This article first appeared in the Autumn 2017 issue of The Record.
SAS International, the British manufacturer of metal ceilings and architectural metalwork, has built up an enviable reputation in its industry, having carried out installations in iconic buildings worldwide including Gatwick Airport and Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.
The company has a highly diverse IT environment and operates many bespoke systems that are specific to the industrial sector. Historically, many systems were hosted on site on ageing servers and with poor connectivity. Reliability and performance were lacking.
Recognising the problem, SAS International turned to GCI for help, who quickly identified that a key issue was the underlying connectivity. GCI advised that before any
transformational journey could begin it had to boost bandwidth and reliability. Therefore, it immediately upgraded the wide area network (WAN), putting in place 200MB circuits at most sites and 100MB bearers at all others. This not only improved reliability but it enabled many core systems to be hosted via a private cloud in GCI’s data centre.
“This gave us full failover, backup and business continuity,” said James Greene, Group IT manager at SAS. “It also meant that we didn’t have to manage the hypervisors associated with some of our virtualised systems. We have a lean IT team, so taking this responsibility out of our hands and giving it to GCI resolved a huge headache. We also found it to be much more cost-effective.”
GCI also helped SAS further embrace cloud adoption by moving its productivity suite to Microsoft Office 365. “With GCI’s help, we have delivered a step change. From having zero systems in the cloud just three years ago, around 90% are now cloud-based,” Greene says.
The benefits have been immediate. “From two to three outages a day we now have 99.9% uptime thanks to GCI,” Greene says. “We have a lot of faith in our systems being in their hands; if there are any issues then they get fixed quickly. GCI has a very fast escalation process and gives us 24/7 coverage, and it’s a weight off our minds knowing they are there and taking responsibility for our systems.”
SAS has further plans to keep innovating. “Our communications services are critical, but only around 50% are currently hosted in the cloud,” says Greene. “We will be looking to move this fully to the cloud and implement solutions such as unified communications.”
“Finally, there is GDPR. Like every other organisation across the EU, GDPR compliance is a key project that we need to get right; it is our responsibility to ensure that we are secure and that our contracts are documented and detailed, and a ‘cloud first’ strategy undoubtedly makes this easier. Thanks to GCI we are now future-proofed against further business and regulatory compliance requirements.”
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