webmail and instant messenger programs for its 106,000 employees.

BT is using Blue Coat ProxySG software to manage web usage, accelerate content, reduce bandwidth consumption and protect against malware.

Ray Stanton, head of business continuity, security and governance at BT, told Computerworld UK that the 18-month project was crucial to cope with the new traffic and protect BT’s network. The company estimates that staff currently make 135 million requests to external websites every day, compared with 27 million just two years ago.

With WAN optimisation in place, BT can now allow its employees to access Facebook and MySpace, as well as webmail sites such as Hotmail and Yahoo Mail, and instant messenger programs - a change that is also being made by many other UK businesses.

“We wanted flexibility as we innovate as a company,” said Stanton. “We were listening to the demands and behaviour of our employees and needed to optimise the network as we changed. We’ve had a 7% increase in bandwidth requirements in the last 12 months because of the nature of the traffic.”

The Blue Coat software removes attachments, prevents automatic downloads of executable software and scans for viruses or other malicious code. It also allows access rules to be set for specific types of user and specific sites, content or applications.

BT line managers now have dashboard information on how long employees are spending on the sites, and where they are going. “They can quickly see the top 10 sites people are going to, and how long they are spending there, as well as more detailed information on usage,” Stanton said. “It’s a lot easier and managers require less time to keep an eye on things.”

The next step, Stanton said, was to use the software to accelerate important web-based applications across its WAN, including an online human resources platform that could be accessed in branch offices.

Deployment of the platform was completed at the end of last year. In the next phase of the roll-out, BT will implement the software in branches around the world.

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