South East England-based Swale Heating has emulated its head office IT setup in the Midlands by expanding through a major contract.
Swale Heating provides boiler and heating system installation and maintenance services. When it won a contract with a Birmingham and Stratford-Upon Avon housing association, its first major business outside the SE of England, the contract stipulated it needed to have a local presence.
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So the company opened an office in the region and decided to build a VPN tunnel between the new office and its headquarters in Sittingbourne, Kent.
Philip White, IT manager at the company, said staff at the new office have access to the same IT as those in the head office through the VPNs and Microsoft Terminal Server thin client technology. Swale is in the process of moving its desktops to thin clients. Of 120 about 80% will move to thin clients.
This also supports the firm's drive to enable home working, which is part of its disaster recovery strategy. “Our business tends to get busier during bad weather such as snow and we need to make sure our staff can work if they can’t get to the office.”
Swale is also replacing the Windows PDAs used by engineers with Android Tablets. This is part of a wider mobile data project that sees all engineering data being recorded electronically.
The company has 600 staff including field workers that provide heating system maintenance. But with only six IT staff, the company outsources some projects and support.
IT services firm Exec Sys supported the company’s move and replication in Stratford-Upon Avon and also provides ongoing support remotely, from locations including South Africa. “We are a midsized company and we do not have the in-house resources to do this.”
White said it is the first time Swale has had any services delivered from an offshore location. “This has been really successful as there is always someone available when we need support.”
He added that the contract with Exec Sys has reduced the support and administration costs by 50%.
Exec Sys also supports Swale Heating’s software licensing standardisation, server and firewall management and security monitoring, as well as server virtualisation.