PR & Communications Agency

Background

The client is an independent communications consultancy comprising three fully integrated agencies, specialising in media relations, public affairs and digital communications. They help their clients to make public policy arguments across these disciplines to get their voice heard

Challenge

The client had one server running Microsoft Small Business Server located in their office. This handled their network, emails, and documents with tape backups manually changed every day.

Remote accessing of data was unstable and slow which needed addressing.

After an issue with the server over a weekend meaning HostigIt4U staff were unable to access the equipment in the office resulted in missed communications for the client from a customer. This highlighted the necessity for a smarter solution to be implemented as a priority.

The client needed a robust, secure and fast system ensuring that no loss of access or missed emails occurred in the future.

The client was also interested in moving across to Apple MACS if possible.

Solution

HostingIT4U Ltd designed a Hosted Solution based on their current setup. This allowed them the best of both worlds by using Apple MACs while accessing their Windows Hosted Desktop.

As with most of HostingIT4U projects, the process was split into stages, Stage 1 being emails and Stage 2 Hosted Desktops.

Email migration can be achieved with no disruption to emails and no change to the way the user sees and accesses their emails. Some of the users maintain very large mailboxes, the move to a hosted solution allowed HostingIT4U to better manage the resources and meet user demand quicker and seamlessly.

The email migration to a Hosted environment was completed successfully and a period of “bedding down” was allowed to enable users time to familiarise themselves with the new features, such as archiving.

Company iPhones and Blackberries were reconfigured for the new Exchange email, and confidence in the new Hosted email system was quickly established.

HostingIT4U then moved onto stage 2 – the migration to hosted desktops. The new infrastructure comprised of a single server running Windows server 2008 mirrored to a second data centre. Two hourly snapshots were taken on each server and kept for 3 days with an additional automatic backup of the data taken every night and stored in an independent location.

Each user’s Hosted Desktop was then created and the data migrated. User applications were installed and tested. At this stage no user was allowed live access to the Hosted Desktop to ensure data integrity during the migration. It also ensured there was no disruption to their working day. However all users had been given access to the Hosted Desktop in a controlled manner to allow them to familiarise themselves to the new setup.

A date was agreed on with the client and access for users to the old server disabled one evening. The following morning HostingIT4U staff were onsite to support staff logging onto the new system which went very smoothly and no disruption to the working of the staff.

Regular quarterly meetings were held to ensure all was running smoothly and future growth was managed effectively from an IT perspective.

After about a year it became clear the Hosted environment was beginning to struggle to cope with the demands of the users. An audit identified several areas of concern. A small number of users desktops were utilising a larger proportion of available processes which had a knock on effect. The growth of graphic software not on the original plan was also straining the resources.

There was an increase in Video streaming from News Stories, again limiting resources for other systems. With limited resources available there was a knock on effect on some of the other services, such as the email search facility that started having issues.

A temporary solution was to move the heavy resource usage applications to local desktops with links to the Hosted network for accessing data. This relieved some of the solution but was never intended as a permanent solution.

As soon as Windows Server 2012R2 became available a new infrastructure was designed and setup involving 2 servers with no increase in costs to the client. HostingIT4U migrating the data and created all the new Hosted Desktops ensuring each one was setup exactly how each user required.

The day the new Hosted Desktop went live went very smoothly and immediately all users noticed a vast improvement in speed and all other issues were resolved. Email search indexing worked without issue.

The new setup has been running for some time and is still performing to a high level and as expected.

 

 

Client Testimonial;

“HostingIT4U have been looking after our IT since we started the company over ten years ago. They are responsive, professional and eager to help. They will always go above and beyond in order to ensure things are running smoothly. New staff members often say the IT at this company works better than anywhere else they have worked, and this is down to their determination to ensuring the system is the best fit for our needs.”
Testimonial avatar   Estelle McCartney, Managing Director, Champollion