Stiles Harold Williams

Fifosys improved reliability, performance, scalability and security by helping SHW relocate to a data centre.

Our Client

Stiles Harold Williams (SHW) are an independent property advisory business specialising in commercial and residential property. SHW have 8 sites across the south of England with the majority of their IT infrastructure residing in their Brighton head-office. 

SHW began working with Fifosys in May 2016 and the first order of business was to help them improve the reliability, performance and scalability of their core IT systems. This case-study focuses on the relocation of their core IT systems from head-office to a secure, co-location data centre.

The Challenge

In order to give maximum mobility to their 250+ user environment whilst still maintaining strict security, SHW use a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) for delivering a Windows desktop to their staff. Historically, this had been located in the Brighton head-office but this had many issues and risks including:

  • Power Redundancy Limitations
  • Limited UPS and no generator - This meant extended power outages led to system downtime
  • Limited and ageing cabling
  • Lack of 10Gb Networking
  • Lack of adequate internet line redundancy available in the area - Although SHW had multiple internet lines they still fed back to a local exchange
  • The Brighton office is above another commercial premises - this increased the risk of other localised disasters
  • Lack of adiquate HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning)

The result of these limitations was a greater risk of outages and longer downtime.

We were extremely concerned about our redundancy and resilience. We believed considerable investment was required to ensure a secure and reliant system with sufficient contingencies and continuity.

Carol Williams, ICT Partner, SHW

The Solution

Fifosys reviewed the available options for mitigating the risks and concluded that the most effective way to remove the risks was to move to a data-centre where these facilities are provided as standard. To implement the same level of service from the head-office would have been prohibitively expensive.

This was a major change for both the business and the end-users so Fifosys worked closely at all levels with them to ensure it went smoothly.

Based on SHW's requirements, Fifosys implemented a project with the following components:

Project Planning

  • Provide project proposal with cost breakdown and appropriate business drivers
  • Provide project management for all parties
  • Budget management
  • Negotiate 3rd party and data-centre contracts
  • Management consultation and communication
  • Creating of testing schedule and sign-off criteria

Project Implementation

  • Multi-discipline project engineers
  • Documentation of existing systems
  • Backup of all data and system configurations
  • Physical installation of new hardware in data centre
  • Configuration of networking between new data centre and other SHW sites
  • Configuration of firewalls
  • Configuration of server systems
  • Configuration of SAN storage systems
  • Client workstation and laptop reconfiguration
  • System testing
  • Assistance in end-user testing
  • On-site user support on go-live day

Fifosys led us through the evaluation process to help us identify the risks and understand the implications of the various options open to us, offering us several alternative solutions and budgetary costs. Our concerns were no redundant power, connectivity, few contingency plans, poor security and high risk. The preferred solution comprehensively addressed our concerns and gives us confidence in our systems.

Carol Williams, ICT Partner, SHW

The Benefits

Some of the main benefits to SHW from our solution include:

  • Improved Performance - This means faster access to VDI platform for all staff and has resulted in greater user productivity and overall satisfaction
  • Improved scalability - SHW are a fast growing company and can now grow their platform in a linear fasion as required without huge capital expenditure each time
  • Improve resilience: Fifosys can now guarantee SHW a high-availability solution with multiple, high bandwidth leased lines into the data centre, multiple power supplies and failover redundancy of the hardware

The entire project was well planned and went incredibly smoothly. Our entire centralised infrastructure was moved to a secure data centre over a single weekend with little disruption to users. Fifosys identified numerous potential risks with the move and prepared with intelligent contingency plans. Fortunately, they weren't needed! Fifosys ensured a potentially high risk move was executed to plan with little need for assistance from us.

Carol Williams, ICT Partner, SHW

James Moss

Technical Director

James Moss