Case Studies

Following are 5 case studies that illustrate some of the types of projects that we do. The cases are organized to start with a simple example and progress through increasingly complex office networks.

Case 1, A Start-up for a Therapist’s office

We started providing support for this client shortly after they founded their company. They had 2 older computers and 2 printers. They wanted to add a notebook computer to use during client sessions. Company and client related documents were spread across 2 computers. Printing was troublesome, they had no network, no functional broadband, no means of backing up any of their data. They had no anti-virus software.

We had a meeting to learn of the clients wants and needs. Following the meeting we worked with them for an acceptable plan of action.

We converted one of their workstations to use as a dedicated server. We made some additions to to help insure the server's longevity. We installed Windows XP Professional and put it in service as their file and print server. We installed 2 internal drives on the server. One was for data storage and access and the other was for an on-site redundant copy of all data. We added 2 external 1 terabyte drives for the server to use as weekly rotating off-site storage.

We helped the client install new workstations and to centralize the data on their server, plus installed automatic backups.

We installed Symantec Endpoint Protection on the server and the workstations to provide centralized and automated virus and spyware protection.

We contacted their local Telephone service provider and other vendors and found that DSL service was the primary broadband value in their area. Once the broadband service was installed, we added a wireless router internally to provide secure wireless connectivity. We also set up a secure VPN that permitted them to access their computers from outside the office by way of Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection, which is included in most versions of Windows software.

We set up wireless communication so the notebook could securely access their server, network printer and to browse the web anywhere in the office. Their wireless network was a minor challenge because there were 7 other wireless networks nearby, and the other networks interfered with the client’s network. This is typical of wireless networks in office parks.

The customer wanted to change their mail from a basic POP3 mail box to one that took advantage of what is called Hosted Exchange. Hosted Exchange is Microsoft Exchange server but which uses a cloud based server rather than an in-house server. We helped to migrate their mail, client lists and scheduling to using hosted Exchange. This permitted them to centralize their scheduling and contact information and make it accessible to them from within the office and from outside as well.

We also helped by automating a lot of routine computer maintenance.

We set up and take care of the client's computers and network so that they can concentrate on their clients

 

Case 2 A Law Firm

When we started providing support for this client when they had 4 computers configured in an ad-hock network. Their primary applications were two MS-DOS based database programs and a variety of template based documents used for client correspondence. They also used the standard suite of Windows based applications. They reported a number of problems related to reliability and also related to having problems finding documents and printing. Not all computers could access the internet and no one knew why.

To eliminate the reliability problems they reported, we suggested that they move into a workstation class computer that was configured to work as a dedicated server and to keep their programs, data and shared printers, as needed, on that machine. We also suggested that they implement nightly backups. They asked us to implement all that we suggested. We did and taught them how to manage off-site backups. These changes solved their reliability problems and let them get increased access to their printers, and made it possible for them to consolidate their document library. In addition we found out that their lack of broadband was due to a network configuration problem on one of the workstations.

They also wanted simple email capabilities. We put them in touch with an ISP who provided their domain name needs along with free POP3 mailboxes. This was a perfect fit for them and also very low cost. Following that they needed something to monitor and reduce their growing volume of junk mail. We suggested a simple to use program that did the job to their liking. They also asked for email archiving ability so we added that by way of a built-in feature of Microsoft Outlook.

In time they had 12 computers in the office, so we moved them onto a true server platform running Windows 2003, which was current at the time. This move brought notably increased performance and security for sensitive information, plus faster backup technology and other features that server platforms permit.

Over time their office grew to 14 workstations and a server. When they needed new computer equipment we put them in touch with Dell representatives and were able to get them discounted pricing on their computer hardware, beyond what they could get from Dell’s web site or other Dell provided promotions.

From the outset, we installed a client/server based version of Symantec anti-virus software this has been updated every few years to the latest version.

This office had a fair amount of temporary help and due to this there was a high incidence of viruses showing up on the computers. In response to this we changed the workstation security and also showed them how to run periodic anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. We also took advantage of a built-in capability of the Symantec anti-virus software we were able to restrict access to sites such as Facebook and other social networking sites and this has greatly reduced random viruses from showing up on the computers, and also made for increased productivity.

The customer permitted us to access their computers by way of remote access technology. This allows us to perform troubleshooting and maintenance quickly and with minimal assistance from their office staff. It saves a lot of cost compared to going to the customer’s office to perform most services.

A recent addition to their office was a secure VPN connection so that they can telecommute to their desktops and office network. We also added a secure internal based FTP site for some of their clients.We made it possible for our client to focus on their business and not worry about their network or office computers.

 

We take care of a Law Firm's computers and that lets them focus on the needs of their clients.

Case 3 A Moving and Storage Company

When we started working with this group they had 12 workstations and a dedicated server.

They had reliability issues and wanted to connect to their vendor’s networks. To solve the reliability issues we found that their server had a defective network adapter card and they had some defective network cable. We replaced the cable and card and that solved most of the problems. After that we implemented a backup routine and added a 2nd server to use as a print server and also served as a backup for the first server.

To help them connect to their vendor’s private network the vendor provided a data line into their office and a router. We did the router to router communication that permitted them to have the access to the vendor's data that they needed.

In time they wanted to control their email in-house, so we installed a new server and used Microsoft Exchange server. This gave everyone in the office all the features of Outlook, plus made it possible for them to get their email from the Web and to connect their smart phones to the office email. We also installed GFI products to provide junk mail filtering and content control.

In time they added 3 remote offices and by this time had over 40 computers in their network. We made it possible for them to use site to site VPNs and that allowed them to securely connect their remote offices to the central network, use company email, contact management, and documents. At the same time they increased the number of vendors networks they had to connect to 5 private networks. They also added wireless access to their networks so that notebook computers could be easily used. In time they added Mac computers to their network and we made it possible to share the company printers and everything else with the Mac computers.

We make possible for our clients to keep moving while we take care of their network and storage needs.

Case 4 An Architectural Firm

When we started working with this group they had 16 computers and an ad-hock network. They had problems with AutoCAD, with printing and plotting, had vital data stored on each other's workstations. The office had a network but there was no server or coordinated use of resources. After meeting with most of their staff, we put together a list of their requests, and recommend a 2 server platform as an ideal solution for them. One server was used primarily for CAD drawings and other documents. The other server was used primarily for accounting related purposes, plus it worked as the company printer and plotter server. Each server provided a data backup for the other server.

Once the servers were in place we helped them to consolidate all their documents to the servers. Following this, we optimized the workstations so that they would work better with CAD. We implemented Symantec server-managed Anti-Virus program on the servers and all workstations. The combination of events solved the problems they were having with AutoCAD. We also configured the printers so that they would be shared and run from the servers. This greatly improved printing performance. Over time they added additional staff and workstations until the office computers numbered about 30. In addition to their large format scanner and plotter we added 2 large format photo quality printers, and a large number of other printing resources; all of which were made accessible over the network.

We implemented Microsoft Exchange server so that they could get the benefits of group email and scheduling, plus the other features that Exchange enables. Exchange includes support for web based access as well as most smart phones.

The client regularly meets with a number of other clients and this required that they provide access to the internet that is secure from the office network. We installed a Wifi for this purpose. This service provides access to the web but it is secured from the office network and servers.

The client creates many large files and they communicate with a number of consultants and clients. Due to this we implemented an in-house web and FTP server. The servers provides secure access to a large number of virtual FTP and web sites Maintaining this in-house costs only a small fraction of what commercial FTP sites cost.

Many Creative Suite, 3d modeling and other CAD files have grown into the multiple gigabyte range. The file sizes made it impractical to keep the files on the server. Due to this we implemented a mechanism where each workstation is backed up nightly. The backups are secure. We took advantage of this opportunity to backup many configuration files One of their servers with few demands was made the host for these backups and the backups ran after hours.

The customer’s office has had frequent problems with power outages and brown outs. City Light has investigated but could not provide a solution. The power outages were causing damage to office electronics. To reduce this problem we implemented a plan of putting inexpensive line voltage conditioners and also put their servers on a battery backed Uninterruptible Power Supply or UPS for short. In the event of a power outage the servers and all network equipment will power down on a scheduled basis. The UPS also protects the equipment from line surges and powers up automatically after electrical power has returned to the office and stabilized. For the workstations the voltage conditioners provide a low cost way of protecting the computers from line surges and high or low voltage conditions.

We design and support networks that help Architects design buildings.

Case 6 A Large Non-Profit Organization

This organization has been supporting the community for 60 years and has a number of offices in the region. There are over 150 computers used throughout the organization. Their IT infrastructure suffered from a lack of upkeep. When they contacted us they had several technologies in place which were not working properly. In part these included Microsoft Exchange Server, SharePoint 2003, some accounting related applications. They had problems with a VPN and with some network routing. They had servers in several offices that were in need of attention. Their broadband was painfully slow and suffered random outages. No one knew how long some of the critical network components were in service and we found they were contributing to some issues. They reported continuing and frustrating network related problems had taken some almost to the point where they stopped using computers. Their system of data backups was not ideal.

We were given the opportunity to help solve their IT problems and add a number of capabilities. We implemented a plan to address a large number of needs. These included solving the problems related to the issues noted above and more.

One of the major projects was to convert their offices from using a fractional T1 for broadband and phones, to using Comcast high speed broadband. This added significant capability for their offices while it also saved a lot of cost. The plan also included converting their offices to lower cost phone service.

We took advantage of the greater bandwidth to implement site to site backups. This gave them a remote redundant backup system of data for the first time.

In addition to this we replaced critical network components as they had been in service for an unknown number of years. We added 3 servers to update and expand capacity, and performed repair work on other servers that were still serviceable. We also helped to set up the computer infrastructure for a new remote office.

Because they are a non-profit organization, we were able to help them get large discounts on a variety of hardware and software. There are groups such as TechSoup who provide deep discounts to non-profit originations and we were instrumental in bringing these groups in to aid our client. The discounts we helped to secure made it possible to achieve some of their goals.

A major goal they had was to bring greater inter-connectivity to all their offices. Earlier attempts that used VPN connectivity had been problematic due to the number of offices involved. We were asked to bring SharePoint 2010 Enterprise version to their organization. Along with this we provided for a number of capabilities that take advantage of SharePoint, including common access to data, the ability to backup data from workstations at remote locations, the ability to convert Access based programs to execute from SharePoint and to provide secure web locations for each of their offices. SharePoint provided an ability to collaborate and maintain group goals in a way never before possible.

In addition to all the above, we worked as IT support for most of a year to help get the organization caught up with a wide variety of IT related issues.

We performed a major IT renovation that helped a large charitable organization provide care. And because they are a non-profit organization, we gave them a nice discount.

Call us at 206-763-8874. We have a proven track record of reliable, cost effective and pragmatic solutions.