Grant Property Solutions’ infrastructure was causing business disruptions and requiring time-consuming maintenance, but upgrading would require a large investment.
The company avoided significant capital costs by migrating to a NTT DATA cloud solution, saving IT time while offering more reliability and agility.
“Now we can open, move or close offices quickly and easily because our NTT DATA ITaaS solution frees us from being physically tied to any kind of location”.
Details matter at Grant Property Solutions, which manages more than 2,000 UK rental properties for many hundreds of investors. It has to keep up with property maintenance and more than 8,000 tenants — many moving in or out during any given week. Rents must be sent to owners without delay. Staff are always looking for new properties and investors with whom they can place them.
To do this, the Scottish company’s 100 employees need their IT applications and services available at all times. That’s especially true for over 20 associates who operate outside of its Edinburgh headquarters and three branch offices. When IT isn’t working, neither are they.
Unfortunately, downtime was increasingly frequent, according to IT Manager Cassidy Macfarlane. “Our servers were long since out of warranty and services failed at least twice a week, so our people would have to apologise to customers for unnecessary delays in service”, he recalls.
Macfarlane explored the cost of upgrading the headquarters server room with new equipment and found the investment would require a lot of capital — up to tens of thousands of pounds — and time. Since the IT team consists of only two members, he estimates it could take several weeks to fully commission the new servers and migrate all the company’s applications.
Had he taken that approach, Macfarlane would still have to run regular data backups, and then physically transport backup tapes to an offsite location for safekeeping in case disaster recovery was needed. “This process alone, including drive time, took me two hours a week”, he says.
As a long-time Microsoft customer, Macfarlane knew about its Azure cloud platform. He contacted the company directly to learn more specifics and how he could use it in lieu of upgrading his legacy servers. “Microsoft referred us to NTT DATA, one of its Azure cloud partners and our preferred supplier of user desktops, which turned out to be a good move”, he says.
“Being the relatively small players in the technology market that we are, I don’t know that we’d get the attention we need from such a large company as Microsoft, but NTT DATA is different. The support I’ve had from them over the years has always been great”.
With the NTT DATA Cloud on Demand with Microsoft Azure solution, Macfarlane got NTT DATA’s help to build an IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) platform. He set up five virtual machines hosting Windows Server 2012. On top of these, he implemented Active Directory and Remote App deployments, print server management, and other 2012 features. One of the Azure virtual machines hosts SQL Server, required for his company’s core SAGE accounting software and other SQL-based applications. In addition, he acquired 200 GB of Azure Backup Services.
Cutting over to the Azure platform was painless. “When our Azure virtual servers were ready, we created our domain, logged on a few test users and were good to go”, he says. “NTT DATA Cloud Services helped make it easy.
The move to Azure also helped Macfarlane simplify the company’s business processes and supporting IT operations. Plus, he gained the flexibility to align IT resources with seasonal demands. “In migrating to Azure, we reviewed our key business processes, streamlining them where possible, which helped reduce our IT burden”, he says. “We have lots of tenants who are students, so we can add CPU power and other resources when our IT utilisation peaks during the autumn move-in season and reduce it during holidays, when usage drops naturally”.
Macfarlane’s business process review is the kind of strategic work he’s able to do more of with his day-to-day time savings. The NTT DATA Cloud Services with Microsoft Azure solution has also reduced both security and disaster-recovery risks. “Having our data backed up and secured by Microsoft is a big improvement over doing it ourselves”, he says.
Today, Grant Property Solutions is well positioned for the future, especially for anticipated growth. “Now we can open or move offices quickly and easily because our NTT DATA Cloud Services ITaaS solution frees us from being physically tied to any kind of location”, Macfarlane says. “We have lots more flexibility and scalability to meet our future business demands”.*
*This case study was originally written by Dell Services, which has become NTT DATA Services as of November 2016.