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.

Business in the Midlands

We have been providing IT support to the Midlands since before the recession, during, and what we feel after (even if double/triple dips). We see clients from small to large and while it hasn’t been easy for everyone, we believe a lot of companies have come out of things a lot stronger.

Some of our clients have had to adapt and change what they do, others have had to streamline, others have had to gamble and take on as much as possible to come out of things what can only be described as booming!

We also work with start-ups and new businesses, and while we have seen some struggle, we have seen others fill gaps in the markets and even create new markets, we are very proud to say some of our clients and friends really are thriving with a whole new zest and passion for their businesses and life.

Kixo started in 2009 towards the beginning of the recession, because we saw there was a better way of providing IT support to people. We feared for our jobs security at existing companies because service was slipping and clients money was getting tighter. Rightfully so, bad service simply could not be tolerated, in the middle of a recession we quit our jobs to start Kixo.

As a more streamlined company, we could look after clients IT needs and support them without having a high turnover of engineers, team leaders and ten different managers. So for us streamlining was best practice from day 1. For both us and our clients things are best when they are simple and personal.

Five years on and our clients and Kixo are growing, not too fast and making sure to stay personal and streamlined. Things have been tough but looking around the Midlands now we see it’s a great time to be in business in the Midlands!

Microsoft Lync

Kixo have been using phone and VOIP systems for over 15 years but in the last few a new contender has entered a crowded market – Microsoft Lync. There is a bit of a new buzzword that’s flying around recently as well – Unified.

Put the two together and people get cautious including us! But after playing around with the servers, hardware, and mobile apps, we have fallen in love. We originally looked into Lync for one of our clients in Birmingham but it jumped out at us that it suited us perfectly! We have invested in both Polycom and Aastra phones, and use the mobile apps, Microsoft Lync is so simple and sturdy but so very smart, we add an appointment into our outlook calendar, and during times marked as busy it rings our phone on silent, so we aren’t disturbed.

Lync knows if we’re in the office or out so instead of dialing a persons number and if they don’t pick up call thier mobile after, Microsoft Lync you dial a name and lync works out where you are, office, home, app, or forward to mobile number. It just works.

Lync goes further with exchange 2013 if someone is on a call or in a meeting or out of office, Your phone will tell you that person is busy and doing what (if you wish to share) so it lets you know not to bother calling them, its such a simple idea that Microsoft have nailed. Lync is not what you call a small infrastructure set-up, its not for the faint hearted, but Microsoft has a Lync product to suit all business, small you use Office 365 lync, mid size you use co-located, and if big you can host your own, the good news is price doesn’t really change but the functionality does with it.

Here in Birmingham we don’t exactly have the largest network and high speed internet we would like, traditionally VOIP fails with that, but lync using some amazing compression, it sounds HD but we use it over 3G and ADSL lines.

Visually lync 2010 was a little rough around the edges, it was a modified version of OCS which was far from a polished product, but in its 3rd incarnation Lync 2013 is beautiful, simple and solid. Apps available on iOS, Android, and Windows, plus web versions, plus hard phones we think Lync 2013 is going to be very popular over the next few years.


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