Brand-Rex is in the driving seat at Auto Trader’s new Manchester headquarters.

A familiar name for anyone buying and selling motor vehicles in the UK, Auto Trader’s origins go back to 1977 with the publication of Thames Valley Trader.  After many successful years as a hard copy magazine, in June 2013 the final editions of the printed version were published, with the company deciding to concentrate on its online business.  Now, every month, over 11.5 million unique users employ Auto Trader to carry out in excess of 140 million searches of more than 400,000 new and used vehicles across mobile, tablet and desktop devices.

As part of the company’s growth strategy, over 500 Auto Trader employees moved into a three-storey state-of- the-art office in Manchester’s prestigious First Street.  Having previously been in seven locations across Salford Quays, Warrington, Chester and Newton-le-Willows, Auto Trader’s new 60,000 square-feet office provides excellent working conditions for employees to collaborate easily and flexibly.

First Street is one of Manchester’s most important sustainable development and regeneration projects and has quickly become a highly desirable business location.  It has been designed to strike a careful balance between technology and simplicity, while adopting intelligent features that offer efficiency, flexibility and productivity, as well as low occupational costs.

For Auto Trader’s data centre manager, Paul Stephenson, the move to these new headquarters represented an opportunity to install a high quality network infrastructure. He comments, “IT plays a vital role in our operation so I wanted a cutting edge cabling system that could offer the ultimate in future-proofing, and would be capable of supporting network speeds of 10 Gigabit Ethernet.  After carrying out an extensive evaluation process with our chosen installation partner, Express Data, the 10GPlus solution from Brand-Rex ticked all the boxes.”

Leeds-based Express Data has worked with Auto Trader for many years and was contracted to specify, design, supply and the new network infrastructure.

The company’s project manager, Darren Welsh, explains:

“As a Brand-Rex Approved Partner, we’ve always been impressed with its superb manufacturing standards, industry leading green credentials and the fact that its cable is so easy to work with.  A shielded 10GPlus solution for the horizontal, and premises distribution cables (PDC) from the company’s FibrePlus portfolio for the backbone, combined to meet Paul’s exact brief.”

One of the key criteria that had to be met was the ability of the cabling to not just meet Category 6A/Class EA performance standards, but to exceed them.  Craig Urmston, channel manager at Brand-Rex, states:

10GPlus is a 3P approved cabling system that has been rigorously tested under strict conditions.  It therefore has unrivalled levels of certification and is manufactured in accordance with ISO 14001 and ISO 9001:2008.”

A shielded cabling solution was chosen, as it provides an added layer of protection against electromagnetic interference (EMI) and ensures performance.  Not only does it stop interference into other cables and devices, it also reduces interference within the data transmission of the cable itself.  Meanwhile, for the fibre optic cable backbone, OM3 FibrePlus PDC offered the most robust and resilient solution.

Work started on-site in March 2014 and over 1,600 Category 6A outlets, utilising 54 miles of cable, were installed over the following three months.  These were linked the to a main data centre, which is complemented by two separate communications rooms on each of the other floors.

Brand-Rex 1U 24 port angled Snap-In-Jack patch panels helped streamline the installation process.  These panels facilitated cord routing directly into the rack’s vertical side management, thus rendering horizontal cable managers redundant.  The increased rack density not only saved valuable space but also eased bending stresses on the patch cord.  10GPlus Shielded Tool-free Snap-in-Jacks were used in conjunction with the panels and offered fast, intuitive and easy termination.

In order to create a unique and visually stimulating working environment that represents the nature of its business, Auto Trader decided to lift, via a crane, four vintage cars and two vans into the building.  This presented Express Data with an interesting challenge, as Darren Welsh explains:

“The vehicles all look great and provide a real talking point as you enter the offices.  However, they aren’t just for decoration; the Volkswagen Camper Van, for example, is a fully functioning meeting room that needed to be integrated into the network.”

With Auto Trader’s new headquarters now fully operational, Express Data and Brand-Rex have turned their attention to configuring a new network infrastructure for the company’s London office in St Pancras.