Innerglass

CASE STUDY

A Brief Introduction

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Peterlee-based IG is one of the UK’s largest independent suppliers of non-food consumables to the hospitality, catering, care homes, contract cleaners and leisure sectors.

The last three years has seen turnover increase by 20% to nearly £20m, staff numbers rise to 120, and IG listed as one of the North East’s Fasted 50 companies to watch. ITPS has provided consultancy and support to IG for over a decade, and when growth plus a lack of space at IG’s Sunderland site prompted a move to its new £2.4m showroom and distribution centre in Peterlee, a new IT infrastructure was needed.

Will you cope if disaster strikes

The Challenge

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Grahame Barwick, IT Manager, explains the background: “We were suffering from a lack of space and our system was slowing down, with hardware coming to the end of its life.

We were also looking at buying an extra four servers to run our Merlin ERP system, so we were at a crucial point in our IT systems development.

“We asked ITPS for advice on how to future-proof our IT and make the business more resilient, and opted to switch to a virtualised environment that would meet all our needs.”

ITPS Approach

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ITPS has provided consultancy and support to IG for over a decade, and when growth plus a lack of space at IG’s Sunderland site prompted a move to its new £2.4m showroom and distribution centre in Peterlee, a new IT infrastructure was needed.

“We asked ITPS for advice on how to future-proof our IT and make the business more resilient, and opted to switch to a virtualised environment that would meet all our needs.” ITPS engineers created a VMware virtualised system, using IBM servers and storage. This allowed a high level of inbuilt resilience, thanks to VMware’s high availability module, which in the event of a failure or a high processing power and memory requirement, automatically moves applications from one physical server to another to balance the load or until a fault is corrected.

Results

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BUSINESS AS USUAL

The switchover was carried out over a January weekend, so when staff arrived on Monday morning it was business as usual. “The team did an outstanding job, from the consultants who created the infrastructure to the engineers who set it up, and we very much appreciated the effort they put in,” says Grahame.

“We’ve got ‘always on’ connectivity in and out of the office plus resilience and scalability, and those are key factors for our business. We pride ourselves on our high levels of service and support, supplying to contract cleaners for all the big supermarkets and we need 100% uptime. We never want to tell our client they can’t clean Tesco stores tonight because there is no product on its way.

Future Forward

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The three virtualised servers which have since gown to thirteen are now backed up to ITPS’s Tier 3 data centre, which also houses a virtualised server that IG can use for safe ‘live’ testing. The data centre provides a top security environment with multiple UPS units, fire suppression systems, load balance air conditioning, generator backup for power failure and 24x7x365 system monitoring. A dedicated 100Mbps telecommunications connection direct to IG provides high speed replication and data backup.

For instance we initially planned that our sales team would remain in Sunderland, so a mini network was created, linking Peterlee, Sunderland and the data centre. After trialling this arrangement we decided to move sales to Peterlee and change Sunderland to be our bulk storage facility, but retain the telephone number, which meant ITPS revisiting the structure to incorporate that move. And it was no problem for them.” Moving to a virtualised environment has seen IG cut costs and increase efficiency, and resulted in fewer potential points of failure, according to Grahame.

We rate them at ten out of ten for technical expertise. They keep us up to date with industry developments and issues too. We can throw them a problem and ask their advice, and we’ll get an honest answer and a quick response.

Will you cope if disaster strikes

The ITPS Difference

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We have a very strong relationship with ITPS, and that’s down to several factors. Anyone can sell cheaply. Service is the key, and that’s the differentiator with ITPS. We get good value for money, and they are people who deliver what they say they will deliver, when they say they will deliver it.

As a business we like to work with partners who we feel understand us. We see regular faces, people we trust. And we can call them any time. I’ve even known an engineer to put down his knife and fork and abandon his Sunday lunch to come to our aid. Although we do some of the day to day work ourselves if we need to configure a server or make big changes, we call off some of our bank of days with them to take the load off our shoulders and free us up to deal with other priorities.

If problems arise – and they do, just like in our own business – they are quickly and smoothly dealt with. ITPS people don’t waffle, they tell us the truth and we have pro-active channels of communication.

“All I need to do is say this is the result I want, and this is when I’d like it. There is no need to look over their shoulders because I’m confident they’ll deliver.”

Grahame Barwick

IT Manager, Innerglass

Get In Touch

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