AREP, a global subsidiary of French railway operator SNCF, was created to design and build railway stations. Today it has leveraged that expertise to develop modern spaces for all types of areas where people meet, linger, or pass through. AREP’s expertise spans all aspects of urban architecture, including buildings, street furniture, signage, waiting areas, and more. Its experts work on engineering and construction projects for railway stations, public spaces and other hubs, offices, hotels, housing, shopping centres, and technical facilities. The firm has established itself as a key player in the transformation of modern cities. Building on its success at home, the company recently began expanding into China, the Middle East, and Russia. It translated its website from French into Chinese and Russian; customers in the Middle East use its English version. However – like many multinationals before it – the firm quickly realised that simply translating its website into Chinese is not enough to have a reliable online presence in that country. Some of its website pages were blocked by the firewall that the Chinese government threw up to keep out content from the west. AREP therefore began looking for a technology partner that could ensure a glitch-free website across the Middle Kingdom.
AREP commissioned consulting firm 404.fr to review its online presence and select the best partner to provide technology and recommendations for improving its Chinese website. After performing market research, 404.fr’s consultants selected CDNetworks, thanks in large part to its numerous points of presence in China.
“AREP wanted a reliable website in China so that Chinese companies could see the many services and targeted expertise it had to offer. And it wanted that website up fast. The firm needed an effective, dependable partner to support its Chinese expansion. CDNetworks was high on our list, since it has a good reputation and is one of the market leaders. After comparing several bids, we decided that CDNetworks was the best equipped to meet AREP’s needs in China,” said Laurent Varennes, a 404.fr consultant.
CDNetworks purchased the Bei’an ICP license for AREP and quickly got a new system up and running.
“We were impressed by how quickly CDNetworks’ local staff were able cut through the red tape. We put them in touch with our Beijing office and soon got the licenses we needed to operate a website in China,” said Sabine Bazantay, Web Project Manager at AREP’s Communications Department.
After considering several options, AREP and 404.fr decided it would be easiest to accelerate a static website, with neither a server script nor a database, directly in China. CDNetworks then developed a customised solution with a website hosted in France and accelerated in Russia, China, the Middle East, and the rest of the world. Each of the four versions – French, English, Russian, and Chinese – was given its own domain name. Under this system, the content delivery network queries the server in France from points of presence located around the world, so that content is brought as close as possible to users no matter where they are. This arrangement, with the website centralised in France, also has the advantage of allowing AREP’s France-based Communications Department to keep close control of all the company’s content, especially since the system limits the number of people involved.
Whereas AREP’s main problem was with its Chinese website, it nevertheless wanted its pages to load fast and reliably for users across the globe. “It was essential that the performance of our website reflects the high performance of the services we deliver. And thanks to CDNetworks’ content acceleration solution, that’s exactly what we have. No matter where people access our website from, they will have a smooth, responsive navigation experience. That was even an issue for us in France where the server is based, because there we have a database and rich content with a lot of images,” said Sabine Bazantay, Web Project Manager at AREP’s Communications Department.
“Before CDNetworks, we never could have had this level of web performance. The change was immediate. Now AREP can rest assured that its website will display smoothly anywhere in the world. And CDNetworks’ staff were very attentive and pleasant to work with – something highly appreciated in this industry. We were fortunate to have found experts capable of adapting to implementation constraints,” said Mr Varennes.