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TECHNICAL SERVICES

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VERSION

5

WITH HUGE
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PERFORMANCE
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8x
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Our expertise

SFX Corporate works in partnership with ‘Inseptio limited’, a highly regarded and resourceful technical IT solutions company, to provide the best business solutions for your institution. We have a team of specialised and highly trained IT network and server engineers with relevant industry certification, who have considerable experience and a proven track record.

SFX Corporate in partnership with Inseptio limited offer the following services:

  • 24 / 7 customer focus and service in all areas of IT and network solutions.
  • the best IT solutions at highly competitive rates.
  • outstanding procurement outcomes for efficiency gains.
  • industry standard best practice solutions to improve the quality of service and facilitate business continuity.
  • tailored IT solutions that meet the specific needs of the business.
  • full IT systems and staff skills audits to establish skills levels/gaps and enable better planning for future investment.

If we consider that investment in IT Networks/Services is one of the largest (and ongoing) investments in educational infrastructure it is critical that institutions have a robust and cost effective IT platform. Please review the range of services we offer and contact us to discuss your specific requirements.

 

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Server Infrastructure

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Every organisation is dependent on technology to facilitate operational management and to establish effective business communication. Having a robust and a fully managed network server infrastructure is at the heart of ensuring continuity of a high quality service, efficient management and strong communication.
At SFX Corporate, our technical experts will assist you to audit and identify opportunities for improvements within your existing server infrastructure, plan for future expansion and assist in or fully manage, upgrade or change IT processes. We work with the latest technologies and knowledge base to assess, design, implement and maintain solutions with an aim to provide institutions with a high-end enterprise level server infrastructure that fully meets the institutions requirements

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Independent IT / Network / Server Review

A focused independent review is usually a good starting point for any IT environment where expansion/upgrade is required or there are current issues that need to be addressed. The review would provide the foundation for further development or to address specific needs. Our review is conducted by skilled and qualified technical experts. On completion of a review you will receive a detailed report which will be explained to the management team through a formal presentation. The report would provide a snapshot of the institutions current position, strengths and areas for improvements, inherent issues and a set of recommendations with some indicative costs for implementation. The institution can then utilise the review to prioritise the IT works required and accurately budget for the level of investment needed.

Server Infrastructure & System Migrations and Virtualisation

One of the quickest ways to significantly reduce IT costs and strengthen the network infrastructure is to implement a virtualisation and migration strategy. This is now becoming more popular than ever as it brings many benefits beyond cost savings. As physical systems (servers, switches and storage) are being virtualised and proprietary management tools, such as RM network management consoles and the like, are being replaced with vanilla enterprise servers, having a partner with an in-depth knowledge of various platforms and experience of migration is essential. Our engineers have a wide range of experience of different technologies (VMware and Hyper-V), infrastructure and the processes of migration including:

  • RM network management replaced with a Microsoft vanilla enterprise platform
  • Redesigning and migrating Active Directory
  • Replacing and upgrading Exchange server along with associated data transfers and migration
  • Servers and switch virtualisation
  • Server optimisation, consolidation and migration

The IT team is led by an experienced project manager and an active engineer who oversees and manages the migration team according to an agreed project plan. Our team are adept in working alongside live environments within tight schedules and have a record of ensuring minimum downtime. All infrastructure and migration projects are carried out in consultation and collaboration with the institutions existing network team. This not only provides an opportunity for greater understanding and ownership for the institution involved, but also ensures that the implementation is successful and addresses the specific needs of the organisation.

Data Migration and Consolidation

As institutions increasingly use technologies to replace manual systems and processes, data storage inadvertently becomes a major challenge. Upgrading and changing storage solutions is a very expensive investment, but at times there are no other options. However, our engineers recommend that before large investments are made in new storage solutions, consolidating data storage should be the first step in order to ensure that current storage is properly being utilised and where possible storage compression and data archiving is effectively implemented. Our engineers have first-hand experience of data storage and consolidation and also have implemented many storage solutions covering small enterprises to very large data centres.

IT Systems and Services Procurement

Dealing with IT vendors where profit mark-up can exceed 300% inevitably means that IT procurement becomes a highly specialised task. Negotiating the cost of an IT solution requires a person with strong technical expertise and effective negotiation skills. The SFX Corporate technical team has up to date knowledge of systems costs, market values and competitor solutions. Therefore, our team is able to identify actual costs of solutions and negotiate a significant discount so that the vendor profit mark-up is minimised. We have partnerships with a range of solution providers and can offer a full procurement package (including identifying alternative solutions) or just act on your behalf to procure an identified IT solution.

Network Infrastructure

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The network infrastructure; including switches (core and edge), cables (fibre and STP/UTP), firewalls, Wi-Fi, telephony (VOIP) and proxies, is the core element of an IT system. Poor network architecture slows down systems and introduces bottlenecks and poor quality service which limits the server infrastructures overall capability. For this reason institutions must ensure that these technologies are fully optimised, effectively configured and where necessary updated to ensure:

  • increased security and compliance (with audit and Data Protection guidelines)
  • high speed data through-put
  • increase Wi-Fi bandwidth
  • better management and sharing of centralised resources
  • reduction of systems management costs
  • unnecessary costly investments or duplications
  • increase value for money investments with longer service period

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Core and Edge Switch Optimisation, Upgrades and Maintenance

Having a robust core and edge switch network architecture is key to maximising speed and data through-put around the network. Our engineers are highly qualified with CCNP, CCIP, JNCIP certifications and have extensive experience of developing and managing large datacentre networks. We are therefore fully conversant with a wide range of network architecture and are able to quickly conceptualise an institutions network design and provide a comprehensive report and recommendations for improvements. Our services range from network review to planning for a full network infrastructure upgrade or replacement.

Network Firewall Support and Maintenance

Firewall is the first level of security protecting the institution from the outside world. Through the firewall the college provides access to staff, clients, service users and the public to defined areas of the network. Therefore, essentially this is one of the most important security layers. In order to meet the requirements of the Data Protection Act and requirements from the internet service providers (such as Janet), institutions need to ensure that the firewall is properly configured, managed and maintained. SFX Corporate provides a range of services, including firewall maintenance contracts with a specialised partner and replacement or upgrade of the existing firewall. We also provide a health check review of the existing firewall setup, which provides the institutions management with an independent assessment of compliance along with identifying strengths, weaknesses and recommendations for the future.

Wi-Fi and BYOD Solutions

In order to provide wireless connectivity and essentially offer Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) capabilities a robust and highly effective wifi platform is required. Although this technology provides many opportunities for institutions, it also introduces many avenues of possible threats to the network. As the wifi signal can be picked up by anyone within the signal radius it is essential that the wifi infrastructure is fully configured, secured and managed to protect it from possible threats. SFX Corporate has a number of corporate partners who offer top end wifi solutions at very competitive rates. Our service includes, wifi survey, technology procurement, full implementation and management support, carried out by highly skilled engineers who have knowledge of a range of current wifi systems.

System Management

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The SFX Corporate technical team follows the PPDIOO (Prepare, Plan, Design, Implement, Operate, and Optimise) methodology, which defines the continuous life cycle of services, support and management. The steps we follow include:

Prepare – this involves establishing the organisational requirements through reviews and audits, current state assessment Survey and Results, high-level conceptual design and architecture, financial justifications and the case for the proposed architecture.

Plan – this involves identifying initial systems and network requirements specifications, user needs and target outcomes.

Design – this is a comprehensive design to meet requirements that were derived from the planning phase.

Implement – this involves building the specification based on the design specification, incorporating security, scalability, availability, reliability and performance.

Operate – this involves the final test of the design including live day-to-day operation including testing of failover, fault detection, correction and performance monitoring. This is one of the most time consuming and costly exercises, but also one of the most important.

Optimise – this involves the proactive management of servers and network infrastructure to identify and resolve issues before they impact on the organisation. It also involves the possibility of redesign if too many problems occur or IT performance does not match expectations.

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System Management

Ensuring that the server management tool is effectively understood, administered and managed is critical to the overall function of the institutions IT network infrastructure. Indeed having a poor network setup can degrade the network, introduce poor performance and more critically put the institution at risk in terms of legal compliance requirements.

Our Microsoft Systems Centre Certified Engineer is highly specialised in reviewing, optimising and implementing the Microsoft enterprise standard server platform. Our services range from audit review and training to full implementation and server management under agreed service level agreements.

Vanilla Migration (RM Network Management Console to Microsoft Vanilla)

Many institutions in the early days of educational IT would have contracted the server management to a proprietary solution provider, such as RM. However, over time the institutions requirements change, the management service becomes very costly and more importantly institutions are forced to operate within a defined framework and therefore the system becomes an obstacle to change.

SFX Corporate engineers are highly skilled in scoping, planning and implementing large scale migration. The most recent and highly successful migration project (RM to vanilla) was conducted at St Francis Xavier College. The outcome of the migration resulted in over £100k cost savings and the network infrastructure was significantly improved. The college now benefits from an enterprise standard network, which is now significantly more efficient and effective.

Training - IT Staff Skills Audit

Ensuring the IT network team are up-to-date with current technologies and their skills are regularly checked is an essential exercise for every institution. SFX Corporate can provide a quick health check for technical staff on skills and knowledge capabilities for those who are responsible for the day-to-day management of the institutions network. The institution can then plan staff development funds accordingly in order to ensure those who are managing critical IT systems are appropriately trained and up-skilled to carry out their functions effectively.