As IT becomes increasingly complex, and cyber-attacks and ransomware situations continue to make the headlines, organisations from SMEs to large corporates are choosing to offload the burden of managing their IT infrastructure to a trusted partner who can deliver IT as a service.
The managed IT services model has proved to be highly effective in managing costs, strengthening security and maintaining a secure, flexible IT environment that supports the business, rather than becoming a weight to be carried.
National construction and property consultants Summers Inman is a typical example of an organisation focussed on smarter ways of working.
Our partnership with the 90 year old business goes back to 2000. With over 100 staff in eight offices serving an international client base, high speed connectivity and availability of systems and data is high on its agenda.
In 2015 Summers Inman switched from onsite IT to a data centre based model, which saw a 30-strong server estate consolidated into just two servers plus a storage area network, all housed at our £4m high security data centre and workspace recovery facility in County Durham.
This resulted in increased security and performance, thanks to a high performance three-way communications link between the Summers Inman offices and two of ITPS’s ISO27001-certified data centres, underpinning a virtuous circle of ‘always available’ IT systems and data for staff, whatever their location. This was supported by a 20(?)-strong team of dedicated network operations engineers onsite at the County Durham data centre, who monitor the Summers IT infrastructure 24/7, anticipating and dealing with any issues before they can cause a problem.
Three years later, when Summers Inman’s servers were approaching end of life, the board faced a decision about the next step and how to achieve yet more value from its IT spend, particularly in the face of an increasing number of critical but data-heavy industry applications which were gobbling up resources.
The shortlist of choices eventually hinged on whether to continue down the capital expenditure route and replace like for like, or look at what are essentially rental models such as public, private and hybrid cloud options.
Summers Inman were aware of our early adoption of Microsoft’s Azure Stack, which is the software giant’s public cloud offering, tailored, delivered and supported via the data centre of a trusted partner.
Azure Stack was installed in our data centre by a team made up of US-based Microsoft engineers who flew over, and our own virtualisation and networking experts. After a series of Q&A sessions and some of their own research, the Summers Inman board opted to go forward with an Azure Stack solution supported by an enhanced managed services contract, which fitted into its plans to centralise round a Microsoft product set. It also gave the business the enhanced disaster recovery capabilities that many of its public sector companies demand.
“Many years ago we took the view that managing IT is a job for experts,” explains Mark Dutton, regional managing director at Summers Inman.
“A managed services model gives us peace of mind, and from a commercial viewpoint, the move to Azure Stack added up nicely. We have already seen savings on power and cooling costs, along with significant performance increases in some areas. Any issues can be addressed from the data centre without involving a call out to an office that could previously have been in Edinburgh or London.
“The migration stage to Azure Stack took just 12 days, and went very smoothly, even though it coincided with an office move which saw ITPS move the patch panels and test the system for us as well as providing us with new switches.”
The flexibility of service is one of the big attractions for Summers Inman.
“It gives us choices,” says Mark. “For instance if we decide to diversify and add additional specialisms to our services, we can increase the pressure on our IT infrastructure with no risk and no extra kit needed. We can spin up live, safe test environments in a few minutes as and when we need them, for instance for development testing of new applications.
“Managed services is a cost effective way of bringing in an expert partner with a high level of expertise, a broad span of experience, and who can bring new ideas to the table.
“Our model is tailored around our requirements, and is a the perfect way to keep up to date with advances in technology and make sure our IT always supports our changing needs.
“ITPS take care of our IT, while we look after our business.’