Established in 1983, Aston Manor Brewery is the UK's largest independent producer of own brand and labelled cider products for superstores and wholesalers. The business employs 185 staff based in Birmingham and Devon, using 60 laptops, PCs and accessing five servers.
The Challenge - 24/7 IT support
With the company forecasted to grow significantly and its IT Manager moving on, Financial Director James Ellis recognised the business needed a 24/7 IT support function that could do the job of an IT department at a better rate than the outgoing manager.
He also acknowledged that a complete network appraisal was needed to address business continuity, efficiency and future-proofing the IT infrastructure to match growth aspirations.
Probrand, proposed a fully managed support service including:
- A fully managed IT support facility that uses a proprietary application to spot IT issues before they impact upon business, enabling technical engineers to proactively deliver maintenance
- Cloud Antivirus – Fully automated and proactive patch management delivered by Probrand's proprietary application
- Cloud Disaster Recovery – a simple, cost-effective and non-intrusive approach to business continuity takes server and data snapshots, which are stored on remote storage vaults in Birmingham and Manchester
- One engineer day on site per week to maintain the network
- Business hours call out and online issue logging
- Managed firewall, routing and remote access
Probrand also implemented a fully re-configured and integrated network across Aston Manor's two-sites, including new Ethernet and fibre cabling across offices and production plant. The cabling was rationalised and housed more efficiently in an easily accessible and safe comms cabinet at both locations.
New hardware was installed including HP (ML350) rack-mounted servers and re-configured gigabit switching to radically improve network speed and communication quality.
James Ellis said: "Probrand's approach is delivering a better maintained and optimised system that has improved staff productivity and laid solid foundations for growth.
"Fundamentally, with Probrand we have been able to reduce and control our IT overhead more efficiently, eliminate unnecessary downtime, maximise our IT estate and reduce cost of ownership.
"This is the first time we have used an outsourced and scaleable IT support function and it is the best decision we could have made given our growth forecast.
"We have a dedicated and extremely knowledgeable technical account team that truly understands our business and how it needs to operate. The Probrand IT Services team supports us as an IT department should but without holidays or sick days becoming an issue – they are ever-present.
"If there are any issues with the network, we simply log them online for Probrand engineers to fix remotely. Often problems are rectified before we even know they exist and Probrand's cloud Anti-Virus service totally automates security and compliance. Finally, IT has become a business enabler rather than a daily distraction.
"Probrand has been extremely flexible with our account and whilst our SLA states a minimum wait of 4 hours on call-outs, the team goes beyond the call of duty to help in special circumstances. For example, if we have contractors on site who need information straight away, Probrand responds appropriately.
"Probrand is an extension to our business and operates with the attention to detail and professionalism we would expect of our own employees.
"Disaster Recovery isn't an option for us, it's a necessity! With Probrand's cloud disaster recovery, updated data and server snapshots are taken daily and stored remotely. This is critical for servers handling our filtration and production systems. Our recovery time is fast and this has improved business continuity, which in turn protects our profits.
"With our managed VPN, firewall and routing solution we have unlocked workforce capability. The remote access functionality is helping employees operate seamlessly from their desktop even if they are out of the office.
"We have also unlocked the ability to more easily control which users access the internet, when and for how long; again, opening the door for increased productivity. We get a full management report every month with a complete break-down that makes employee activity transparent, allowing us to make better business decisions faster.
"As Financial Director I now have peace of mind that the cost-burden and operational overhead of IT has been reduced and brought under control. Fixed IT overheads now mean we can plan and forecast more effectively. We get the creative, proactive approach of a full IT department without the cost. This means we can focus our efforts more strategically on growth knowing that our IT system will support us all the way."