Note: This client wishes to have their company name remain confidential, so for the purpose of this posting, they will be known as “Company X.”
Provide a brief description of the Solution, Service Provided, or Initiative?
Company X is Canada’s leading owner, developer and operator of supermarket and drug store anchored neighborhood and community shopping centres, located predominantly in growing metropolitan areas. The company currently owns interests in over 170 properties and has a total enterprise value of $4.9 billion. Company X has been pursuing a fairly aggressive growth strategy over the past couple years (despite the economic downturn). In 2009, IT Weapons played a pivotal role in their expansion as Company X planned to expand very rapidly across the country; doubling their employee headcount from 150 to 300 before year-end and increasing the number of corporate sites (not managed properties) from 6 locations to over 20 locations in 6 provinces across Canada. IT Weapons has been helping to keep Company X’s IT systems running smoothly since 2005; when they operated with only 26 people. We earned their trust initially with some small project work and as they’ve grown significantly, they’ve increased their reliance on IT Weapons. As a testament to their trust in the skill and service of IT Weapons, we have been hosting, managing, and monitoring their IT systems (including storage, application delivery, messaging and collaboration tools, network devices) in our state-of-the-art Data Centre (DC) since 2007. With a deep familiarity of their business needs, their concerns, and budget, IT Weapons was in a unique position to move quickly and cost-effectively. In early 2009, our team went to work on designing a complete end-to-end solution for Company X’s rapid nationwide expansion. The solution had two broad components: the innovative end-to-end system architecture designed and implemented by our consulting team, and the fully managed services (including the entire DC infrastructure, networking environment, and Helpdesk support) that we now provide for all 300 Company X users across Canada. At the core of the system is the virtual server and storage environment operating in the IT Weapons DC. Our team was responsible for redesigning their existing environment to scale up seamlessly, eliminate single points of failure, and ensure that Company X could continue to grow without having to hire additional IT staff members or jeopardize service to their users. What is more, with the number of sites tripling to over 20 across the country, our networking team was now responsible for designing and deploying secure network connectivity from various locations across Canada back to the centralized resources in our DC. Since Company X was still planning to operate with an IT team of less than 10 people (4 of them application developers, rather than system administrators), their reliance on IT Weapons for the day-to-day management and support of their IT systems was increasing in criticality. We now provide 24/7 management coverage for over 80 physical and virtual servers which run their Microsoft Exchange environment, a corporate SharePoint system, an extensive Citrix XenApp farm for application delivery for most users, and a XenDesktop environment for special applications requiring Windows XP to run. On the storage side, to ensure no single point of failure, and to accommodate a steady long-term growth, we designed and deployed 5 SANs with over 50 Terabytes of storage. When it comes to secure network connectivity, we deployed fully redundant perimeter security devices, web filters, dozens of network switches and routers across the country and our ITIL certified Technical Support team provides comprehensive end user support for all 300 Company X employees. In the end, Company X’s IT team can focus on strategic planning and optimization projects, rather than troubleshooting their nationwide system.
Describe what makes this Solution, Service Provided, or Initiative original or innovative?
What is remarkable with the solution that we developed for Company X is how the IT system really allowed them to expand quickly and efficiently. We ensured that their centralized infrastructure could be scaled up and rolled out easily. As Company X acquired companies, each of their data and application suites needed to be integrated. They were converted and rolled out overnight with the Company X standard applications and infrastructure. The mergers and acquisitions group now looks at their IT as an enabler of their acquisition and expansion activities. This idea is in sharp contrast to the typical perception that IT is like a boat anchor slowing down their ability to integrate new acquisitions. The complete range of our technical expertise is illustrated in the ambitious expansion project for Company X. In order to accommodate Company X’s complex application, security, and storage demands, and to ensure they received a system that could scale for future growth, we integrated a wide range of hardware and software platforms that few-if any-other IT company’s in Canada have the experience or resources to design and support. We have over a decade of experience in server-centric computing and virtualization, we hold the highest levels of industry certification in every area of business IT, and-notably-we are one of only five Citrix Platinum Partners in Canada. At the Data Centre, in order to consolidate the server workloads and enhance fault tolerance and high-availability, we have deployed and now manage both VMware ESX and Citrix XenServer virtualization technology running on a mix of Microsoft Server and Linux based operating systems. With over 80 physical and virtual servers, we have demarcated production and development environments for their application development team, ensuring that test work is encapsulated to prevent instability in their production environment. We also host and maintain dedicated, isolated production and development servers for their SharePoint system, to ensure that new enhancements can be tested thoroughly before being brought into production. When it comes to data storage and backup technology, our DC team designed and manages a complex multi-tiered storage system for Company X, with 5 SANs offering over 120 Terabytes of fault-tolerant storage. As part of the Managed Services program designed for them, we also run a comprehensive schedule of backups and server replication tools; ensuring Company X’s data is secure. Our ITIL certified Technical Support team provides live 24/7 management and alerting for all their servers and key network devices. We operate a state-of-the-art Network Operations Centre (NOC) with a sophisticated service ticketing, alert and call tracking system. We have a certified Data Centre manager and our support team is backed by one of Canada’s leading IT consultancies for any escalation issues day or night. Since we are business-focused from the start, our clients find tremendous value from the comprehensive quarterly executive meetings we hold with Company X’s team. These meetings include a detailed analysis of activity, and provide consulting and pricing as necessary for upcoming budget forecasting. Company X’s team has access to a whole team of technology professionals with various skill sets and industry leading expertise. And because the IT Weapons team is 44 people strong, we are small enough to remain nimble and flexible when it comes to accommodating customer demands. The enterprise class resources we provide with a small agile team means that we can respond with the care and speed that no competitor in Canada in this space is able to provide. Other companies with the same level of expertise or Data Centre resources have hundreds of employees and their executive team is largely inaccessible to most clients.
Describe the improvement this Solution, Service Provided, or Initiative made to the customer’s sales or revenues. What changed?
The obvious evidence of improvements that we helped make for Company X is their current growth trend and success. During the economic downturn, they more than tripled their corporate presence from 6 to over 20 sites, doubled their headcount in 2009, and increased their enterprise value to over $4 billion. To be sure, the successful growth cannot be attributed to just a good IT system .… We want to emphasize the fact that our team was able to make this expansion smooth and our expertise has kept their technology efficient enough that they can still comfortably operate with less than 10 IT staff members. We are confident that this speaks volumes about the quality of their IT systems, and the level of enterprise class service guaranteed by IT Weapons. In terms of cost reduction, it is good to point out the fact that over 70% of IT budgets are spent on maintenance alone. By outsourcing system management and end user support for all 300 employees, Company X has radically reduced the potential maintenance costs down to a fixed monthly fee for their entire infrastructure. In terms of value, they get access to our entire team of experts, which, if they were to try and staff internally, would cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in salaries alone.
Describe the improvement this Solution, Service Provided, or Initiative made to the customer’s efficiency. What changed?
What better evidence for system efficiency than a nationwide real estate enterprise with 300 employees and over 20 locations, operating with less than 10 IT staff members. We ensured that the centralized infrastructure could be scaled up and rolled out easily. As Company X acquired companies, each of their data and application suites needed to be integrated. They were converted and rolled out overnight with the Company X standard applications and infrastructure. The mergers and acquisitions group now looks at their IT as an enabler of their acquisition and expansion activities. This idea is in sharp contrast to the typical perception that IT is like a boat anchor slowing down their ability to integrate new acquisitions. Rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars implementing a dedicated IT system for each new acquisition around the country, Company X can operate with a small IT staff team in a single location, while IT Weapons monitors their nationwide system from our NOC.
How did this Solution, Service provided, or Initiative improve the customer’s ability to serve its internal and/or external clients?
Constructing an entire virtualized IT system at our DC for Company X didn’t just help them improve service for their users and customers, IT Weapons provided them a stable fully managed system that made it possible for their organization to expand and operate successfully on a national level. With an agile, virtualized system-managed by IT Weapons-they can continue to integrate their various locations, safely develop new applications for their users, and continue to operate with a lean IT staff team. The system we developed and maintain for Company X is truly an enabler for growth and new acquisition integration.
In what ways does this Solution or Service Provided go above and beyond industry norms and expectations?
What makes the system expansion project we did for Company X remarkable is the range of technical expertise and dedicated service required to design, implement, and manage their entire IT system, coast to coast. The evidence of our success here lies in the simple fact that a $4.9 billion company with 300 people in over 20 locations across Canada can safely operate with an internal IT team of less than 10 people (4 of them application developers, rather than system administrators). Because the IT Weapons team is 44 people strong, we are small enough to remain nimble and flexible when it comes to accommodating customer demands; whether that means adjusting pricing and customizing service agreements, or for change management. The enterprise class resources we provide with a small agile team means that we can respond with the care and speed that no Canadian competitor in this market space is able to provide. Other companies with the same level of expertise or Data Centre resources are large corporations with hundreds of employees, layers of managerial bureaucracy, and their executive teams are largely inaccessible to most clients for consultation and guidance. With IT Weapons, the opposite is true; Company X’s team has direct access to our entire consulting team, our CEO, and our Chief Architect for regular meetings.
How does this solution further your customer’s green or environmentally friendly plans?
By consolidating and virtualizing their 89 server workloads onto just 22 physical hosts; Company X is preventing the emission of over 46 tonnes of CO2 and they are saving over $53,000 dollar in power. For details on the arithmetic we used for these numbers please see our Green Submission where we outline our reporting procedures.