Boston-Based Architectural Firm, iCorps Client Case Study 

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SUMMARY

This Boston-based architectural firm* has been a forerunner in producing innovative designs via the power of 3D and project visualization technology. However, aging equipment was hindering their workflow and driving up costs. By partnering with iCorps, they were able to build a new modernized hybrid IT environment, from the ground up. 

THE RESULTS

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ABOUT OUR CLIENT

They are a Boston-based architectural firm that provides high level design and strategic planning for workplace, education, asset support, corporate, and retail and hospitality markets nationwide. Their employees leverage 3D and project visualizations throughout the designing and planning process, to ensure an optimal outcome before construction actually begins. They pride themselves on bringing their clients' ideas to life and recognize the inextricable role technology plays in that process. 

WHY THEY CHOSE iCORPS
They approached iCorps because they were dissatisfied with their existing MSP. They felt that their then provider wasn't proactive in addressing service-related issues and failed to deliver strategic IT guidance for long term growth. As a nationwide architectural firm, their highly distributed workforce was bearing the brunt of sub-par IT service. After they reached out to iCorps, our technicians performed an assessment and evaluated the overall posture of their network. We mapped how they were running their service across desktop and remote endpoints and became familiar with their specific application stack. This stack layered products such as Adobe and AutoCAD drafting software for graphic and building design. It became clear that the firm was dealing with aging hardware in need of replacement, but due to the application stack, they could not go out and purchase ordinary laptops. They needed customized products with lots of memory, solid state drives, and specific graphic cards, which could easily reach $4,000 per device. Their AutoCAD file server was also aging out at an even costlier replacement. It was at this point we suggested moving their on-premise resources to Microsoft Azure. 

PROOF OF CONCEPT
The firm expressed initial concerns about how their applications would respond in a cloud, or remote, environment. We reached out to our Microsoft representatives, and applied for partner investment funding to design a proof of concept computing environment. After receiving approval, our experts built out the cloud infrastructure, integrating Azure and server components as well as Citrix technology on the front end. Azure's high compute servers provided robust memory and performance speed, while Citrix supplied the graphic horsepower their architects would need. Upon completion, we elicited 10-15 people for beta testing. The firm was so impressed by the compatibility of their applications and Azure's cloud platform that we went ahead and turned the proof of concept into a full-scale production. During the organization-wide implementation, we put the company's backend in Azure for file server control, and implemented Microsoft 365 and multi-factor authentication for added security. We then layered our managed security, coupled with unified threat management. We leveraged the 365 platform for email, and Microsoft Teams for collaboration, chat, and telephony. OneDrive provided employees personal storage, and Flow for ease of automation.

SCALING UP WITH MICROSOFT 365 
By shifting their processes to Microsoft Azure, the firm does not have to invest in expensive on-premise hardware. Now, rather than buying a $4,000 laptop, they can purchase a Microsoft Surface, utilize all the security features of Windows 10, and access all their applications and data for a quarter of the price. Their total cost of ownership has radically changed. Furthermore, they aren't tied to a single data center. Because everything is in the cloud, their employees have global access to the information they need. From a security perspective, if there is a regional data center outage, they will still have access in another region. The firm now has a high availability data recovery plan, which they didn't have before, and their content is backed up for Office 365, SharePoint, and OneDrive with SaaS protect. They've made it easier to get information, added layered security, information rights management, multi-factor authentication, and are now fully portable. We also designed a more cost-effective IT environment, by creating a system wherein the servers turn off and on as needed. Now, instead of doing 734 compute hours per month, they do around 160. That's sliced their Azure Virtual Machine costs in half. Coupled with hybrid benefits, the firm is now operating at 60-65% of their original cost. 

STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS
From the firm's perspective, they're reaping the benefits of a lower cost of ownership, quicker accessibility, greater scalability, and a redundant system that eliminates the possibility of a single point of failure. From a partner's perspective, we've added on our Encompass support providing day to day strategic oversight, CIO guidance, onsite scheduled maintenance visits, and 24x7 monitoring. We've layered managed security, infrastructure maintenance, and content back-up. We've brought in other Microsoft Partners, including Datto and Citrix, to provide a single business solution that serves all of our client's needs. Their employees are thriving, empowered by technology that is helping them re-envision the modern metropolitan landscape. 

*Name has been redacted for privacy 

 

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