Established in 1817, White & Sons is an award-winning independent estate agent with five offices throughout Surrey. The firm is a forward-thinking business which uses cutting-edge technology backed by 200 years of experience to assist with the buying, selling and renting process.
White & Sons had always believed in technology as a business enabler, and this philosophy had for many years given them a distinct advantage over much of their competition. Preferring to focus on their core business skills, the directors at White & Sons had previously chosen to outsource the management of their IT infrastructure to a specialist local IT support company. By early 2016, however, the relationship had completely broken down and Shift F7 were invited to meet with the management team and present our services.
The issues that White & Sons were facing could broadly be placed in two categories. Firstly, their server infrastructure was approaching end-of-life, and they were experiencing frequent outages and downtime which was causing them significant business interruption. Secondly, their existing IT support provider was failing to meet acceptable levels of service when these outages occurred. Slow response times were compounded by an excessively bureaucratic service culture which in turn led to each instance of downtime being unnecessarily prolonged. To make matters worse, any eventual remedy was usually a short-term fix which rarely involved investigating the underlying issue, meaning that another outage would occur a week or two later.
Unsurprisingly, this was the exact opposite of what White & Sons wanted from an IT services partner. Shift F7 was asked to provide detailed proposals for a new core IT infrastructure and ongoing IT support & consultancy services.
The team at Shift F7 initially conducted a full technical audit of White & Sons’ IT infrastructure in order to fully understand the environment before making any recommendations. The hardware was mostly several years old and would have cost several thousand pounds to replace. The team decided to propose that, rather than replace the existing infrastructure, we would instead propose that White & Sons move to a cloud model, leveraging our industry-leading virtual data centre solution.
This would immediately achieve several of their objectives, the obvious one being that we could very quickly provision a brand-new, fit-for-purpose IT infrastructure to replace their current, underperforming one. Furthermore, as Shift F7 already had its own mature, highly-specified, secure & stable IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) platform, the replication, design, testing & deployment of the new network could be achieved in a fraction of the time that a physical ‘replicate & replace’ project would have taken.
The virtual data centre service also came with an additional bonus: as the hardware on which White & Sons’ new infrastructure would be deployed was already hosted in our data centres as the backbone of our IaaS platform, there would be no need for the client to purchase any replacement servers, firewalls, storage or any other hardware. This meant a capital expenditure saving of over £10k – and the reduced licensing costs that our platform model offers meant a further saving of over £2k a year on software & application costs.
Of course, whilst system performance was a major issue for White & Sons, of equal importance was their desire to achieve a far better support service than they were currently receiving. Shift F7’s put together a managed support solution that included the transition of support services to our 24/7/365 service desk working in conjunction with our network operations team who would manage, monitor & maintain the new infrastructure.
The lack of any disaster recovery function was another pain-point with White & Sons’ previous IT partner and the company had real concerns around their ability to get back up & running in the event of a major incident. Fortunately, our managed back-up & DR services are seamlessly integrated into our IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) platform, which also functions as the backbone of our virtual data centre solutions. This meant that adding enterprise-class disaster recovery to White & Sons’ new IT infrastructure was incredibly simple and completely straightforward.
As with all cloud or hosted services, the final piece of the jigsaw was the provision of a robust connectivity solution to ensure that the company’s 70 extremely busy staff across 5 offices could receive a consistent, high quality user experience at all times. Internet connectivity was improved at all sites, and a multi-site MPLS network was deployed with traffic separated using physical VLANS for optimal performance.
The entire transition project, including the core infrastructure & all services, was a great success and White & Sons were delighted with the outcome. They experienced almost no downtime as most of the work was conducted outside of business hours, and the new solution has resolved all of the technical and operational issues they were previously experiencing.
The consolidation of suppliers to one single point of contact has freed up operational resources and made budgeting & forecasting far simpler for the management team. The switch to our virtual data centre solution, whereby all of the hardware is owned by Shift F7 has resulted in estimated capital expenditure & licensing savings of tens of thousands of pounds over the next few years. For a company with ambitious long-term growth plans this ability to not only reduce costs but accurately predict the cost of new office roll-outs are a huge advantage, and future expansion of the business can now be executed with greater confidence than ever.
IT performance across all departments at White & Sons has been transformed, with staff confidence in IT fully restored and individual & team productivity higher than ever. From a service relationship point of view, Shift F7’s industry-leading account management team continue to work closely with White & Sons’ Head of IT Andrew Farrant to ensure that their technology decisions are correctly aligned with their business strategy going forward, and we are delighted to play a role in their continued success.
"Selecting a long-term IT services partner is pretty much one of the most important decisions an independent business has to make. We knew where we wanted to be as a business, and it was critical to find a managed services provider who understood this and could help us to get there."