From Crisis to Champions

When Queensland print communications company Fergies faced a major system failure, they turned to Truis for urgent help. What started as a crisis for the business ended up strengthening the company, making it more competitive.

The situation

There is never a good time to face a major system failure, but heading into a public holiday weekend made the situation all the more challenging.

“Our production server failed catastrophically,” explained Josh Wright, Fergies IT Manager.

Fergies had an external provider, but, as Wright discovered on the Queen’s Birthday weekend, backups were not working. For the business, this meant significant interruption.

“When the servers are not working, we can’t process jobs. If those jobs are not delivered on time, customers can easily go elsewhere,” said Wright.

Wright uncovered a number of servers in what he describes as various states of decay. With help not forthcoming, Wright took the step of looking beyond the previous managed services partner, and sought urgent help from Truis.

“We had backups of primary servers, but recovering that was hit and miss. All of the servers were running old operating systems, Server 2003 or older, and that made us vulnerable,” said Wright. “Of the eight different servers, some had backups not working, and the service provider was not testing them.”

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Truis are very knowledgeable, always willing to help, and I always got an honest answer to my questions.

Bill Campbell | CEO | Fergies

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The solution

The first priority was to get Fergies’ systems operational, so that the business could continue its primary function of serving customers.

“Truis provided us with a temporary server to get us out of trouble. They made sure we had an email system and could serve our customers,” said Wright.

Once the immediate crisis was under control, Truis set about working with Wright to determine how the business could move forward. Wright worked with the traditional business to uncover opportunities that would not only maintain services, but also offer customers a more modern approach.

“First, we needed to virtualise our environment, both for simplicity and for the cost benefits,” said Wright.

The solution incorporated two Lenovo System X3650M4 production servers and a disaster recovery (DR) server, along with Lenovo’s V3700 StorWize storage option. The hardware was chosen for its ease of integration, along with benchmark-topping reliability and performance.

An important recommendation was the introduction of Veeam Backup and Replication. This enables Fergies to very quickly recover virtualised applications and data, without their business losing valuable operation time.

“We needed a cultural shift that planned obsolescence, to prevent future problems,” said Wright.

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Veeam gave us the flexibility for offsite backup, away from the customer environment.

Josh Wright | IT Manager | Fergies

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The outcome

Ultimately, with a renewed investment in technology, the business sought returns in improved services as well as reduced costs. The Truis solution delivered on both counts. The solid foundations have allowed Wright to streamline workflow, thanks to a far greater visibility of all aspects of the business.

“We have focused on automation and process improvement in the company, and are now looking more profitable as a result,” said Wright. “We have better visibility of what we are doing, and can identify areas for improvement.”

The business now has a web portal and is rolling out a digital store presence, meaning that customers can build jobs on the Fergies platform, 24/7.

“Our customers can now see and order stock live. They can build their jobs on our platform. This enhances our customer engagement,” said Wright.

The stable core systems that Fergies invested in reduces the risk to the business for Fergies. Virtualisation and the easier management of the Veeam and Lenovo combination mean that Fergies save the cost of their previous managed services contract.

“Day-to-day it is fairly pain-free, and things just work,” said Wright.

The flexibility provided by Veeam’s solutions makes offsite backup a breeze, says Wright, who has implemented regular tests to ensure the business can face future challenges with confidence. In the event that systems cannot be restored in minutes, the business can switch to the DR system and continue, without interruption to customers or operations, allowing for high availability.

Importantly, Fergies can now be proactive in maintaining systems and streamlining processes. Wright can manage infrastructure in less than a third of his time, meaning he can focus on further process improvements within the company. Not only does the business avoid the significant cost of downtime, with more than sixty people unable to perform their tasks, but Wright is able to develop the customer-facing systems that now make Fergies a technology leader in their industry.

“Customer feedback has been positive,” concluded Wright.

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We are no longer throwing money at getting daily help because we don’t need it. Things just work.

Josh Wright | IT Manager | Fergies

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