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Quick Glace Summary.
- The entire IT infrastructure across all three client sites was outdated and in urgent need of a refresh.
- The network cabling across all three sites was also tired and needed replacing.
- The on-premise server at the head office needed to be replaced but a legacy operating system needed to be retained to continue running existing machinery.
- The existing data backup solution was ineffective with no redundancy in place for a disaster recovery scenario.
- Any existing Cyber Security solutions were approaching end-of-life and needed to be replaced.
- Complete phase one at the head office, including upgrading the entire IT suite, new network cabling, complete a server migration, plus introduce a UPS and hardware Firewall appliance.
- Complete phase two at the Manchester branch office, setting up new PCs and peripherals for the admin team, in addition to introducing a second hardware firewall appliance.
- Complete phase three at the Bedford depot, including upgrading the IT and comms cabling and cabinet, introducing an internet fibre line and supplying tablet devices for the floor staff.
- Our team completed the head office infrastructure upgrade in month one, with the subsequent branch office upgrades completed in month two.
- The client is now enjoying greatly improved internet security through the implementation of multiple firewalls, faster and more reliable network connectivity due to the structured cabling upgrades, better collaboration between all three offices thanks to a site-to-site VPN connection and improved productivity thanks to the desktop and workstation upgrades.
- Business continuity has been assured through the implementation of a cloud-based backup solution with data replication.
Continue reading the case study in full.
The client’s IT systems across all three of its UK sites was heavily outdated and in essential need of an upgrade across the board.
Most of the PC’s being used were over five years old, with operating systems out of date by two versions, sometimes more.
Local network connectivity was severely outdated.
In addition to the IT systems, the client’s local network connectivity was also heavily outdated at the head office. Much of the network cabling was either damaged or in need of upgrading, the Wireless Access Points were limited in range and capability, there were no managed network switches in use and any switches did not have gigabit capability and lastly, no proper comms cabinet was in place.
The client still needed an on-premise server.
Due to the type of machinery being used and the applications that go with them, the client still required an on-premise server. As with the PC’s, the existing server was outdated. This was partly by design because some machinery will only work with historical operating systems. In addition, there was no existing redundancy in place so in the event of a power outage, the server would become unavailable, with significant risk of data loss.
The existing backup solution wasn’t up to the task.
The client was using on-premise Network Attached Storage as a backup device with limited space and no on or offsite replication in place.
As you can see from the diverse list of challenges, this project was one that needed an intricate level of management, and one that also needed to be implemented in three separate phases.
Assigning a project manager.
As with all our projects, a member of our project management team was assigned as the lead to take full responsibility of the project from concept to completion, including resources, processes, planning, design, and implementation.
Phase one – Infrastructure upgrades at the head office.
- Upgrade the network cabling and comms cabinet – Following the pre-project scope assessment, our network engineer completed a full structured IT and comms network cabling upgrade at the London office, introducing a higher performance Cat6 cable throughout the building, in addition to a wall-mounted comms cabinet to facilitate the new managed network switch, Firewall and patch panels. Due to the size and complexity of the building, the re-cabling stage of the project was completed over two days.
- Implement a managed network switch and patch panel – Once the structured cabling was in place, one of our onsite engineers completed the setup of the comms cabinet by installing and configuring a new Netgear 48 port manged network switch, which allows us greater control over managing and monitoring the network, making changes remotely when needed.
- Roll out a new wireless network – Once the new structured cabling was tested and working, we then continued to setup and configure the new wireless access points. Our current WAP of choice is the Ubiquiti UniFI pro range because they offer a perfect balance of performance, reliability and value for money. In addition, the Unifi pro access points were tethered together to create a single extended wireless connection, which eliminated any potential dead spots throughout the entire building. The UniFi pro range of access points can also be fully managed remotely.
- Complete a server migration – Once the structured cabling was in place, the next stage was to roll out the updated hardware, starting with the replacement server. For this particular project, we chose a Dell PowerEdge R440 server because it offers a nice balance between cost and specification, in addition to facilitating future growth, with space for up to 10 x SAS and 4 x NVE drives. In addition, Dell servers have a fantastic reputation for their reliability and their comprehensive onsite product warranties in the rare event of any issues with the hardware. The server migration itself was completed by our in-house projects team, well in advance of the network connectivity upgrades, allowing our client to benefit from their new systems immediately. The server was running the latest Microsoft Windows Server Operating system, however, the client’s machinery required a legacy OS to run, so we installed an earlier version of Windows Server OS on a virtual server environment that we created on the new hardware. This was vigorously tested before rolling out the new server and switching it to a live state.
- Introduce a UPS – When setting up the server at the head office, we also introduced a new APC Uninterruptable power supply (UPS) which ensures the server will continue running for over 13 minutes, allowing us to shut down the server safely in the event of a power outage. We chose an APC rackmount UPS so it could be housed in the same cabinet as the server.
- Introduce a new Firewall appliance – The next step was to replace the clients outdated hardware Firewall with a new Watchguard M290 Firewall, a Firewall that is designed to provide maximum protection for small businesses by providing a multi-layered line of defence against the latest online threats, including ransomware, botnet attacks, viruses malware, phishing attacks and more. It also allows us to setup a site-to-site VPN connection between all three offices, allowing everyone to directly access the data and applications on the new server. Our in-house team pre-configured the Firewall at our office before so that it was live as soon as the network infrastructure upgrades were completed.
- Introduce a cloud data backup service – We replaced the clients on-premise NAS device that was being used to backup their data and replaced it with a cloud based data backup solution. This highly efficient solution takes a daily incremental backup of the clients data, which is then stored in the cloud and replicated across two independent data centres, providing redundancy and ensuring the client experience no data loss in the event of an outage, which is something they never had in place.
- Setup and configure the new workstations – The next task was to upgrade all of the clients outdated Computers. Due to the nature of their work, standard specification PCs were not going to cut the mustard and because of this, we replaced all the existing PCs with Dell Precision workstations that were using 12th generation Intel Core i7 processors with 16 GB of memory, making light work of CAD and other resource intensive applications.
Once phase one was complete, we then moved onto phases two and three, continuing on to upgrade the infrastructures of the Manchester and Bedford branch offices respectfully.
Phase two – Infrastructure upgrades at the Manchester branch office.
The Manchester office has a much smaller footprint when compared to London and Bedford, which is home to a small administrative and accounts team. Based in a relatively new building that was located in an industrial estate, the structured cabling infrastructure was in a good shape and didn’t require any upgrades.
- Setup new PCs for the admin team – The office area of the depot was restricted in terms of space, so we opted for replacing the existing machines with Dell Inspiron All-in-one PCs, which incorporates the monitor and computer into a single chassis. In addition, we opted for the Inspiron range because they offer fantastic value for money for end users that work with applications that are not resource intensive.
- Setup a new Firewall appliance – As with the head office, we introduced another Watchguard Firewall appliance at the Bedford branch. Our Firewall of choice was a WatchGuard T40, which offers enterprise level security for small offices, in addition to site-to-site VPN connectivity, allowing the staff to securely and directly access the file server at the head office.
- Supply and install a new all-in-one printer – Although the company operates a paperless office, there is the odd occasion when the team needs to print of scan documents. The existing printer at the office was at least five years old and the cartridges were very expensive, so as an alternative, we supplied and installed one of the latest Epson Eco-tank multi-function printers. These printers are ultra-low cost because they do not require cartridges. Instead, you simply to up the ink tanks with one of four coloured ink bottles as and when required.
Phase three – Infrastructure upgrades at the Bedford depot.
In comparison to the Manchester office, the Bedford depot is similar in size and infrastructure, with a slightly larger install base of logistics staff that work in a loading area downstairs. At the client’s request, all of the work was completed outside of standard business hours to avoid disruption to the client’s delivery schedule.
As with the Manchester office, we installed a matching hardware Firewall appliance and setup a site-to-site VPN, allowing all three offices to collaborate on the same documents and files. We also replaced all of their outdated Computers with the same Dell Inspiron All-in-one PCs. In addition to this, we also completed the following:
- Introduce a new Internet Fibre line – The staff at the Bedford Depot were still using an ADSL internet connection with speeds that were greatly affecting productivity. Our solution was to introduce an internet fibre line with a Gigabit download speed. Our project manager took full ownership of checking availability in the area before ordering the line and arranging installation on our clients behalf.
- Upgrade the network cabling and comms cabinet – As with the head office in London, the structured network cabling required upgrading throughout the property, albeit on a smaller scale. Again, our cabling engineer ran Cat6 cables throughout the building and also implemented a compact comms cabinet to facilitate the patch panels, managed 24 port switch and the Firewall.
- Supply new Tablet devices for the floor staff – Previously, the floor staff were using Android based tablet devices for their inventory management software. However, these were starting to age, becoming slower over time. Battery life also starting to become a problem. In addition, many of the tablets were damaged from being used in a warehouse environment. We replaced these with the latest Galaxy Tab active Pro tablet devices, which feature a military-grade exterior for protection when used in tough conditions. Our project management team liaised with the 3rd party inventory software developers to ensure that the application was compatible with the latest version of Android before purchasing and implementing these devices.
The above project was completed in three phases across a 2-month period. Our team completed the head office infrastructure upgrade in month one, with the subsequent branch office upgrades completed in month two.
- The entire project was managed in-house by a member of our project management team, with our field support engineers and structured cabling experts completing any onsite installation and configuration activities.
- The client is now enjoying the many benefits of a full IT infrastructure upgrade, including greatly improved internet security through the implementation of multiple hardware firewalls, faster and more reliable network connectivity due to the structured cabling upgrades, better collaboration between all three offices thanks to a site-to-site VPN connection and improved productivity thanks to the desktop and workstation upgrades.
- Business continuity has been assured through the implementation of a cloud-based backup solution with data replication.
- We provided onsite support post-project to ensure that any snagging issues were dealt with quickly and efficiently.
- We also arranged for all of the client’s redundant equipment to be recycled or destroyed, providing an inventory list and certificate of destruction where required.