22 Jan How Axess Systems and Dell Technologies worked with finance solutions experts Shire Leasing to refresh their server
AN award-winning company which provides financing solutions to the UK’s diverse SME sector has stressed the importance of a regular server refresh for continued business success in 2021.
Tamworth-based Shire Leasing worked with Axess Systems – a Dell Technologies Gold Partner – to carry out an overview of their entire IT platform, monitoring its performance and analysing what they needed to move forward.
Today’s modern workloads – including artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics – require powerful servers that can easily handle such date-intensive IT demands.
A recent survey by market research company Forrester revealed companies that refresh servers every three years are better able to support both current and emerging high-performance workloads. It also revealed that these organisations gained a raft of significant business and technical benefits.
Of those who took part in the survey, 47% saw higher systems reliability with 39% seeing an improvement in application performance. There was an increase in employee productivity, too (42%) with 41% of those surveyed seeing a better data centre security.
Graham Coe, head of IT at Shire Leasing; an SME expert which helps clients to acquire vital equipment and assets – everything from IT and machinery all the way to livestock and vehicles – in order to grow, said: “IT is a core element in our business. Our executive team is willing to invest to ensure we are running to our full capability.
“We help other businesses to scale up their operation pain-free, so we needed to upgrade our IT infrastructure to ensure maximum expansion with minimal disruption.
“Axess Systems were very familiar with Shire Leasing’s business and IT set-up, having built our software and applications environment over a decade previously. They understood our requirements very well and we formed an excellent partnership.
“Without a doubt virtualisation is the way forward. There is really no reason not to virtualise. Our business continuity is undoubtedly enhanced, and we have greater flexibility and ease in expanding our systems as and when we choose. Our service levels are a lot higher and a more consolidated system makes it easier for our IT team to support.”
Upgrading to the latest generation of servers, such as Dell EMC PowerEdge, can deliver an enhanced automation, scalability and the security needed to increase agility, improve efficiency and reduce operational expenses.
Graham added: “Our existing hardware and segregated networks were reaching the end of their life and needed to be replaced. We also wanted to increase the storage capacity, performance and resilience of the infrastructure to ensure business continuity and simplify Disaster Recovery procedures.
“The scope of the project included our entire suite of Virtualisation and network hardware, upgrading VMWare and redesigning the networks to collapse them into one switch-controlled stack.
“In terms of capacity we wanted to scale up to give ourselves room for a five-year growth cycle. Our network now has 10x more capacity and we have 100 terabytes of raw storage.”
Axess Systems carried out an overview of the entire Shire Leasing IT platform, monitoring its performance and analysing what was needed to move forward.
“The solution Axess Systems proposed involved migrating our servers into a new virtual environment,” added Graham, “we also needed to halve our network cabling and port count. Axess Systems helped us do this through designing new switches for voice and data.
“Delivering multiple virtual networks over limited physical cables represented a complex challenge. The design and specification phase for this took 9-12 months, but for such a major change it was vital not to rush it.
“The actual installation and testing of all the new hardware took place over a single weekend. There was zero impact on the business and the platform was fully up and running on the Monday morning, with Axess Systems engineers on site just in case. It’s very pleasing that the users suffered no service disruption whatsoever.
“In terms of the network we are managing a phased transition to minimise disruption and are currently running our different configurations in parallel.
“Axess Systems’ status as a Dell Technologies Gold Partner served us well when we wished to add further storage. We were able to benefit from Axess Systems’ influence to negotiate an excellent price for a brand-new SAN, rather than pay over the odds for new shelves alone.
“The migration of physical machines onto a virtual environment gives us numerous technical and business benefits.
“Virtualised servers are easier to back-up, replicate and restore and they are no longer vulnerable to hardware failure. Where a physical machine fails the system might be offline for 30 seconds before a virtual server takes over. This massively minimises down-time and the risk of disruption.
“We are currently operating 80 servers on our virtual environment, using only 7U of rack space. This means that we are maximising our use of all the resources that we’ve paid for, reducing the cost of ownership – and we’re no longer dependent on a piece of tin!”
Will Lingard, director at Axess Systems, said: “Using virtualisation, sophisticated network design and a strong partnership with Dell we were able to deliver the solution for Shire Leasing which they were happy with, at a price they could trust.
“We are delighted that Dell have validated this implementation and we look forward to an on-going partnership with Shire Leasing.”
- Complete hardware, network, storage and switching refresh
- VMWare virtualisation to 80 server environments
- 200 users on Dell thin clients with CITRIX
- Segregated data, voice and virtual networks collapsed into single stack
- 9-12 months in design, installed in one weekend
Axess Systems is an award-winning IT company which specialises in providing IT leaders with services for virtualisation and digital infrastructure.
It has a head office in Derbyshire, in the Midlands and a regional office in Southampton but delivers its services across the UK and serves a diverse range of sectors including aerospace, automotive, building and construction, charity, transportation, professional services, retail, banking and finance, engineering, housing associations, emergency services, education and local government.
In addition to providing IT consultancy and support services, Axess Systems also provides managed cloud services which enable IT leaders to move or add to their digital infrastructure and are certified to ISO27001:2013.
The company was founded in November 2000 by Ed Morton, who later went on to be named SVC Individual of the Year in 2015.
Axess Systems is a Citrix Gold Solution Advisor, a Dell Technologies Gold Partner, a Veeam Silver Partner and a Microsoft Partner.
provide finance solutions to the UK’s diverse SME sector. Established in 1990, they have a UK office in Tamworth Staffordshire and were awarded Funding, Innovation and Service Excellence winners in 2017-2019.