John Macdonald-Brown – Managing Director, Syzygy: We are an award-winning energy consultancy specialising in the renewables and carbon-free markets. We’re headquartered in London Bridge and have offices in Germany, Poland and New York. We’d been using the same local London support provider for years, and to be fair to them they’d done nothing wrong. They’d always been reliable and professional but, as happens to so many companies like ours that experience substantial growth, we’d reached a point where they weren’t really able to provide what we needed to step up a level. We’d gone from eight to thirty members of staff in a few years so although they were really good guys we had quite simply outgrown them.
We’d met with a few companies but for whatever reason we didn’t quite click with any of them. Then someone recommended we speak to Intalex and it just felt like we were on the same page from day one.
James Hunter-Paterson – Managing Director, Intalex:
As John said, the company they were working with was great at the basic break/fix stuff, but weren’t really very strategic or pro-active. That’s fine when you’ve just got a few people in your team but once you reach a certain size, particularly in a technology-reliant industry like energy, then not having proper solutions, policies and roadmaps in place is likely to leave you off the pace of your competitors.
John: We needed someone who could help us navigate the cloud, advise us on the best solution for us and then put it in place and help manage it. We knew that there were cloud-based technologies that could help us work smarter and faster but we had no idea which ones were best for us or how to integrate them into a fully-integrated infrastructure that incorporated all areas of the business.
On top of that, in order to ensure we never found ourselves behind the curve again, we also asked James to deliver a 5 year IT strategy which would help us plan for future growth in a more structured, scalable way.
James: Cloud strategy was a key factor for John and his team, particularly around security, collaboration tools and future-proofing their IT investment. There were also issues with the network, which was unreliable and poorly configured, as well as the office Wi-Fi which was patchy at best. Staff at the London HQ would often work late nights on projects with colleagues across the world, and an outage or any minor IT glitch could completely derail them as there was only support available during core office hours.
There was some DR in place but it wasn’t really fit for purpose. Data and systems were backed-up but infrequently, inconsistently and with no real structure or process, so that was also something Syzygy asked us to resolve as part of the overhaul.
John: From our perspective, the process was very impressive. James and the guys kept us completely in the loop throughout, explaining certain decisions, options and challenges clearly but without bogging us down with too much technical jargon. That gave us a lot of confidence that we had backed the right horse, which in turn made us more comfortable in stepping back and letting them get on with it.
James: Just to pick up on what John said there – I think that sort of process-signposting is really important. Of course there needs to be a balance between information-sharing and information overload, but we always try to make sure that we are totally transparent with people who are, let’s face it, placing a huge amount of trust in us being able to deliver what we say we can.
In this case, it meant us working with John and other key people from across the business to understand what each area needed and then knit a seamless solution together using optimally-compatible components. We then put a testbed solution in place and stress-tested it with members of the team before deploying in a live production environment.
John: Ha! We literally hired Intalex because we don’t have the in-house knowledge so I’m going to sit this bit out. I will say that we are really pleased with every aspect of what Intalex have done and it has made doing what we do so much easier to do well. And that’s across the whole business.
James: Well, the first thing we did was to put some basic remote monitoring in place and mapped the existing network so that we could provide 24/7 user support from day one. We then scoped and built the new network, boosted the London Wi-Fi and began migrating file data to Office 365 for greater stability and consistency of user experience. We used Datto kit to put proper, structured back-up and DR in place for the on-site servers and decommissioned the previous solution.
Once this was all in place and tested, we deployed a suite of integrated security tools, including vulnerability scanning, anti-virus, managed DNS and so on. As John said earlier, being able to have the London team collaborate in real-time with colleagues in Europe or the States was something they really needed, so we used a combination of Ringcentral and Zoom to put a light-touch, cloud-based Unified Communications platform together. These dovetail seamlessly with Office 365 which was key, and obviously since the overall solution was cloud-based then there was no upfront capex to worry about.
John: Well, obviously we’re delighted otherwise we wouldn’t be sitting here! In all seriousness, it’s had such a positive impact on the business in terms of stability, productivity, flexibility, cost, morale…the list goes on. The network and Wi-Fi have had zero drop-outs or performance issues, everyone loves the responsive support and having a proper DR solution in place gives me and the management team peace of mind that if anything major occured we can be back up and running in under an hour.
The Unified Comms platform has been a revelation and I wish we’d done it years ago, to be honest. It’s slashed our conference call costs and meant we can collaborate with each other, clients and other partners pretty much effortlessly, which, as positive impacts go, is absolutely at the heart of what we do.
James: There’s always the discussion, scoping, planning and testing phases at first and those are clearly important, but we get a huge kick out of those first few days when a customer’s new solution goes live and the positive feedback starts rolling in. Those are probably the best days to be in this business, and it also helps when you’re working with people that are interested, engaged and excited about what you’re doing for them.
We’ve already begun looking into further improvements now that Syzygy has a stable, effective platform, such as taking the on-site file server out of commission and migrating to Azure for Active Directory and Microsoft Intune. It’s a great relationship and we’re delighted to be working with John and the team for the forseeable future.