Retrospective: Creating A Unique IT Model for a Local Business

Steve Ross

Written by Steve Ross

An historic, family-run company needed to upgrade its ageing servers to keep up with modern business-needs. Shackleton had the solution...

Since 1938, the Arbroath-based company has been producing and selling its products internationally, and today has the distinction of being the last producer of a famous local favourite. Their crafting methods date back hundreds of years, but the company's rich history and heritage is only one part of its on-going success story...

Today, IT is just as crucial to our clients business operation as the quality of the products it sells. Earlier in the year, the company's out-dated Windows 2003 servers were struggling with the demand created by 40 users and 35 email accounts (not to mention its online presence), and management realised it was time to upgrade. Shackleton was called to get the job done.

End Of Life Problems

Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 entered its end-of-life cycle back in 2010 - with extended support ending in July 2015. Before we could deliver an upgrade solution we needed to identify the problems the out-dated SBS2003 servers were causing:

  • Microsoft Office upgrades were being delayed.
  • Different versions of Microsoft Office (2007 and 2010), installed on employee desktops, were creating compatibility issues.
  • The client needed a hardware upgrade to keep pace with demand from internal and external users.
  • Previous backup and disaster recovery strategies to be compromised.

Delaying a server upgrade might work for a while, but as we've seen before, problems quickly mount. The clients reputation is well known, so any drop in quality or customer service would be noticed: communication problems, delayed or inaccurate orders, and exposure to cyber-threats can cause significant damage.

Making The Upgrade Work

Throughout the upgrade process, the company needed to be able to meet the level of customer expectation it had cultivated over so many years. As a local business, our client is ever popular thanks to decades of careful crafting - and we realised we'd need to put the same kind of thought into creating an upgrade solution which served their unique needs.

To minimise service disruption, we resolved to deploy the upgrade in stages - and outside business hours wherever possible...

The Plan:

  • We would upgrade IT infrastructure to Microsoft Server 2012 - with a combination deployment of physical and virtual servers.
  • The client wanted an on-premises LOB model to utilise the speed and security of their own hardware. We would work with the LOB application provider to ensure the deployment was robust enough to meet upgrade requirements.
  • We recommended moving the company’s numerous email accounts to Office 365. The move would bring dual benefits. Firstly, it would bring flexibility & reliability and, secondly, it would solve the Office compatibility problems by standardising documents to the Office 365 suite.
  • We devised a new business continuity plan, which could take advantage of the server upgrade to provide swift, effective recovery options.

 The stages of the server migration were threefold:

  • Stage 1: Employee email and Office applications, including employee tablets and mobile devices
  • Stage 2: Essential business data
  • Stage 3: Line Of Business Application

Preserving the Future

Beyond improvements to performance, the clients upgraded IT capabilities allowed us to implement a new business continuity solution, boosting the confidence of both customers and staff. The power of the Windows 2012 servers makes the company more resilient, efficient and flexible - able to respond to customer demand and grow to keep pace with competitors.

Creating and delivering the globally known products our client is famous for seems a million miles from a carefully coordinated IT deployment, but the behind-the-scenes work is a vital part of the process. By working so closely with the client, we got to understand the relationship it has with its customers - and tool the company's IT solution to its specific needs. 

 Does your company need an IT overhaul? Get in touch with Shackleton's experienced team below...

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