As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, if your company is looking for ways to enhance IT capabilities and efficiencies by migrating to a cloud-based infrastructure, you’re best served by looking for a solutions provider instead of an IT company that simply sells products. The real advantage of the cloud is that it is not a product; it’s a flexible and scalable platform that can be customized as a solution to match specific business needs and objectives.
Last month, I shared sort of a mini case study as an example of how cloud-based solutions can be molded to support the needs of a large-scale builder. In this article, I’ll use a similar format to share how a solutions-based approach was leveraged to develop a tailored IT operation for one of our financial services clients – let’s call them FSC (for Financial Services Company).
FSC came to us after experiencing consistent problems with its computer and phone systems – issues that were having a direct, negative impact on productivity and profitability. The first step was a discovery meeting to understand FSC’s needs and expectations, and to determine the problems in the current system that were keeping the organization from achieving its goals. Here’s what we found out about the existing system …
FSC was housing all of its servers on site and outsourcing their management to an IT company. Whenever FSC wanted to integrate a new application or any type of software, the software company would provide the specs and requirements, which FSC would relay to the IT company. The IT company would install new applications without looking at the system holistically, which resulted in a system that was pieced together. FSC was also paying for backup services, but didn’t fully understand what it was getting. When FSC started having server issues and crashes, it found out that certain data was not being backed up. Furthermore, email was being handled on site and had multiple limitations, including incompatibility with certain applications, storage capacity, functionality and device synchronization. FSC’s Internet was supported by a T1 server, was lacking bandwidth, and ran far too slowly for its needs. Its remote access was greatly limited and provided a slow, simplified, partial version of the in-office user experience. As problems began occurring more frequently, FSC had trouble determining whom to call. Its IT provider would only address server issues (and usually not right away). FSC’s administrative staff was forced to deal with a different provider for:
- The servers
- Each individual software application
- Internet service
- Phone service
- Phone hardware
If one application affected the performance of others, there were gaps of time where productivity halted while various providers argued over which one was responsible for the problems. FSC even received individual bills from its providers, which took up more of the administrative staff’s time and resources. The obvious overarching problem was that FSC had nobody looking at the big picture. Instead of benefiting from forward thinking about an integrated system, it was experiencing the inevitable outcome of a series of one-off fixes that were breaking down over time.
FSC’s desired changes were pretty straightforward. The organization wanted its IT system to be more efficient, more reliable, easier to manage and mobile so its employees could work from anywhere. FSC also is in growth mode, so it wanted scalability to allow the system to easily expand.
Working with FSC, we developed a comprehensive plan. The plan was designed to implement various solutions in progressive stages based on priority and budget considerations. CloudWyze took ownership of the entire IT operation. The first step was to acquire a list of all providers that were involved with FSC’s overall IT system. We reached out to every vendor and application provider to create transparency and awareness through open lines of communication. Then we built a platform combining and integrating the various applications at a single off-site data center.
One of FSC’s concerns, and it’s a common one, is that “the cloud” lacked security, which for a financial institution is absolutely critical. We explained to risk management and security personnel that our data center platform was not only secure, but it was far more secure than the existing setup. FSC was a small shop and its data security was managed in different places. With our new system, employees work from virtual desktops and security is handled on a per-session basis. Each time an employee signs on, layers of security encryption are instantly created at the data center.
FSC also had some employees using Macs and others using PCs. Because the data center is agnostic, it didn’t matter. Designers using Macs can still access Windows. In a virtual desktop environment, all applications are located at the data center and any employee can access any application from any computer, laptop, tablet or device.
The next improvement was to provide FSC with dedicated Internet, which employees accessed through the data center. This offered each user much more bandwidth at a fraction of the cost.
For FSC, its email network was mission-critical. Now that its email was managed outside of its infrastructure, any problems with a software application would not affect the email system.
The new system’s scalability easily accommodated FSC’s growth. If the organization wanted to add a new location, all it needed was a quality Internet connection to connect with the data center. With a single phone call, we could have the new location up and running in minutes.
Having virtual desktops provided a new level of mobility without sacrificing security. Now employees could work more flexible hours from any location with Internet availability. Employees could, for example, pick up their kids from school and finish their workday from home by accessing the same desktop and applications they used in the office. Needless to say, this flexibility improved employee satisfaction, retention and productivity.
FSC has customers outside of Wilmington that don’t care about the fact that we live in hurricane alley. FSC’s new system also includes a backup system that backs up its entire system, including data and all applications. This level of backup ensures business continuity, which is another critical aspect of a financial institution’s business.
Reliability, scalability, flexibility, mobility, productivity, security – today FSC understands the advantages of a cloud-based, solution-driven IT operation. If you’d like to find out how your business could benefit from a similar approach, give us call.
Shaun Olsen is the CEO and President of CloudWyze. CloudWyze was created to help businesses focus and perform at their optimal level by crafting and executing custom technology plans for businesses of every type and size. To learn more about CloudWyze, visit www.cloudwyze.com. Shaun can be reached at [email protected] or 910-795-1000.