London - SAS Global Communications, an international provider of managed and professional network services, has announced the completion of a project to upgrade the network infrastructure of Sovereign Design and Play Systems. As part of the project, the managed services provider will deliver network monitoring and support services to the company on a 7-7 basis.
Sovereign Design Play Systems is one of the largest providers of play school ground developments in the UK. Over the last 17 years, the company has transformed over 10,000 outdoor environments into imaginative play and learning zones.
Like most organisations, Sovereign has become increasingly dependent on its IT systems as the company has grown but with a burgeoning user base, this was starting to take its toll on the performance and availability of applications.
“Our server connectivity was getting slower and slower but we weren’t getting any closer to resolving the issues with our supplier,” said Paul Jacques, general manager for Sovereign Design Play Systems. “It all came to a head when we needed to recover some files from a back up and they couldn’t be found.”
Concerned that the company had outgrown both its systems and its suppliers, Paul decide to take action and contacted SAS, a specialist in infrastructure design and managed services.
“We knew we wanted to outsource the IT function but we didn’t know if we should have someone in-house as well for basic operations,” said Paul. “After we talked through the options with SAS and worked out what the person would be doing, I could see it wasn’t cost effective.”
Paul also realised that one person could not be an expert in all areas of infrastructure management and design.
“By using a managed service provider like SAS, we could have access to multiple people with multiple areas of expertise,” said Paul. “And if we have a particular task that needs doing, we get the best person for the job rather than settle for the best job that one person can do.
Prior to implementing any changes, SAS recommended an audit of Sovereign’s systems and infrastructure to document the system and gain a complete understanding of what the company had and how it was being used.
The results of the audit showed that whilst most of the equipment and software in use was perfectly functional, the system had been configured with a number of errors which left it open to management issues.
Armed with this information, Sovereign commissioned SAS to rectify the issues and deliver a scalable solution for the company going forward.
To kick-off the project, SAS created a new Active Directory environment, with Microsoft’s Small Business Server 2008, and migrated Sovereign’s existing systems to the new infrastructure. It also installed and configured a new HP Proliant server with MS Exchange 2008, integrating the company’s existing server technology with the new architecture.
A Cisco router and integrated firewall VPN appliance was installed to improve Internet security and resilience and enable management to have VPN access to the network, and robust nightly backups were configured with real time replication to disk.
Sovereign’s existing antivirus technology was replaced with a centrally managed solution for all servers and desktops and SAS Global Communications applied EPA’s content filtering service for web browsing and email.
Keen to deliver additional benefits with Sovereign’s new infrastructure, SAS implemented a fully integrated Blackberry infrastructure, which now provides mobile connectivity for the company’s project management team
“The Blackberry infrastructure ensures that our drivers can always have access to email but it’s also a really useful tool for keeping a visual record of work in progress and site deliveries which is very important for compliance with health and safety regulations,” said Paul.
With the new server infrastructure in place, SAS was also able to establish group policies for Sovereign’s desktop environment; these allows the company to restrict the level of system intervention available to users, thereby reducing the overhead for supporting users in-house.
SAS also carried out a review of Sovereign’s calls and lines estate and re-contracted it to BT, along with its Internet connectivity allowing the company to make considerable savings on its annual telephony charges.
“We did have a few hiccups on the project but this wasn’t SAS’s fault,” said Paul. “The SAS support team is always helpful – they’ve even helped out on stuff that’s not technically on their job list – and they’re always contactable.”
Since completing the initial network project, SAS has now taken responsibility for managing the new infrastructure and provides 7-7 support, including network monitoring, through its network operations centre in West Sussex.
“When you’ve got a rapidly growing business, back office processes like IT don’t tend to be a priority until something goes wrong,” said Charles Davis, CEO for SAS Global Communications. “Fortunately for Sovereign, Paul Jacques was able to spot the problems quite quickly and get SAS’s help to resolve the issues before they could negatively impact the business.”