Each year, our sister publication Computer Dealer News hosts the Channel Elite Awards to recognize IT Solution Provider for their innovation, leadership, and commitment for creating value for their customers. As Canada’s leading IT channel publication, CDN invited solution providers to submit their best work to nine different categories for 2013’s awards. Here, we present the case studies these award nominees put forward to us. Find out who the big winners are on Sept. 11 when CDN presents them at the CEA Awards Gala.

Learn more about CDN’s Channel Elite Awards 2013

Nominee: Itergy from Montreal, Quebec

Managed Services Solution description

Itergy offered its client, a specialized industrial manufacturer, a flexible and fine-tuned Managed Services support. The main purpose was to offer an SMB adapted service with level of Managed Services normally reserved for large companies to allow the customer to focus on its own business and not on IT issues. The support offered covered daily needs as well as long term projects, change management and infrastructure high level migration and evolution. Offering a custom approach to the client, Itergy’s managed service offering included different services such as: • proactive systems maintenance, • remote and on-site operational maintenance, • controlled automation of maintenance tasks, • monitoring of service and server infrastructure equipment (including all related services) desktop, • laptop preparation and support, • users’ creation, • configuration, • rights and access in a standard and documented manner, • IT inventory of hardware, • software, licenses , warranty and support contracts, • incident, problem and infrastructure health reports, • change and project management follow ups, • high-level recommendations on equipment, • services like security, network stability and redundancy, data protection, etc.

What makes your Managed Services innovative or original compared to the competition?

The service provided results from a combination of Itergy’s high level expertise and geographical situation. Itergy offers a variety of services adapted to SMB, but also a 24/7 availability of internal expertise. Specific actions (remote access cards, redundant network and electrical plug strategy and virtualization) were performed to allow remote actions even in case of hardware issues. IT managed services are obviously a highly competitive industry, which is why offering original and innovative services are key to success. This is why Itergy decided to adopt a proactive approach to differentiate itself from its competitors. This proactive approach enables Itergy to monitor the client’s infrastructure and resolve and even prevent any problems before the customer knows they exist. This allows customers to be worry free about their IT, and always have up and running infrastructure. This proactive approach reduces downtime, and increases security. Another original approach to Itergy’s managed service is that these service approaches usually do not include internal application support nor optimization. Steps were done to avoid a main productivity issue with one of the client’s servers, concerning two key line-of-business applications. There were corruption issues, space issues and an overall stability and access problem that was also creating a lot of downtime for these two applications. The physical server was in bad shape, the space allocated to the applications was insufficient and not expandable, and the accounting application was very sensitive to any network or server outage. To deal with these three sources of problems, Itergy virtualized this server, expanded allocated space, optimized SQL database management and put in place a list of simple and efficient recommendations for internal people as well as to IT staff, to avoid risks with the accounting system and a procedure was set in case of a server problems. Itergy also differentiates itself by installing a server and remote monitoring management platform for each customer. This enables Itergy to have instant access to the site, and monitor and manage everything related to the entire network (severs, workstations, laptops, tablets, phones, cellphones, etc.) This platform also offers many services so the customer can have an up-to-date and online situation of his network. Some of these services include an online helpdesk, a cloud service monitoring and management, mobile device management, and network audits. Our approach also becomes innovative because Itergy exploits LPI systems to maximize fetching results from this tool by using all applications while other companies may only be using one or two services from this platform. Our technicians are both specialists and generalists at the same time allowing customers to have many different points of reference and support. Usually companies will have a limited amount of specialists and it becomes difficult if they can’t answer certain questions. This is why Itergy made sure to have a team of employees that do specialize in certain subjects but that are also strong overall.

What were the benefits of your Managed Services Solution for your client and what evidence can you provide to show this?

This Managed Services allows the customer to focus on its internal business by delegating its infrastructure support and mid-long-termIT projects envisioning to a single point of reference: Itergy. The fixed monthly charge allows a predictable budget to be implemented for IT. Because this particular client was in constant-growth mode, simply providing evidence based on cost reduction or revenue/improvement in sales would not be representative. They quickly doubled their environment from 40 to 80 stations within a year and also added other services that drove service costs up. This, combined with other company factors, is why it is very hard for them or Itergy to provide measurable evidence. On the other hand, the client affirms that doing business with Itergy is more cost and time effective. Being a company in full expansion, Itergy also helped the client in planning, coordinating and supervising for its growth in a more systematic and business oriented way leaving them with no worries about their infrastructure, about missing space, needing more backup solutions, other technical aspects, and therefore allowing the customer to focus only on their primary goals. As a result, the client now benefits from a more cost- and time-effective service, functions better and therefore is more productive. Overall this allows the client to deliver a faster process and service, and improve sales and revenues. Finally, by reducing downtime, Itergy definitely was able to reduce the high cost associated with this issue. It not only includes loss of productivity and data (during downtime staff productivity is at an industry average of 56%*), or overtime costs but also loss of sales and customer satisfaction. As more than 70% of businesses have had some type of operations interruption in the past 5 years of which more than 80% which is caused by power station, hardware failure or network failure**, and at a cost of 40,000$/hr (SMB average) and an average of 14 hours of downtime a year (Gartner), having a reliable but most importantly proactive Solution provider like Itergy becomes crucial, cost effective and improves overall service delivery. When Itergy first encountered this particular client, the physical server was in bad shape, creating downtime of around 1 hour every 3-4 days, which is enormous. Today Itergy has since been able to reduce the client’s downtime to between 4 and 5 hours per year, thus increasing downtime efficiency to 99.95%. This is not only a tremendous step for the client, it also places them significantly under the industry average of 14 hours per year. With less downtime, the company is better positioned to focus on reducing costs and increasing revenues. The services Itergy provided increased the client’s efficiency in many ways. 1) The downtime and corruption issues have been set under control for the two above mentioned applications (Quickbooks and Spector360) 2) In 9 months, the overall health of the IT environment went from 47% efficiency to more than 75%, and has a goal to continuously improve their overall health. 3) As mentioned above, Itergy was able to discuss with the customers about the effects of the server on downtime and convince him to change it therefore reducing overall downtime from more than 15 hours a year to 4-5h hours a year. (99.95% downtime efficiency) 4) Improve time to response for different projects and service delivery. Furthermore, when Itergy arrived at the client site, they discovered many problems and unresolved issues that needed to be addressed that were automatically reducing the efficiency of the company. Each week Itergy needed to go onsite to stabilize the site. After only 4 months, Itergy only needed to visit the client once per month, and this visit is not to resolve issues but mainly to make sure that the site is under control. With its services Itergy highly increased the efficiency of the site. By reducing system downtime and data corruption, Itergy helped the client to not only be more efficient in terms of its productivity, enabling employees to spend time on strategic projects and reduce necessity to spend time on rebuilding lost data, but also more efficient in terms of cost, not spending budget or time (even overtime) on retrieving data or even losing revenues due to downtime. Finally, when a company is facing fast growth, efficiency can be taken over by an overwhelming number of tasks, issues, goals, and too little employees and time to perform adequately. Luckily Itergy was there to significantly help the customer in planning, coordinating and supervising for its growth. Itergy greatly improved the client’s efficiency in terms of time to response and timeframe. For example, a specific time to setting up new computer and servers were given and completely respected by Itergy allowing the customer to reduce original timeframes and be more organized, consistent and efficient with its time and budget. * “http://www.arcserve.com/us/lpg/~/media/Files/SupportingPieces/ARCserve/avoidable-cost-of-downtime-summary-phase-2.pdf” ** “http://i.zdnet.com/whitepapers/Forrester_Analyst_White_Paper_The_State_of_Enterprise.pdf” *** “http://www.evolven.com/blog/downtime-outages-and-failures-understanding-their-true-costs.html”

What are the main reasons that your Managed Services are better for the customer than an on-premises solution?

There are many reasons why Itergy’s managed service is better suited for customers than an on-premise solution. First, there is no need for customers to keep several technical people internally with high level expertise like Exchange, Sharepoint, Project Server, HyperV, therefore reducing staff and costs. Our rapidity and time of response, due to our proactivity and availability, and also our team allows us to surpass expectations. Itergy really differentiates itself by offering an exceptional and complete team of technicians that are specialist and generalist at the same time. This combined with a 24/7 availability allows the team to always have someone available for the customer. It also permits every issue to be dealt with efficiently and to escalate issues to the right person according to its importance. With Itergy, companies feels safe and under the hands a knowledgeable team. This allow the IT directors to concentrate on strategic project all while being assisted by Itergy. We offer simplicity and uniformity in all support requests. Because Managed service is our core business, we have to capacity to increase greatly efficiency of companies and decrease downtime. For example, the client was able to increase its efficiency in many ways as explained in question 3. On premise solutions often tend to delay projects, concentrating on more urgent problems and sometimes only patched solution leading to bigger problems and loss in productivity, efficiency, revenues, etc. With Itergy, because managed services is our core business and because we have to perform in order so stay the best, we can provide solutions and resolve problems completely from the source. We also do it faster. By reducing system downtime and data corruption, Itergy helped the client to not only be more efficient in terms of its productivity, enabling employees to spend time on strategic projects and reducing time spent rebuilding lost data, but also more efficient in terms of cost, not spending budget or time (even overtime) on retrieving data or even losing revenues due to downtime. Because we offer predictable monthly based costs to our customers, they can create a budget and not have to worry about unpredictable cost. When having an onsite service, companies have to deal with overtime costs if something out of the ordinary happens, cost of losing an employee, or hiring and training a new one, etc. On-site solutions are most of the time being reactive to issues that happen. This means that they will only see the problem once it’s happening, and at that time, productivity loss, and increased cost have already hit the company. Itergy’s proactive managed services can set us apart because we are monitoring in real-time and are always ahead of fixing and even predicting problem before they happen often without the customer ever knowing there was an issue. This definitely reduces downtime and other technical problems. Because of our high level of expertise we can see issues that onsite solutions might not be able to see or resolve. For example before Itergy came in the picture, this particular customer was facing many Internet losses due to outage because they could not understand the source of the problem. Being a region with frequent outages, this was affecting the customer’s delivery time. Itergy then realized that the reason behind the problem was that the UPS in which the equipment was plugged was too small. Itergy was able to fix this problem completely. This is one of the many issues Itergy was able to solve for its customers and that an onsite department couldn’t.

How did the Managed Service improve the customer’s ability to server its internal or external clients?

Being able to serve clients efficiently and in the best way possible should be one of the top priorities for a company. In today’s technological environment, many issues can hamper the time to respond and, consequently, competitiveness. Thanks to Itergy, the client was able to assure that their technologies would not interfere with this mission by stabilizing the infrastructure and therefore reducing the impact on production due to recurrent power outages. According to a study done by CA technologies, 50% of organizations revealed that IT outages can damage a company’s reputation, while 18% thought this would be ‘very damaging’. Also, 35% of company’s reported that Outages can harm customer loyalty*. Most importantly, since the client is located in a region where power outages are quite common, a more stable infrastructure is crucial. Before Itergy began working with this client, the Internet used to cut out after 10 minutes, leaving employees unable to respond to customer emails, orders, or other important tasks. The problem was that the client’s last service provider had failed to recognize that critical network equipment was plugged into an inadequately low-capacity UPS. Itergy transferred the equipment to a bigger UPS that allowed uninterrupted Internet service even during outages. By reducing downtime, Itergy definitely was able to increase productivity. Having a reliable but most importantly proactive solution provider like Itergy is crucial and improves overall service delivery. When Itergy first encountered APG-Neuro, the physical server was in bad shape creating downtime of around 1 hour every 3-4 days which is enormous. Today Itergy was able to reduce the client’s downtime to between 4 and 5 hours per year, thus increasing downtime efficiency to 99.95%.

*http://i.zdnet.com/whitepapers/Forrester_Analyst_White_Paper_The_State_of_Enterprise.pdf

How does the solution further your client’s green or environmentally friendly plans?

Today, the environment is an increasingly important subject for companies. Each company needs to align their processes to minimize environmental effects. Itergy has taken many steps to help our client become more “Green”. First, by virtualizing and optimizing existing hardware, Itergy allowed to host 3 servers on one physical server, with better power management automatically saving electricity and equipment. As well, the electrical service has some recurrent small issues. A better use of existing UPS batteries allowed to protect more equipment in a more efficient way. As a result, the impact in case of a widespread power outage is now minimize thanks to controlled power backup procedures that adapt depending on the duration of the outage. Remote access control cards have been added to servers to be able to remotely start up critical equipment remotely, avoiding the need to get someone to drive on-site. Finally, Itergy encourages the client to reuse stations and equipment that they already own instead of pushing them to buy only new equipment. This not only saves the client up-front costs, but it also reduces waste and encourages recycling.

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