Making a Decision.
With sites in Salford, UK and Suzhou, China, both relying on the system, something needed to be done. After reaching out to a number of local support providers, Dean Seddon, Managing Director at Speedy Products, called in Andrew Doyle of SaaSAge to talk through things and evaluate their systems look over the system.
Says Dean, “There was an instant synergy. We could see he clearly understood our situation and even better was able to give us the intensive care we needed, to help us pull out the old unmaintainable hardware and streamline our technology.”
“Without Andrew’s help we’d have had to bring in at least two in house specialists to take care of the system. Three probably. What’s that? A minimum salary spend of £100k a year.”
“Now Andrew’s on the team and anything we want to do as an IT project is run through him. He’s great as a sounding board, someone to bounce ideas off. A proper business thinker.”
“His guys are great too, they come along as and when. They give us help when we require it and share a valuable independent view. It’s like having in house IT – there’s never an issue – and unlike a lot of I.T. experts the communication is instant and clear. Understandable.”
“And over the years we’ve certainly given them plenty to do,” says Dean. “There’s many a time he’s pulled us out of the fire!”
A Case in Point.
Like the time the main server collapsed, just as the company was about to go ‘live’ using Google Apps. “The re-configuring, the reloading, the testing… Andrew’s team worked through it all. They absolutely nailed it,” says Dean. “It would have taken days to get back up and running with anyone else. I’m sure of that.”
Or, the time that the company moved onto a SAP ERP system so they could be fully cloud based. Only one problem – the SAP scanners wouldn’t work. “Our ERP was absolutely failing. Abysmally,” says Dean, “despite SaaSAge testing and re-jigging everything, it was hopeless.” Fortunately, Andrew went in and helped Speedy find the right product to resolve the scanning nightmare.
Or the time, before Speedy Products were using fibre optic, that their WiFi failed. Completely. Whilst optics were being set up, all the WiFi was down. So, SaaSAge constructed a temporary yet elegant 4G phone workaround – and, because they were using Google Drive it meant that the company’s email and admin were still functioning well.
We’re a £10 – £12 million turnover business with only 2 people in IT thanks to Andrew’s input,” adds Dean. “I’d be looking at 5 or 6 without SaaSAge – especially as we run ERP. As referred to earlier, just three extra salaries would easily equate to more than £100k a year.”
“It’s definitely good business working with SaaSAge”, concludes Dean. “Really good for our business too.”
After talking with the technical team at ProClaim we had a crystal clear idea of exactly what sort of server and system would both cope with the initial load the growth potential.
What is ProClaim?
As a legal professional you’re probably familiar with ProClaim. You wouldn’t be alone. It’s the leading legal software solution. Over 23,000 professionals rely on Proclaim Case Management, Practice Management and Matter Management solutions to help deliver efficient, effective legal services.
So, when we were referred to a new solicitor in Bolton to specify, install and support their new IT system, it was little surprise that it would be running ProClaim. It was little surprise too that we’d been referred in. Experience with similar clients running MS SQL business systems had clearly demonstrated our ability in supporting ProClaim.
What’s more, we were asked to contribute at extremely short notice.
The SaaSAge Solution
In short – a Fully Redundant Virtualised Private Cloud with Virtual Shared SAN – Storage Area Network – by way of a virtual storage appliance.
A Private Cloud made up of 5 or 6 components, any of which could completely fail and the system would fail to go down. Using high speed, ultra-reliable enterprise level SSD technology alongside standard grade hard disks our virtual storage appliance merges disks in 2 computers to form a single large virtual disc array. A virtual storage appliance that intelligently shuffles data around to put the most frequently accessed data on the fastest disk. Optimised performance. Optimised resilience.
40 cores spread over 4 CPUs, 256 Gb RAM, 10Gb Ethernet redundant backbone network and 4Tb of storage and proven specialist storage software so effective that HP bought the company that developed it. Sat on top of this VMware ESXi intelligently manages the performance of the cluster, shuffling virtual servers between hosts to make the most of the clusters power while minimising ongoing power and cooling costs.
All the resources necessary to manage ProClaim work flows, reporting, running management dashboards starting with 20 users, but with scope to grow to 140. Arguably the most automated solicitors in the UK.
DRAAS – Heard of it?
Disaster Recovery as a Service – It’s important. Very important.
As a legal services company with many legal obligations, our client and their clients require nothing short of absolute confidence that should disaster strike, it’s not terminal. So, we factored disaster recovery into our post installation support – a server sat in the SaaSAge offices synchronises constantly with the client’s virtual storage appliance. A real-time replica of the live system ready to take to site within minutes in the event of disaster.
Real system design. Real system installation. Real contingency planning.
A real high performance system. A system designed to perform for years
A massively flexible virtual environment. The client’s own private cloud that allows them to build servers in minutes and do whatever they want to do.
Not only did we specify the required components, we bought them in, we checked inventory, tested them and assembled the kit. Then we dismantled it, took it to the client site, reassembled it, tested it and handed it over to the client. All by noon on Christmas Eve.
And all the time we were working alongside site builders and maintenance guys fitting out the client’s new premises – dust and all. Mapping, network cabling (including network switches that step in if others fail), routing, power over three floors, x2 UPSs, rack installation, MS Office 365 Email – the lot.
The client’s onsite IT ProClaim development guy spent the Christmas period installing the desktops and the phone systems.
On the 4th January, 20 people walked into the office and started using the service straight away. As they say in the industry… result!
In the words of Verbal Kint, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that, poof. He’s gone.” Without stretching the metaphor too far, this too should be expected of a decent IT Support team. It was certainly the expectation of Octapharma.
The Epitome of Stealth.
When it came to replacing and restructuring their servers and upgrading their staffs’ single 19″ screen computers with dual 24″ mounted screens and Microsoft Surface touchscreen tablets, SaaSAge were the epitome of stealth. They were onsite doing the sorting, the construction, the configuring over a weekend and then, like that, *poof* – they were gone.
Most of the Octapharma staff were blissfully unaware of their contribution – the only evidence of their visit some nice new kit and a more efficient, more robust future proofed system.
Says Sue Griffin UK General Manager of Octapharma UK, “When it comes to IT, for a business to not know that something complex has gone on in the background, for us to have had a major IT change without any business disruption, is a sign of success. A major benefit.”
Planning is Key.
Of course these things don’t just happen. There was careful planning over a 6 month period with the help of Andrew Keighley (a member of Sues team). ‘It was well thought through,” says Sue, “and it worked well. We specified the equipment, and did the training. Andrew’s team took care of the kit and the software.”
“Very effective teamwork. A good balance in the working relationship. If you’ve got an IT provider you shouldn’t expect them to do everything, nor should you do everything. What’s important is that you should be able to work together well – you need a good balance. That’s what we have with SaaSAge.”
Part of the Team.
There’s much more to the relationship than just special projects like server replacement. Says Sue, “I think of them as part of Octapharma, but not in the room. That’s how it should be for an IT provider.”
And a good thing too that we’re on hand day to day ready to step in should disaster strike.
A case in point, and one that typifies the kind of support that Octapharma enjoy, was a recent power failure in their office. SaaSAge were alerted during morning checks and were on the road by 08:40 heading to their offices to get them back up and running. The issue was fixed by 10:00. No prompting. No messing about. Just clear and full communication. Job done.
Would Sue recommend SaaSAge? “Yes, I would. Of course, I would. If I wasn’t happy to recommend them I’d get rid of them. Well you would, wouldn’t you?”
Thanks Sue. Endorsements don’t get any more unequivocal than that!
A split site school with an historic underinvestment in IT and outdated facilities.
The two sites were 500 yards apart. One at the top of a hill (with no internet connection for 2 years), the other at the bottom.
Two unsuccessful attempts by the local authorities at connecting the two.
Unfortunately, this was an IT problem that was more than simply technical. It was a problem that caused teaching performance issues, learning issues, morale issues and went as far as threatening their OFSTED ranking.
Making the Right Decision.
Neil took the above challenge to market and invited a number of IT providers to come up with creative answers. After a referral from a friend of the school, SaaSAge were included in the list. A list that was rapidly whittled down to two as the obvious non contenders were weeded out.
Says Neil, “SaaSAge weren’t the cheapest, in fact they were the most expensive. But there was such a level of professionalism when talking to Andrew that they were the obvious choice. Their vision and their values completely aligned with ours. Those of efficient, future proof IT.”
Here’s an example.
“The iPads,” says Neil, “We’d been quoted much less for them by the other company. Thousands less. But when we took a closer look it became clear that we were being quoted for iPad 2s with only a short amount of lifespan. Andrew was quoting on iPad 4s with the much longer lifespan that we were looking for. It was important that our investment was long term – something Andrew clearly understood and something the others either didn’t understand or were simply prepared to overlook to win the work.”
Rock Solid Foundations.
Installing new computers meant nothing without the right infrastructure, the connection between the two buildings and the new WiFi set up properly.
“Fibre optic was a non-starter due to the short time scale, says Andrew Doyle, Director of SaaSAge, “There was no time to get the Council to dig up the road and BT to lay a fibre cable. The school had used VPN in the past but that relies on a decent internet connection at either end and couldn’t be guaranteed.”
The solution? SaaSAge brought in their specialist wireless networking team to set up a wireless site to site connection, running at speeds as fast as a physical fibre connection (1Gb a second no less!)
The old hotchpotch of poor quality and unreliable cabling and wireless routers were thrown out. In their place, SaaSAge installed an internal and external wireless system that allowed the pupils iPads to seamlessly roam the 2 school campus’ without dropping connection.
SaaSAge certainly didn’t hang about when it came to getting Charlesworth up and running.
And on January 4th, a matter of weeks since being first contacted, SaaSAge concluded installation with a full staff system introduction including iPad training and support with their Purple Mash educational software platform.
In Three Words?
“Honest, professional, personable,” says Neil. “All is working well. What we’re seeing now is staff looking forward to coming in and using it. We can now teach the full curriculum and take full advantage of the internet as a teaching resource.”
And all safe in the knowledge that SaaSAge are keeping a close eye on system performance and reliability. “Because SaaSAge remotely monitor our system from their offices, responding to issues that we didn’t even know existed, it means we don’t the need to employ an IT technician on site. The key to the success of this project wasn’t just their values, it was their vision, the structure that means the whole system works properly.”
“I’ve already referred them to other schools,” concludes Neil. “What comes around goes around, as they say.”
Whatever you need support with, we’re there to help.
With the right technology, the right advice, at the right time.