Starting with the business not the IT
- Solution orientated approach
- Proactive account management
- Avoidance of redundant costs
- Disaster Recovery and resilience
- Increasing skill sets
With a turnover of £100 million per annum, Connect is the UK’s leading distributor of home appliance spare parts, consumables and accessories, selling through a variety of web portals such as www.eSpares.co.uk. Being an eCommerce company, Connect relies on its online systems to receive orders from, and communicate with, end users and engineers, which means there can be no disruption to the IT infrastructure.
The space race
In 2014, Connect’s storage unit was close to being full, which could have put online ordering in jeopardy. Other suppliers had recommended a standard storage unit, which in effect meant Connect would be buying a like-for-like replacement.
Connect weren’t actually looking for an IT consultant to advise on storage, but Neil Rogerson, Head of IT at Connect, was approached by a colleague who mentioned Commercial. “I was a bit sceptical at first,” explains Neil, “I get lots of phone calls every day from potential suppliers. But choosing to talk to Commercial turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Agreeing to meet them, Commercial came at the challenge from another angle, looking at consolidating the existing investment in IT and ensuring there was no redundant spend.
“It wasn’t a case of them asking us what we wanted to buy, more of them asking us what our strategy was, and what problems we wanted to solve. They came at it from a solutions driven approach.”
Commercial suggested a Nimble storage solution, which was not only flexible enough to meet the demands of over 600 people, but took into account the technologies that would be needed for Connect’s future DR and VDI strategies. Connect was Commercial’s first Nimble implementation, and as such it was a learning curve for both parties. “We were open and honest with Connect throughout the process,” says Stuart Colley, a Business Development Manager at Commercial. “We looked at a range of solutions and Nimble was the best fit, so we made sure our engineers were fully trained in the IT before implementation.”
Updating an existing system
Following the storage solution, Connect spoke to Commercial about their Disaster Recover requirements. Commercial recommended a solution which involved buying a second Nimble storage unit to leverage the ‘snapshot’ capabilities of the previous Nimble deployment to enable data replication between Connect’s two sites. This, combined with Veeam and Site Recovery Manager, reduced Connects RPO to minutes rather than days, and RTO to hours rather than weeks.
The delivery and installation service included training the Connect engineers, making sure Connect’s IT department was self-sufficient. “They basically let us do what we wanted to do, and helped us do the things we didn’t know how to do,” explains Neil. ”It’s been a very beneficial and educational relationship.”
Adding skills along the way
Commercial have since also been engaged by Connect to help them take better control of their network by the installation of internal Sophos firewalls. As before, Commercial has helped Connect make the right decision for the business by pre-sales consultancy aimed at identifying and understanding the problem before being offering a proposed solution. Each solution proposed by Commercial has been based on a business requirement, rather than a technical one, with Commercial engineers working to tight deadlines to complete the implementation on brief and on time.
“The skill levels of the engineers Commercial provided has been very, very high indeed. We have been consistently impressed by them,” adds Neil. One case in point was the replacement of switches connected to a blade chassis, where an initial investigation highlighted that the task would be less than straightforward. “They were there to solve the problems, not just sell kit,” states Neil. “They got involved and shared their knowledge, so they increased the skills of my guys too.”