Client: Oakwell Commercials
Project: IT System Outsourcing
Perhaps a typical example of where a fully managed pro-active outsourced IT service fits in perfectly for all the right reasons.
Oakwell Commercials were trying to manage their IT systems themselves on the whole. They were paying a third party a monthly fee but weren’t getting anything for that. The service wasn’t proactive and just allowed them to ring up when things had gone wrong or needed fixing. It only covered the servers as Oakwell felt comfortable enough to look after the PC’s and any day to day problems themselves.
Managing their systems in this way was leading to a lot of downtime and lost hours of work for some of the key staff dealing with the day to day issues with PC’s. A lot of routine checks were not taking place either, such as making sure windows updates and virus pattern updates were going on to the PC’s and servers.
Often a lot of time was being taken and productivity lost when a PC was hit with a virus due to the latest patches not being on. The PC would remain out of use until one of the managers could find some time to deal with it and clean it down.
Other routine procedures like checking the backups had worked and swapping the tapes or external hard drives around on the server on a daily basis was not happening. Basic best practises were not being followed.
Many benefits and features of the system they had got were not being utilised as they had attempted to implement the technology themselves but hadn’t managed to do it. They had a Small Business Server 2008 but weren’t able to configure the Exchange server fully for Outlook web access and to be able to link smartphones up to synchronise with it when away from the office.
This again is another basic best practise that most SME’s enjoy when using Microsoft’s Small Business Server.
CNi Solutions were invited in to review the current situation and setup. The idea of a fully managed pro-active service had pretty much been sold to them already. They realised that the monthly payment they were making to their current provider was a waste of time as they weren’t getting anything for it.
To prove our worth, task number one was to configure the SBS server for secure external access meaning Outlook web access could be used and ultimately linked up to the smartphones they were using to synchronise their Outlook information.
The first thing we do when we take over a support contract is to carry out an audit, enabling us to see what requires doing to get the system to a point where it is stable and manageable. All the key elements of the system are checked and documentation is formed making note of all the relevant network settings and details.
One of the most important things for any business is daily backups of the system. We noticed straight away that this hadn’t been working and the tapes hadn’t been getting changed. External hard drives were being used as well but again they weren’t being used properly or being changed over.
This was all put in place straight away as a priority. The backup routine was moved to external hard drives only and enough supplied to allow a 2 week rotation. Backup software was installed that could easily manage this 2 week rotation of external hard drives. It also sends out reminders via email and reports of the backups that have taken place, listing any warnings if there are any. This was immediately a huge improvement on what they had. The next step was to recommend that some of the most critical data be backed up offsite over the internet for added disaster recovery and business continuity.
As part of our pro-active service we also check the backups on a monthly basis by doing test restores of the data. This ensures that when the backup software says the backup has taken place we check that it really has.
At the same time as doing the backup software we installed out Server monitoring software. This keeps a check on the basic functioning of the server and sends out warnings to us ahead of a problem occurring that could take the server down or stop some of its services.
Basic simple things like low disk space warnings, heavy memory or processor utilisation, essential services being stopped or failed. Also the software constantly checks for connectivity, if it can’t contact the server being monitored for whatever reason a warning is sent to us. This can be very useful when a client’s server crashes at night or their internet goes off. We will be warned of this and ready to react in the morning, often ringing the client first before they are even aware and making plans to go on site if required or ring their internet service provider. Putting us and you on the front foot.
Please call us to enquire about having your computer systems managed pro-actively and monitored by Microsoft certified engineers.