Six Eight Systems is a limited company offering contract and consultancy services. We specialise in all elements of network infrastructure covering data, voice, wireless, security, building services, data centre and network management tools.
Where we work
We are based near Stirling in Scotland, and usually work with clients in the central belt – Edinburgh, Stirling and Glasgow. Short term travel throughout the UK is fairly normal too.
What we do
Our primary function is design and architecture, working mainly in the financial services industry. Depending on the engagement, we may provide designs, standards documentation, build and test documents and other associated artefacts. We don’t generally deal with commercial engagements, and we don’t re-sell equipment, so tend to work with organisations that have a procurement facility in-house. We would be happy to work with you to identify a suitable reseller or partner if required.
Why are you called Six Eight Systems?
When setting up a company, it’s always a good idea to pick a name that is both relevant and memorable. In this case, the company director stands at six feet, eight inches tall. Hence, Six Eight systems!
As systems and platforms within an infrastructure become more complex and interdependent, the number of possible interactions rapidly becomes unmanageable. This places a huge burden on the shoulders of the operational team or teams, and almost inevitably leads towards a degraded service, either through poor performance, inefficient use of capital, or downtime.
The role of an architect is fairly complicated and difficult to define, but essentially it comprises three main aims:
– Define and promote the use of standards and templates
– Maintain oversight at a programme level to ensure that the right decisions are being made for your business
– Engage with business and technical teams to promote and progress various designs
Consider a typical enterprise network. As a general rule, these have grown in an almost organic fashion, with new capabilities being added by different engineers since it was first commissioned. Various different factors will come into play – available budget, available products and time pressures to name but a few. As such, there are likely to be many different models of hardware, each running different versions of software, and all deployed in subtly different ways. The role of an architect is to help the engineering teams to avoid that situation, helping to define standards and deployment patterns that allows a smaller footprint while still giving the operational teams the flexibility to deploy equipment as required.
In addition, the architecture function has oversight of all of the programmes of work being undertaken, and the ability to spot and influence decisions based on requirements. For example, a project deploying a pair of firewalls sized for their requirement may not have visibility of another project that has a similar requirement – and specifying more capable firewalls initially will yield a cost-saving to the organisation at a later date.
Ultimately, an infrastructure with architectural oversight will be more reliable and require far less effort to maintain.
“The goal of a designer is to listen, observe, understand, sympathize, empathize, synthesize and glean insight that enables him or her to make the invisible visible.” Hillman Curtis (1961 – 2012)
This quote describes our design philosophy beautifully.
It is fairly well understood that the most important part of any design process is to engage with the customer and spend some time learning about their requirements. We believe that this goes beyond the scope of the design. Developing relationships with key individuals within their organisation helps to refine and improve a design and ultimately leads to a higher quality outcome for the client.
We have a proven track record of producing secure, scalable, high performance infrastructure designs using a wide range of hardware and software components covering everything from small branch office networks to enterprise data centres.
Our unique combination of established industry contacts, high quality documentation, a creative and innovative approach and a genuine desire to see our work directly contribute towards the success of our customers underpins our business.
From rogue states to ransomware, in today’s world the importance of world-class cyber-security is hard to underestimate.
Barely a week passes without the news of yet another business suffering the effects of a breach, and the implications can be severe. Legal action from the regulators could result in a significant fine, but the reputational damage to your organisation could have even more far reaching consequences.
The good news is that there are many tools and technologies that can be combined into a formidable defence-in-depth posture, which will give your business the best chance of surviving an attack. From user awareness training to a hardened perimeter and beyond – we can help you define a pragmatic and flexible security strategy that will suit your business as well as your budget.
The core skill which underpins every element of our portfolio is a solid foundation in network engineering. The ability to take a design and translate that into a workable implementation while maintaining service is fundamental, and we have almost two decades of experience of providing that service across a wide range of platforms and technologies.
In addition to implementation and project delivery, we also have a proven track record in working closely with existing teams to help to diagnose and remediate issues and faults on existing network platforms.
5, Six, 7, Eight: Our Company
We have a broad range of contacts throughout the industry, and are able to bring years of experience and expertise together with those contacts to help your business succeed.
Designs Produced in 2018
Core Technologies Deployed
Project Value 2017/18
One area that is often overlooked is the actual traffic flowing through your network. It’s easy to spend tens of thousands of pounds on security and troubleshooting tools, but without visibility of your traffic, these can only offer limited value. The traditional approach of using a mirrored port – otherwise known as a SPAN session – can add a significant overhead to the control plane of your switches, as every packet needs to be replicated in software. With ten gigabit now a well established standard and with forty and hundred gigabit connections available, ports can easily become oversubscribed, with a subsequent reduction in the quality of the data presented to your monitoring tools.
Meraki from Cisco is one of the most exciting and fast-growing products within their portfolio. Easy to administer, quick to set up, cloud managed, and with a wealth of existing capabilities that are regularly enhanced, it’s little wonder that this product range has generated so much interest. We have worked extensively with the Meraki range, and would welcome the opportunity to explore how much value it can add to your business.
From network segmentation to perimeter security, there are a wealth of security products available. We believe that a good design is, fundamentally, a secure design.
We have extensive knowledge of the firewall ecosystems from Checkpoint Security Technologies and Palo Alto Networks, and regularly work with appliances from both vendors.
In addition, we also work with other security technologies like IDS/IPS, malware sandboxing, proxies and DDoS protection.
Maintaining visibility and control of your infrastructure is fundamental to the provision of a stable service. Whether identifying potential hot-spots before they become service-impacting to helping you plan your budget to cope with trended growth, the better you know your network, the better it will perform. We have experience of a wide range of network management tools and have worked with a number of established brands in the industry, and we are happy to provide guidance and recommendations to help make sure you get the most out of your investment.
The ultimate aim of any design or project is to provide new or enhanced services to your business. A deployment that causes downtime or causes a degraded service fundamentally fails to achieve that aim, regardless of the end-state. We are fully conversant with the ITIL framework and used to working closely with the functions within a service management portfolio, delivering changes with minimal impact to your day to day operation.
Routing and switching are the bread and butter of what we do. We have extensive experience and knowledge of products from Cisco Systems across the Catalyst and Nexus product ranges as well as routing platforms such as ASR and ISR routers.
We have also deployed equipment from Arista Networks with a high degree of success.
Firewall Performance Testing
Use synthetic testing to establish the real-world capabilities of a PoC candidate firewall.
Produce a proposal for a secure, highly available campus network for a new office building covering ten floors and supporting in excess of two thousand users and up to five hundred guests using wired and wireless technologies.
A household-name financial services organisation was looking to commission a new data centre for their operations in the Asia Pacific region, into which a large amount of regional IT assets could be consolidated.