Case study title

Cloud - Retail Sector - Kingstown Associates

Client Name

Kingstown Associates

Industry

Retail

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The Overview

Kingstown Associates chose Blue Chip, a GCI Company, to provide them with a number of Cloud-based solutions which would transform their existing on-premise systems as part of their ongoing IT improvement strategy.

Kingstown Associates are a leading UK Mail Order Company based in Yorkshire, owning a number of lifestyle brands aimed predominantly at the over 60s. They also offer bespoke fulfilment services to third parties, sourcing products as well as designing, printing and distributing catalogues on behalf of their clients. Kingstown’s single site in Yorkshire contains extensive warehouse facilities, a call centre and busy Order Fulfilment teams, with 105 IT users and a flexible workforce for busy times of the year such as Christmas.

Kingstown needed a variety of improvements to their existing IT systems. Having invested significantly in their infrastructure five years ago, the hardware was starting to reach an age where a review was required. Their SAN had reached a natural “end of life” and due to their large amount of data had little available storage left, plus Kingstown’s core network switches and firewalls had reached the point where they required replacing to negate the likelihood of failure and incompatibility with newer technology. Additionally, the business wanted a more flexible and robust Backup and Disaster Recovery solution, as they felt they hadn’t been able to take full advantage of their existing product. The overall requirement was increased performance and stability on a day-to-day basis as the initial stage of their ongoing IT improvement strategy, as well as a solution that could flex with the business during seasonal peaks.

Blue Chip had already completed Office 365 Hybrid and Hosted Antivirus projects for Kingstown Associates and were supporting the business with a Flexible Premium Managed Service, affording them access to Blue Chip’s full Managed Services portfolio but only billed for the time used. Although they were happy with the service received, the company decided to offer the project out to tender so they were able to evaluate all available options. Having carefully reviewed the alternatives, Kingstown opted to have Blue Chip deliver the solutions once again.

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The Solution

Blue Chip recommended several Cloud-based solutions for Kingstown Associates which would allow them to move from a CAPEX to OPEX investment model, thereby eliminating the need to invest heavily again in on-premise infrastructure in another five years.

A Blade as a Service (BaaS) solution was implemented – ideal for Kingstown’s large dataset - with their dedicated Blade Server housed in one of Blue Chip’s highly secure and resilient datacentres. This eliminated the need for Kingstown to have their own physical server on-site, as well as having the added benefit of supporting their existing Microsoft SQL software. There were additional cost benefits, as not only was their huge amount of data able to be easily consolidated, but the solution is simple to scale to meet Kingstown’s anticipated growth. This was supported by a 5TB Virtual NAS as an extension to the virtual machine storage by way of an archive repository, as well as private connectivity via Blue Chip’s Network as a Service (NaaS) provision. With NaaS, very low latency is ensured which improves the stability and performance of the connection, as well as offering scalability as the size of Kingstown’s dataset continues to increase.

Blue Chip also installed their Desktop as a Service Silver provision, which would offer secure and centralised remote access to a full desktop environment, company data and Microsoft Office 365 applications. It offers staff the ability to work from anywhere with an internet connection – not just Kingstown’s Yorkshire site – and is easily scalable to match the business’ needs. To ensure that their new environment was sufficiently protected, Blue Chip also implemented a FortiGate Virtual Firewall. Recognised as the industry-leading firewall and with the same robust protection and functionality as its physical counterpart, the FortiGate Virtual Firewall is another solution that be easily flexed up or down depending on the business’ needs.

GCI’s, Blue Chip are also highly experienced at both deploying and managing Cloud and on-premise Fortinet firewalls, with GCI also having Platinum Fortinet partner status. Finally, in order to back up their large amount of data as well as provide Disaster Recovery capabilities, SecureVault Cloud Backup was implemented. Powered by award-winning EVault software from Backup and DR experts Carbonite, data is backed up to Blue Chip’s Private Cloud Platform, which operates to ISO9001 and ISO27001 standards. As this provision is Cloud-based, Kingstown can easily increase the amount of storage required as the business grows without the high capital expenditure associated with traditional on-premise backup solutions.

SUCCESS AND COMPANY BENEFITS

Kingstown Associates now have a high-performance, secure infrastructure that harnesses the agility of the Cloud to scale quickly and inexpensively as the company continues to grow. The business has now moved to an Operational rather than Capital Expenditure model, which eliminates the need to invest heavily in upgrading on-premise hardware when it reaches “end of life”, as the cost of maintenance and management is borne by Blue Chip.

Andrew Porter, IT Manager at Kingstown Associates, said: “We chose Blue Chip not only because of their level of professionalism, but because of their expertise surrounding Cloud Services and their partnerships with some of the biggest vendors in the IT industry. Blue Chip really listen to your requirements, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to others who are looking for the same.”