Kixo IT – Supporting Tolman Motorsport

Kixo are incredibly proud to sponsor/partner with the Midlands based TolmanMotorsport – A BritishGT racing team. Computers and IT isn’t always the most exciting of subjects (unless your geeks like us)  Racing about in sports cars in way more interesting, we are lucky that we have very interesting clients!

A few months ago we partnered and agreed to provide services and support to the Team. Its Tolman’s first year in the prestigious GT series but the team have a long racing pedigree including WorldRally and Touring cars.

We joined the team mid season so we have been thrown in at the deep end. Since partnering the team has been clocking up points at Snetterton and Spa in Belgium, and last weekend clocked a 1st place at Brandshatch! There a only 2 more races this season and Tolman have been doing amazingly!

Drivers Luke Davenport and David Patterson along with the entire team have been simply storming it! We travelled all the way with them to Spa in Belgium to what has to be the one of the most historical and famous F1 tracks in the world, we wanted to be able to provide them with network, data, and communications unparalleled in the GT series.

Everyone knows F1 is famous for being cutting edge but F1 seems to have lost its spark to the fans, so a lot of people have been looking to BritishGT for the high action and fun it offers. The league has been gaining traction for a long time now and Kixo believe we can help the team progress, and yes we hope to have some fun along the way!

Data is one of the big things for teams now, from logging historical to logging live, and having it all on tap, Big Data is something Kixo can do for Tolman in the British GT series.

We wont be talking to much about what we are doing as its all race secrets but the demand for high uptime, always available, critical data to make race decisions is something we are proud to be working on!

So if you wondered why a IT company had been tweeting about motorsport, now you know why! You can catch the guys winning at BrandsHatch here on Channel4’s catchup service here!

Disaster Recovery


A lot of people talk about disaster recovery and not many people get how it fits into the business and how or why it can be important, we thought we would share a recent chain of events that worked so well most of the users in the business didn’t know anything was going on. Sometimes if you do your job well enough no one knows your doing it!

One of our clients is a Tier 1 automotive manufacture supplying  to internationally known Car manufactures.  All companies operate 24/7 so there is a strict zero downtime policy. Every minute of downtime can equal hundreds of thousands of pounds of losses and extra costs for staff to catch up on hours lost in the factories.

We had been planning a virtualisation and disaster recovery project for all the physical servers, so when we discovered we were also moving to a new large factory and office we tied the projects together. We virtualised all physical servers and even some routers. Once virtualised we enabled off site replication to a secure Datacentre, this allowed us to turn off physical hardware and move the office without any of the key ERP software and backbone software like Emails being interrupted, despite the original hardware being in the back of a lorry being moved!

After the original physical servers had arrived at the new location we switched back to the main hardware’s new location. Now the disaster recovery plan had been tested in a controlled manor we felt comfy enough after additional testing that in event of a disaster at the main site the business would be able to ride through large problems which could have crippled the company before.

The disaster recovery plan was tested for real shortly after being at the new factory when the sites power lines failed due to circumstances outside of the clients control, at which point generators kept the factory running, while the company disaster recovery plan kept all key ERP software running and externally all emails and VoIP phone lines stayed up. Externally nobody knew anything and more importantly production was able to keep running.

If the downtime had been for a longer period of time the plan would have allowed all employees to go home and log onto the sessions via remote desktop and carry on working where they left off. Phone extensions could have been diverted to user’s mobiles but luckily for all involved the downtime was not prolonged.

The one thing which a good plan always seems to lack is staff training. Having a plan is great but people need to know it, when it kicks in and what they need to do, so drumming in basics like accessing emails and phones is key.

With ERP software becoming so important to large businesses, having multiple plans to survive basic incidents is a must. SaaS is something we expect to be seeing more of in the future and while some people are sceptical of SaaS, cloud and disaster recovery being buzzwords, they can boil down to some very simple procedures and just using what you may already be using. Businesses are starting to see that disaster recovery systems combined with virtualisation and cloud is a very smart and powerful tool which can be applied to all large and small businesses.

Geek Speak

Geek Speak

Everyone knows in the Nerd world we love to shorten everything

Below are the “human” translations!

 

Hosted Email – Traditionally a business had to have a server in their office which provided emails, now you can rent email boxes, so instead of a flat bill of £1000 per year you can now pay less than £10 per user per month, obviously maths says this is good for small business, bad for big users, however a lot of larger companies like hosted because of the simple scalability and lack of CapEX (see below).

Servers -powered by the combined will of the business to “go faster”.

Desktops – the box under your desk you keep stubbing your toe on.

Laptops – The computer you loose in the car and never seem to find the charger for.

Mobiles / Mobile Devices– the device your other half accuses you of having an affair with.

Virus & Spam Protection – stopping bad things getting to you and occasionally saying “don’t click on that”.

Pro-Actively – yes its a buzz word but we believe in it, we go out looking for things to fix BEFORE they break, controlled repairs preventing downtime.

Monitor – in our sense we have a constant connection to devices “saying are you ok” if the device doesn’t answer or answers saying its anything other than optimum, we get an alert and log on to fix it!

Marvin – We have a monitoring system we lovingly call Marvin, he also handles emails see him here

Wireless /WiFi – this can be various ways of connecting networks and soon powering devices without cables.

Printers – the thing that runs out of ink faster than you can buy it!

SLA (Service Level Agreement) – how long it takes to call you back and get things fixed!

CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) – in its simplest term paying money in one lump up front. Full Description

OPEX (Operation Expenditure) – in its simplest term paying money in byte size monthly. Full Description

There has been a large shift in business and IT from CAPEX to OPEX, less large blocks of money upfront for servers vs small monthly costs per user per month. Better for cash flow, only real difference is you will not own a server, but rent instead. Over a period of 3-5 years it works out on average the same outlay *this is a guide.

SEO/ SERP – Search Engine Optimisation & Search Engine Result Positioning, simply how well you rank in google and other search engines

VOIP / SIP – Phone calls over the internet.
SQL – A type of database, most large businesses use multiple databases, SQL is the platform it can run on.

ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning, normally the software that runs all aspects of large businesses. Examples are Dynamics, SAPS, Epicore

Virtualization – turning physical hardware into a software version, this means better flexibility, and potentially better usage of hardware so cheaper

We are now a Lenovo business partner


We are very proud today to announce that we are now an Official Lenovo Business Partner. We work hard to partner with different vendors as we see a very real difference in the support we are then able to give our customers.

By teaming up with Lenovo we know the products better and have a more direct line of support should it be needed. Also this means we get a much more competitive price for you.

Lenovo Yoga Pro 3

Over the last few years we have seen a lot of management staff wanting premium designed computers, traditionally they headed towards apple macbooks and macbook airs, but have been frustrated by the operating system. Since then a lot of manufactures have caught up on hardware design and have really started to produce some amazingly beautiful pieces of kit. Such as the Lenovo Yoga Pro, which are blistering fast computers supported by windows 8.1 that makes for an amazing ultra thin, ultra powerful, ultra stylish laptop.

Lenovo All In One

Also Lenovo have a range of all in one’s, again Lenovo have been taking a share of the iMac market with its range, once more combining huge power, beautiful displays and well designed hardware. Lenovo really have some products to shout about and we have been getting swamped with people wanting them!

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