SME collaboration: Airbus and ITSUS – a successful partnership built on trust

Featured stories - Publication date : 20 April 2021
SME collaboration: Airbus and ITSUS – a successful partnership built on trust

Flexibility, trust and an ability to listen are what ITSUS founder and CEO Dr Shahid Mian considers the foundations of their successful business. And it is through Airbus’ growing network of trusted, innovative SMEs like ITSUS that the space ecosystem in the UK continues to prosper. 

ITSUS is a Cardiff-based ICT specialist, formed in 2008 by communications engineer Shahid and his friend and fellow systems engineer Alex Cousins. “Being an SME can be a significant barrier to entry in the defence industry, because of the nature of the work and sensitivity involved, so delivering a crucial combination of security and efficiency is integral to everything we do,” explains Shahid. “It builds confidence and trust among those whose networks can’t afford to fail. It’s clear that Airbus wants to support SMEs and that’s good for the UK economy and for developing talent in the sector. “We started the business because we saw a niche to provide high value professional services, that were flexible on demand. With Airbus’s support we’ve grown slowly but deliberately to build strength in our team and we are always looking ahead at what we can provide our clients in the future.” 

Technical expertise with innovation at the core

Since its formation, the company has gained a significant reputation for providing technical expertise in the design and development of business-critical communications infrastructure. Innovation within the defence sector is its core strength, and is at the heart of a highly successful partnership with Airbus. That partnership began in 2011 when ITSUS supported the design and development of the global interconnect network (GIN) system – an all IP military network designed to complement the existing portfolio of satellite ground terminals and services, supporting both UK restricted and secret services in parallel. “Airbus needed to migrate live operational services from a legacy network to a next-generation internet protocol (IP) network,” says Shahid. “They realised they could reduce costs, leverage newer technology and build a network that was easier to manage and maintain. That’s where we came in.” 

Shahid believes one of ITSUS’ key strengths is providing flexible expertise – the right people, to the right team at the right time. So, the company’s first step was to provide specialists who could fully grasp the business requirements and how best to meet them through technology. “Once that’s done, you need to design the system,” says Shahid. “Airbus has very talented people in this area so our role here was to provide consultative support to them. The next stage was implementation – building the system, testing and evaluating it, so that Airbus and their stakeholders were confident that the solution was the right one. “It’s about flexibility – listening to demand signals from the organisation, developing skills that match the need and continuously improving.

Validation for SMEs to develop and improve

The company’s approach to complex and sensitive projects like these, and working successfully in partnership with high profile clients like Airbus, has enabled ITSUS to grow in both size and reputation.

 “We have delivered consultancy and support for more than 20 GIN-related projects around the world over a number of years now. Repeat business like this gives us validation and confidence to develop, improve and grow and it’s helped us scale our business. “Ultimately, we are a company of engineers – we love making things that people use, and we are passionate about developing solutions that are going to be relied upon by the end user. “For us, there’s nothing better than receiving positive feedback and hearing that what we have delivered is working perfectly.”

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