Strachan Furniture Makers are a well-established business who design and manufacture bespoke fitted furniture. With approximately 70 employees the company operates from a factory/showroom based in Leeds. The company had been utilizing a Microsoft environment across the organization for a number of years.
In 2012 it was decided to upgrade this ageing infrastructure based on Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 to a more modern platform – Small Business Server 2012 so that the company would be more readily able to cope with changing economic and market conditions. “The system was becoming very slow and unreliable,” explained Kirsty Hepburn-Wood, IT administrator at Strachan. “So we knew we needed to upgrade it to support the business going forward.”
Strachan had partnered with Hicel for over 10 years and so they were the natural people to turn to deal with the upgrade. “We knew from past experience,” said Kirsty, “that any issue we had they would quickly explain it to us and sort it either remotely or by attending onsite. So we had no reservations in asking them to deal with this important project.” A key factor in this project was the need to minimize downtime across the company. As a result, it was decided to carry out a fresh installation to avoid the unforeseen problems that migration can bring. Initially, an audit of Strachan’s PCs was made so Hicel consultants could familiarize themselves with existing software and so successfully anticipate what reconfiguration would be needed.
This was particularly important for several factory PCs responsible for operating machinery and for the CAD and Account departments. Once this was completed, Hicel built the server, initially in their office to minimize disruption to Strachan. All mailboxes and data were then transferred to the new setup with a final append to the data made immediately prior to the actual swap. Additional work was also carried out to setup the Backup Exec software and configure a new SonicWALL Firewall to replace ISA Server 2004.
Migration to the new platform was then organized to start late afternoon and continue through the evening to ensure minimum disruption to Strachan’s day-to-day operations. The new server was first setup in-situ and an existing additional Windows 2008 server was transferred to the new domain. It was then possible to amend the applications and folder permissions as required as well as dealing with reconfiguring the printers.
Once this initial stage had been successfully completed a checklist was used to help in the task of removing all existing PCs from the old domain and adding them to the new. Finally, a new SonicWALL SSL VPN router was installed and an old SBS2003 server was rebuilt as a Windows 2003 server that would be used as a Terminal Server to facilitate access for remote workers.
A key objective of the switch over was for the users to be as unaware of the changes as much as possible. To ensure this was achieved, Hicel consultants stayed on site for the next few days after the switch to check that everything was working OK, answer any questions and perform adjustments to the new system where required. “Now that the upgrade is complete we have really noticed the difference,” said Kirsty. “Everything runs a lot faster, we have more storage and so are not continually running out of disk space and I have to spend much less time dealing with administration tasks as a result.”
Kirsty concluded, “Hicel were very thorough in their forward planning before they came to site. The upgrade went very smoothly with minimal disruption to the business. This experience has given us great peace of mind and assurance that they are well equipped to deal with any issue we may come across in subsequent years.”