Celtic FC wins with Cisco

One of Scotland's biggest football teams has used Cisco technology to help run the club.

Celtic Football Club

CASE STUDY: Celtic FC turned to Cisco when it needed to replace its aging communications system - and now saves 10,000 a year.

Company background

Celtic Football Club was founded in 1888 and is a renowned club in both Scotland and globally. Based in the east end of Glasgow, the team has won the Scottish League 41 times, the Scottish Cup 34 times and was the first British club to win the European Championship.

Situation

As well as the Club's stadium, Celtic Park, which has a capacity of over 60,000, the 500 members of staff have to run the training ground and 14 retail outlets. The venue is also hired out to businesses and organisations for events and conferences.

The communications system that the club was using was old, with websites taking to long to load and the telephone connections often crashing. This became very expensive to keep extending and the club took the decision to renew the entire infrastructure, creating a single integrated one for all data at the club as well as having the capability of delivering additional services in the future.

David Howell, IT manager at Celtic FC, said: "Cisco is a brand I trust and one I know well, and when we looked at other vendors we just felt that Cisco offers better value for money and a better investment for the long term. We were about to embark on quite a major transitional process of changing our data and communications infrastructure and we wanted to go with something that we felt rock solid about."

Solution

Celtic FC deployed a Cisco Unified Communications system implemented by BT iNet - a Cisco Gold Partner - at Celtic Park and its training centre at Lennoxtown - around 12 miles away. Both sites have Local Area Networks (LANs) which are then connected together via a local Ethernet Service. It then chose to use186 Cisco Unified IP phones across both locations, including Cisco Unity which enables voicemail and other messages to pop up in a users inbox.

This solution pulls together both email and telephony supporting the business and admin side of things.

From a safety side of things, the club has also started to use Cisco's Self-Defending Network strategy which integrates Cisco and other vendor security products to create an integrated security solution. It has also deployed a Cisco firewall as well as the ability to set up virtual private networks for third parties to access the system for ticket or retail purchases.

"The Cisco network is core to what we do at Celtic and that is ensuring everything behind the scenes is operating effectively so that players can go out on the pitch and do their job," Howell said.

"Without a good, robust network everything else is really irrelevant because all your servers, your systems, your ability to take money at the turnstiles, and services for players can't happen without a good network."

"It also ensures we have better business productivity as staff aren't sitting around waiting for an overloaded network or phone system which is what used to happen because of the reliability and high availability of the Cisco infrastructure."

Benefits

The Cisco solution has enhanced services for both players at the club and their support staff.

As well as better communications between the club and training ground for coaching staff, there has been significant financial savings. The unified system enabled the club to remove redundant phone lines which in turn saved them more than 10,000 a year.

Also, on an efficiency level, seemingly simple operations such as moving staff members to different desks and setting up their phone now takes a matter of minutes rather than hours.

"We only have a small IT team and functions like phone adds, moves, and changes used to take a lot of effort and so saving time here is a huge benefit to us," he said. "Instead of fire fighting problems all the time, this kind of saving means we can focus on more useful and valuable activities that contribute to improving services and supporting business operations."

"Now everything appears as one and it is a much nicer and tidier way of working. It's saving quite a lot and makes small everyday activities much easier," Howell added.

The club plans to extend the system out further to cover its retail outlets in the future and is considering installing wireless networks via Cisco as well.

"The beauty of the Cisco technology is its scalability and the freedom it gives you to deliver a whole host of new services without major upheaval to the core infrastructure," Howell concluded.

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