Updating technology to maintain a digitised infrastructure allows room for innovation, and Keepmoat Homes is one company that did just this. It needed to improve its wireless communications network and has since benefited from major improvements in communications agility and performance.
Keepmoat Homes is one of the UK’s largest home builders. Established in 1931 and headquartered in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, the company develops up to 4,500 homes across the UK per year, typically utilising brownfield sites to build properties for first time buyers and first-time movers.
The construction company required a scalable, secure, reliable and quick-to-deploy solution to connect up to 100 of the company’s active development sites across the UK to critical line of business systems and data, and to deliver digital content into its customer sales suites.
The company implemented Cradlepoint’s cloud-based NetCloud Service – in conjunction with IBR/AER series LTE Edge routers, to provide fully managed, reliable, high performance and secure connectivity.
Unlike traditional network solutions, Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service is an all-in-one subscription service which allows customers to build, deploy and manage a 4G LTE Edge network.
Today, Keepmoat deploys a Cradlepoint-powered wireless network at every new development. Since doing so, the company has benefited from major improvements in communications agility and performance and is also able to provide a more robust and consistent service to its workforce.
As a market-leading home builder, Keepmoat can have in excess of 100 sites in operation at any one time, nationwide. Providing each site with reliable data communications infrastructure to connect with key business systems and data is an important element of day-to-day operations for the business.
The challenge Keepmoat faced was that many of its sites did not have fixed-line communications infrastructure available when development work commenced. Putting this connectivity in place was time consuming and expensive, often requiring bespoke cabling to be installed by the telecommunications providers beforehand.
Keepmoat wanted a solution that would provide reliable, high performance and secure connectivity for every site, from day one of its opening. The technology needed to support communication between the sales and construction offices at each development and the rest of the company network.
When Andy Walton, Head of Technology and Cybersecurity, joined the business in 2016, one of his immediate priorities was to develop a solution that enabled the business to mobilise new locations quickly, consistently and securely.
Having developed a similar solution in a previous organisation, he identified that 4G cellular technology could provide the ideal blend of performance, security and value.
Upon evaluating several potential technology vendors, Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service was purchased and developed into a fully functioning proof of concept very quickly.
This enabled Keepmoat to connect a remote location with central IT systems and data via a cellular provider and a secure VPN.
“Cradlepoint’s technology offers a really strong blend of performance and ease of use,” said Walton. “The NetCloud Service makes it quick and easy to configure, deploy and manage the cloud-controlled wireless Edge routers, which was a very important consideration for the overall solution.”
Following the successful proof of concept, Keepmoat launched the project internally, naming it ‘Rapid Site’ and began launching Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service with the IBR1100 wireless Edge routers into site locations using its own field engineering team. “We really liked the rugged design of the routers – unlike lots of other hardware we use elsewhere, Cradlepoint’s is well constructed and ideally suited to the mixed environmental conditions of a construction site,” said Walton.
After part of the business was sold in 2017, the decision was made to outsource the installation and management of the Rapid Site solution to a managed service partner, which now undertakes the installation on behalf of Keepmoat, based on a pre-agreed deployment standard.
“The NetCloud Services gave us the connectivity options and performance we needed, including both wireless and wired access for our equipment. It also allowed us to deliver really important capabilities to our remote locations, such as the ability to take secure, PCI-DSS-compliant payments in each sales office,” said Walton.
Each site now connects with the corporate network via a secure VPN, natively integrating with Cisco’s Umbrella Cloud Enterprise Network Security solution to provide robust cybersecurity protection.
More recently, Keepmoat has upgraded all of its endpoints to Cradlepoint’s AER2200 wireless Edge solution – a more powerful technology that has also removed the need for an Ethernet switch to be deployed at each location.
Keepmoat now operates a fully integrated, high performance and secure wireless connectivity solution for its entire business. It has moved from a situation where connectivity was largely unavailable at the start of a build and then slow and expensive to install, to being fully in control of its own connectivity strategy. As the business continues to move to a digitally-driven customer sales experience, the strong foundations provided by Cradlepoint technology make this possible.
“As each site moves off the drawing-board and into development, we can have full connectivity in place from day one and that’s a major improvement over our previous situation,” said Walton.
Traffic is routed directly into to the core of Keepmoat’s managed Wide Area Network, enabling seamless business critical communications. Using Cradlepoint’s NetCloud management portal – part of the NetCloud Service – gives Keepmoat and its managed service partner full visibility and control over the entire wireless solution.
“We’re delighted with the flexibility, performance and value for money that the Cradlepoint solution provides,” said Walton. “We’ve transformed the ability of the business to interact with key teams at each site – the sales team, for example, are able to provide a much better experience for customers, take payments and even make use of exciting technologies such as digital signage and interactive content.”
Looking to the future, Keepmoat is planning a pathway to 5G connectivity for its sites, which will further improve infrastructure performance and allow the company to deliver a better, more dynamic digital experience for customers.