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Case Study: Strategy 1 – Tasmanian Accountants office saved from tearing hair out by activIT systems and activCloud

activCloud logoIn April of 2015 we commenced consulting for Strategy 1, an accounting and financial services provider in East Devonport, Tasmania. Our consulting culminated in an overhaul of their IT infrastructure, by migrating their workload and operations to our activCloud platform. By moving their operations to a central cloud infrastructure they were able to streamline their daily work and have greater flexibility to work from wherever they choose with no loss of performance.

The Client

Kendall and Ben Chandler from Strategy 1, and their team of staff, provide top quality financial management for a range of individuals and companies in construction, retail, engineering and similar industries.

While trying to provide the best service to their clients they were continually frustrated by their existing IT system – which was slow, unreliable and ineffective. To make matters worse the system would grind to a halt once three or more users were accessing it at the same time!

This was having a serious effect on staff productivity and causing ever increasing frustration. activIT systems was engaged to review the IT environment, recommend options to replace their IT infrastructure, and provide them with a solution that would be cost effective while providing scalability and reliable performance.

The Solution

Strategy 1’s existing system was based around the use of a high end workstation repurposed as a multi user system through the use of third party software with central file storage provided by an online file sharing service.

After reviewing their IT environment, we proposed to replace this with the following:

  • Two completely scalable private cloud based servers running within our activCloud platform, one to perform the management of the network and user account management, with the second to be their central application server for staff to work from via Microsoft Remote Desktop.
  • Centrally managed backups to be performed at the data centre level.
  • Reconfiguring and simplifying their local office network to be permanently connected to their cloud network.
  • Implementing central user accounts, printing and file storage from the cloud servers to allow simplification of access for staff while increasing security.

Because their new IT environment was destined for the Cloud, the majority of the migration to the new system was performed without any interruption to Strategy 1 staff. All infrastructure was setup and deployed behind the scenes, with all applications being installed and data being migrated to the new infrastructure before going live.

Strategy 1 experienced minimal interruption during the upgrade

The first interruption required was to allow new network hardware was installed in the Strategy 1 office to facilitate a steady connection to their private cloud network. This involved a loss of internet connectivity for only 40 minutes while equipment was reconfigured and added.

When the systems were ready to test, a test run was organised with key staff to test applications. Once the testing and configuration was complete it was arranged to put the new Cloud system into production.

For the migration there was an short interruption of approximately four hours finalize the migration of their systems to the new Cloud servers, and ensure everything was functioning as expected. During this time we also updated their accounting and line of business software to get them ready for our computerCare preventative maintenance service.

The Outcome

After switching to their new activCloud platform, Strategy 1 have found their IT experience to more fluid and productive. Staff are able to work in a more efficient manner from any location – the office, home, interstate, or overseas – while enjoying hassle free cloud computing.

activIT systems has delivered a flexible, reliable cost effective solution which can be scaled up or down at a moments notice to handle changes in staff and business requirements. The cloud solution also allows them to control costs as they only ever pay for the resources they require.

Most importantly for Kendall and Ben Chandler, the new IT environment ensures that Strategy 1 doesn’t need to worry about IT any more – they can simply get on with their job and business operations.

Do your business profits, productivity, and performance suffer from poor IT? We can help.

If your business faces similar problems to what Strategy 1 did before we met them, please contact us to find out how our solutions will make your business life easier and more productive.

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Case study: Precise Electrical server installation & IT upgrade

In December 2014, we upgraded Precise Electrical’s IT capabilities and functionality by installing a new server, and in the process removing a lot of the workflow inefficiencies and computer related frustrations they were experiencing.

Precise Electrical logoThe Client: Precise Electrical

Precise Electrical provides efficient and reliable electrical inspection, installation and maintenance services to a range of industrial, commercial and domestic clients. While they are experts in their field, they were struggling with IT systems which were more frustrating than they were helpful, beseiged by internet access problems, and deeply concerned about data backup for their business.

Prior to commencing our involvement with them in December 2014, data was shared across many computers in the office by way of a cloud based file sharing application, which lead to on going issues with file version conflicts, people working on the wrong versions of documents, and the upload & download process clogging up the internet on a regular basis. Further concerns were the level of IT security in place, printers disappearing off the network, and an overall lack of control over the IT environment.

With company productivity affected and management frustrated with IT, we came on board to implement an on-premise server that would help Precise Electrical take control over their IT, improve IT security and productivity, and keep all of their important data safe, accessible, and backed up properly.

The Solution

The pre-existing IT environment consisted of a half dozen PC’s and laptops, all operating independently of each other with no cohesion and no control over applications, passwords, or data access.

Our solution comprised of:

  • Deploying a Dell PowerEdge T120 II server, designed as an ideal first server for small offices with its low power usage, low noise emissions, and low overall total cost of ownership.
  • Reconfiguring the network to operate from a Microsoft Windows 2012 R2 domain controller, also providing file storage, print access, security, and management roles.
  • Security enhancements to staff computers, and integration into the new network
  • An Eaton UPS that protects the server and network equipment from power fluctuations and blackouts, safely shutting down the server in the event of a power outage.
  • A backup solution built on QNAP NAS technology that captures backups of the entire server system each night.

As the Precise Electrical administrative staff are constantly using the computers for quotations and scheduling, reliable access to data on the server is critical to a productive day. Our implementation plan was staged to deploye the server environment first, introduce a single desktop computer to the network for troubleshooting and quality assurance, then integrate the remaining desktop systems to the network.

During the installation, there was a small interruption of approximately 40 minutes per computer system to integrate it with the network and test the new settings. At the initial server installation stage, a small 10 minute outage occurred while the server system was configured to take over all network services like DNS and DHCP. The entire time spent on site with Precise Electrical was approximately 8 hours, over two days.

The Outcome

With the project completed within 7 days from commencing work, Precise Electrical were immediately able to take advantage of the new server environment and the benefits it brings to them.

activIT systems has delivered a cost effective server platform and network upgrade that provides a secure and reliable location for Precise Electrical to share files amongst staff, control computer usage, and eliminate the IT problems that originally plagued them.

Following on from the completion of the project in December 2014, we received the following awesome feedback:

As a continually expanding electrical company it is essential that we have excellent communication within the company with an efficient file sharing/access system that can expand and grow as we do.

Prior to the upgrade, files were shared on the “Network” via a modem. Each computer holding their own files but accessible from another station. This led to duplication of files, loss of files and often a search for a file that wasn’t where it was supposed to be.

Our network printer would often refuse to print even though it was visible on the network, and had to be switched on and off constantly to get it to work. We had a backup system in place but it relied on one person backing up the files and also backing up the correct files to a local drive. This was totally inadequate in the event of fire or theft.

After meeting Steve from activIT systems at a networking event and discussing our issues, Steve put together a comprehensive plan to solve our issues, to make the office more efficient and to ensure in the event of a disaster that all our critical information was backed up to a location away from the office. Steve’s obvious passion and knowledge for his job becomes obvious from the moment you speak to him. His staff act in an extremely professional manner and exhibit the same passion for the task as Steve.

The new server was installed with the minimum of fuss, very little down time and we were kept up to date at all stages. I would thoroughly recommend activIT systems to any of my friends/clients and have done. They make IT look easy and took away a headache I didn’t need.

Mike Palmer, Precise Electrical

Could your business benefit by a solution like this?

If your business faces similar problems to what Precise Electrical did, contact us to find out how our solutions will make your business life easier and more productive.

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Sun Block Blinds, IT infrastructure replacement in 2014

In August 2014, we commenced an IT infrastructure replacement for a new client, Sun Block Blinds. Read the case study below.

Sun Block BlindsThe Client: Sun Block Blinds

Upon our appointment of IT service providers for Sun Block Blinds in July 2014, the message from owners Gay and Emile Panossian to us was simple: Replace our aging computer systems, and put in something that we don’t need to worry for many years to come.

Sun Block Blinds manufactures and supplies a variety of blinds, window coverings, and floor coverings at their factory in Malaga, Western Australia. In order for their administrative and sales staff to promptly process the many orders they receive each day from WA’s leading home builders and the public, their IT systems need to be reliable. Any outage or delay from IT means the team in the factory could be standing by idly, waiting for job orders to filter through the system.

They were experiencing problems with MYOB performance, remote access, slow email transmission, slow computer logons, and overall poor reliability from their IT systems.

With unreliable computers, aging IT infrastructure, which was affecting the overall company productivity, it was time to replace the existing IT environment with a solution that Sun Block Blinds could rely on for many years to come.

The Solution

After reviewing the Sun Block Blinds IT environment, activIT systems put forward a proposal to replace not only the existing servers, but the desktop computers that were used by the administrative and sales staff as well.

The solution comprised of:

  • Deploying the activCloud Hosted Exchange email service, to move email systems to the cloud rather than on-premise.
  • Dell PowerEdge R520 server hardware, designed for reliability.
  • Dell Optiplex 3020 desktop systems with new 24″ monitors.
  • Dell Latitude 7440 notebook systems, with docking stations and Dell 24″ Ultrasharp monitors.
  • Dell Venue 11 Pro tablet systems for warehouse staff to maintain inventory lists at both the main factory and storage warehouses.
  • Built on Microsoft Server 2012 R2, and Hyper-V technology, the server environment was designed to run core network roles, remote access, and line of business application functionality (in Sun Block Blinds case, a custom build job tracking system!)
  • Microsoft licensing provided by Microsoft SPLA – a pay per month arrangement for Microsoft licenses.
  • Data backup via Veeam Backup & Recovery for Microsoft Hyper-V

Given the high reliance on IT for the administrative and sales staff and very low tolerance for interruption, the implementation plan was staged to deploy all new desktop, notebook, and tablet hardware first, followed by a primarily after-hours migration of data to the server platform.

Downtime Allowance

The allowance for interruption was approximately one hour for each computer user as their new computers were installed on their desks, and approximately two hours of server-based interruption late one afternoon to commence the migration to the new server platform; the remainder of the migration was completed after business hours.

The Outcome

Reference letter from Sun Block Blinds

Reaching practical project completion within 1.5 months from commencing work, activIT systems has delivered a modern, fast, reliable, and highly cost effective IT environment solution for Sun Block Blinds.

During the implementation, the staff from Sun Block Blinds provided amazing feedback, with the common themes being “This new system is so much faster”, “I don’t need to wait 15 minutes to log on to the computer any more”, and “MYOB runs much faster – no more waiting in between mouse clicks!”.

Following on from the completion of the project in September 2014, we received the following awesome feedback:

We would like sincerely compliment you on the exemplary service and advice we have received during our recent computer and email systems renewal and upgrade by activIT systems. The solutions you have provided in the administration area have improved our productivity remarkably.

We have received outstanding support all the way through the process, which was handled quietly and efficiently without any major disruption to our business operations. The calm and professional manner in which all inquiries have been handled and resolved by yourself and your excellent staff members is impressive.

We have no hesitation in recommending activIT systems to any business or individual requiring a reliable, knowledgeable and honest solution to their IT requirements. Thank you and we look forward with pleasure to our continued association in the future.

Gay Panossian, Sun Block Blinds

Ongoing support

Although the project is complete, activIT systems continues to provide on going services to Sun Block Blinds. Recognizing the importance of taking care of their investment into IT, Sun Block Blinds relies on us to provide the on going maintenance, management, and support services via our computerCare and serverCare managed services agreements.

Could your business benefit by a solution like this?

If your business faces similar problems to what Sun Block Blinds did, contact us to find out how our solutions will make your business life easier and more productive.

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Fleetdynamics, Server migration to activCloud in 2012

In mid 2012, we moved Fleetdynamics’ server infrastructure from aging on-premise equipment, to a state of the art data centre running on our activCloud virtual server platform. Read the case study below.

The Client: Fleetdynamics

Fleetdynamics provides real time GPS tracking for fleet vehicles, heavy machinery, expensive mobile assets, and more. Their custom built and unique tracking system is 100% reliant on technology to function 100% of the time.

Any server outage will mean that tracking data is not up to date, or customers won’t be able to access the live information on their fleet whereabouts. Being a 24×7 operation, there is very little tolerance for IT-based interruption.

With an increasing customer base, more GPS units in the field, and more traffic to their website every day, we were tasked to set up a solution for Fleetdynamics which was scalable with great performance, and most importantly – had to have amazing reliability.

The Solution

After reviewing the existing hardware infrastructure and identifying several areas of unnecessary risk, and limitations for growth, the recommendation to place the critical functions of the Fleetdynamics in our activCloud platform was accepted.

Due to confidentiality agreements we cannot go into too much detail, however, the solution comprised of:

  • A number of virtual servers running on our activCloud platform, and additional services in additional data centres to provide geographic redundancy and load balancing.
  • Built on Microsoft Server 2012 R2, and VMware technology, the virtual server environment handles the website front end, database back end, and one part of a GPS data target load balancing system
  • Frequent data backups to several locations

Given the high reliance on IT for the administrative and sales staff and very low tolerance for interruption, the implementation plan was staged to deploy all new desktop, notebook, and tablet hardware first, followed by a primarily after-hours migration of data to the server platform.

Downtime Allowance

The allowance for interruption was approximately a four hour window on a Friday evening, to decommission the existing server infrastructure, migrate databases, and put the new virtual server infrastructure into production. Despite the downtime allowance running over time by approximately 30 minutes, the switch across to the new systems was smooth and no major issues were identified.

The Outcome

The project required several weeks of planning and preparation, to achieve a migration turnaround of under five hours during the downtime window. During the 48 hours following the activCloud servers being put into production, the new environment was monitored to ensure that the GPS devices had detected the new servers and were reporting in correctly.

The major outcomes for Fleetdynamics have been:

  1. Plenty of room for growth, due to activCloud’s scalability. The system isn’t restricted by hardware or resource limitations.
  2. Less operational risk, due to the reliability and always-available nature of activCloud.
  3. Faster response for customers when they visit the website and log in to the tracking system.
Since moving to the activCloud virtual server platform, we haven’t had to worry about servers crashing or our systems performing slowly for customers. Not only have we found activCloud to be fast to work with, but the team at activIT systems are always fast to respond to any queries we have, and come up with great ideas on how to use technology better, to remain ahead of our competitors.

We have no hesitation in recommending anyone to activIT systems, for great IT advice, services, and support.

Ongoing support

Although the project is complete, activIT systems continues to provide on going services to Fleetdynamics. Recognizing the importance of taking care of their investment into IT, Fleetdynamics relies on us to provide the on going maintenance, management, and support services to their new server infrastructure, and continued consultation to make the IT behind their unique GPS tracking systems an advantage over their competitors.

Could your business benefit by a solution like this?

If your business faces similar problems to what Fleetdynamics did, contact us to find out how our solutions will make your business life easier and more productive.

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Don’t want to email? Call us on 1300 228 480.

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