Enabling Collaboration Across Five Offices With Panzura’s Global File System
“We rely on Excitech to keep us
informed of the bigger picture in
technology. Their experience allows
them to not only keep our business
efficient, but to anticipate our
requirements into the future.”
Laura Mansel-Thomas, Partner, Ingleton Wood LLP
Meet Ingleton Wood
Specialists in architectural design, building surveying, building services engineering, interior design, planning and sustainability, Ingleton Wood is based across five offices: Billericay, Cambridge, Colchester, London, and Norwich. Dating back to the 1930s, Ingleton Wood offers construction and property consultancy across a wide range of disciplines and prides itself on being one of a few medium-sized consultancies offering integrated design and technical expertise.
Its projects range from large-scale new build and refurbishment projects to smaller value design and construction work; adding value at every stage of development, from initial survey and concept planning through to the design, engineering and fit-out of interior spaces. The wide range of sectors in which Ingleton Wood works includes commercial and industrial, conservation, defence, education, health, leisure and retail, residential, and social and community. The business is growing rapidly and looks to use the latest technology to enable it to respond to fresh business challenges, protect its data, and equip its teams with the right tools to drive continuous process improvement and collaboration.
The Challenge - Making the Most of Every Individual’s Skills and Contribution
“Through the combination of a strong talented team, and a high level of client loyalty, our business has grown continually over the last 5 years,” explains Laura Mansel-Thomas, a partner at Ingleton Wood.
“To support a growing client list and the expanding complexity of project types, it’s imperative that we
embrace the best and most appropriate technologies. It’s the only way to streamline processes and make it easy for diverse geographical locations to work in harmony.”
“Collaboration is important for efficient outcomes. It’s just as important to give our people the most advanced tools for the job, both from a capability point of view and for motivation of highly experienced individuals.”
Legacy Kit Drives Legacy Thinking
As businesses grow, they often find that systems that were once entirely aligned to their operational needs, are not necessarily robust enough for modern practices. Retaining legacy technologies and systems can sometimes restrain efficiencies. Processes that should be simple can take up time and increase costs; the downloading of big files, for example, can tie up resources that would be far better employed on more productive tasks.
Ingleton Wood had long worked with Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices in each of its offices in conjunction with a centralised cloud backup service. This was a solution that had once been right for the business, particularly as each location served a distinct client base within a certain geographic reach. The perspective changed with growth, as this localised approach and focus began to take on the semblance of siloed operations; multiple ‘islands’ of storage with no functional connection between them.
There was a considerable amount of data duplication occurring primarily because every location was effectively storing everything. Data duplication, and even holding duplicate versions of the same file (albeit possibly at different stages of its progress), created blockages in the system, and occasionally confusion, especially when individual offices retained their own data for no other reason than they lacked the means to gain a single view and to share workloads.
Ingleton Wood had reached a turning point in its size, scope and workloads. As Mansel-Thomas says: “We needed the technology, the strategy, and the solution that could comprehensively address new needs and support the business on the next leg of its growth. Ingleton Wood identified two predominant needs in revisiting its IT strategy:
• Smarter working practices: Ingleton Wood’s teams needed to collaborate in real-time, to share information, workloads, and documents, and to know that any version worked on was always the latest version, regardless of who else may have last used it or where they were working when they did.
• Robust and reliable backup: The firm also wanted greater confidence in backup and disaster recovery procedures across the entire IT estate; not with a local focus but with a universal and consistent capability to ensure all offices were on the same page at the same time, through the same system.
Using NAS drives also had the drawback that Ingleton Wood had no Windows domain. This meant it was unable to benefit from central administration for data security and Active Directory. These various related factors came together at the same time to convince Ingleton Wood that they needed a fresh approach to data management – efficient storage, faster retrieval, sharing, and collaboration – a single view for all team members across all the company’s information assets.
Ingleton Wood wanted a solution that would provide resilient and robust backup, and reliable disaster recovery protocols and capabilities.
“We believed it would simply be a case of implementation of Microsoft Windows Servers for each office, to replace the NAS set-ups. We asked Excitech for guidance on how to do this. The solution they proposed was far wider ranging than we had imagined we could achieve.”
The Solution – Excitech Enables Continuous Process Improvement and Smarter Data Storage
Excitech and Ingleton Wood worked closely in partnership, with Excitech offering ongoing strategic and proactive technology consultancy. Ingleton Wood’s catalogue of requirements, centring on the ability to treat numerous locations as one entity, with one single view of its data, and a more reliable and cost-effective ‘backbone’ for the IT of the business, pointed in the direction of a hybrid cloud solution.
More specifically, the company’s requirements pointed to a solution proven to reduce storage requirements with data deduplication services capable of significantly reducing data transfer times when working across wide area networks. To address this, Excitech recommended Panzura.
Getting Each Location Ready for the Future
Panzura offers a Global Cloud Storage System and a Global File System. It consolidates islands of storage across sites into a central cloud, with inherent data protection and disaster recovery (DR) capabilities that allow Ingleton Wood to reduce the need for regular backups of data. In each of the five offices, Excitech installed Dell servers along with Microsoft Windows Server software to replace the legacy NAS devices, and a Panzura controller. It has streamlined backups enabling Ingleton Wood to considerably reduce its operating costs.
Managing the Transition From Old to New
To avoid any disruption to business as usual for Ingleton Wood, Excitech installed one location at a time, with any downtime requirements being performed out of hours or over a weekend.
At each site, Excitech also migrated the data from the old system to the new, deduplicating data in the process to give Ingleton Wood a clean, uniform dataset across the company as the basis for improved file-sharing and collaboration. The company now has a Windows domain and benefits from Active Directory.
In summing up the changes brought about through Panzura, Mansel-Thomas says:
“As a cloud-based system, Panzura gives us all the associated benefits of scalability and storage. Everything is now smoother and faster – storage, backup, one set of data, and less data overall – and we’ve gained agility across the company. Collaboration between our offices has improved immeasurably.”
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