Summerfield Engineering are a Derbyshire based precision engineering company located in Alfreton, who specialise in CNC and manual precision machining, the company is long established being formed in 1967.
Summerfield Engineering have a long history of heavily investing in the latest computer controlled machinery and software, enabling the company to provide the highest quality at a competitive price.
Summerfield Engineering were using Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) 2009 software which was running on an aging Hewlett Packard ProLiant ML 350 Gen6 server. They relied on this server for all aspects of their IT environment including Active Directory, email and file services. It was also being used to host their EFACS accounting/ERP software. Internet services were being provided via a two Megabit ADSL broadband connection.
The server was seven years old, and was starting to develop severe performance issues. This would result in unproductive user time because staff members would have to wait for unresponsive applications that relied on data from the ageing server.
An upgrade to the server had been put off due to the existing EFACS accounts/ERP software, needing to be kept in its current operative environment on the old SBS server. Summerfield Engineering were not in a position to upgrade EFACS to the latest version, as this version was on a new platform and was itself transitioning to the latest Microsoft SQL database. Until this transition was completed it was not viable to upgrade the software only to have the same disruption in the near future when the latest release had been launched. The current EFACS software would not run on the latest Microsoft server and SQL software preventing a new server being installed. Therefore, a short-term transition solution was required.
The performance was also causing intermittent corruption issues with CAD files that were being saved to a file share on the same server. There were also compatibility issues with the system because the Microsoft Exchange component of SBS 2009 was only compatible with Microsoft Office 2013 or earlier. This meant that new workstations purchased by the company needed to be downgraded to older versions of software which prevented users from taking advantage of the latest features available.
Peak Support worked with Summerfield Engineering to design a replacement system that would eliminate these issues and provide an all-round improved user experience. The first phase of the implementation involved upgrading the broadband line to an 100-megabit fibre (FTC) connection (capable of handling 1 gigabit connection in the future). This additional internet bandwidth allowed for a successful migration of the on-premise Exchange 2007 software to the cloud-based Office 365 email service. All aspects of the system including ‘User Mailboxes’, ‘Public Folders’, ‘Shared Calendars’ and the company’s extensive customer contact address books were successfully migrated.
The second phase involved replacing the existing server with a new HP ProLiant ML380P Gen9 server. This was installed with the very latest Microsoft technologies included in the Windows Server 2016 operating system such as Hyper-V server virtualisation. This allowed for each of the separate server workloads to run in its own Operating System Environment (OSE) resulting in a more stable and responsive system.
The new server was configured to utilise centralised administration technologies using Group Policy. This included ‘Redirected Folders’ so that the user’s desktop, documents, favourites and other profile settings are stored in a central location on the server. This allows for the centralised management and backup of all the users data using StorageCraft backup software. Other centrally managed features configured through Group Policy included printer/scanner devices and ‘Mapped Network Drives’ to shared company data. As a result, new company workstations can be commissioned and if required, re-imaged with minimum effort as all their settings are automatically configured from the server.
In order to immediately decommission the old HP ProLiant ML350 Gen6 server whilst keeping the existing EFACS accounting software running in the SBS 2009 environment, a Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) conversion was performed. This conversion also involved demoting the SBS 2009 server from being a Domain Controller, removing the Exchange Server software and joining it to the new Windows Server 2016 domain as a member server. The new server specification was capable of handling an upgrade to the new EFACS software when the new release was available.
Peak Support engineers also worked closely with Summerfield Engineering in the pre-sales planning stage to ensure that such things as the phone system client software would work with Office 365 and that the CCTV and Alarm systems would fully integrate with the new system.
“We approached Peak Support as our current server was starting to run slowly and become unreliable, we had delayed replacing the server due to issues with updating our current ERP software. After consultations with the team at Peak Support we were offered a viable solution that would enable us to safely use our current ERP system alongside the Latest Microsoft Server operating system, the solution offered would also have the correct specification for when it was possible to move to the latest platform for our ERP software provider.
The installation was completed out of hours over a weekend, this meant the changeover was seamless. This was impressive as it was not just a new server swap, the upgrade involved moving the Efacs Application and data onto a Virtual machine on the new server and also migrating from Exchange 2007 to a cloud based Office 365 Exchange online platform.
The installation went smoothly and was completed within the schedule and cost quoted. The old EFACS Microsoft SQL database presented a few problems when it was moved to the virtual server, the engineer’s detailed knowledge of the SQL software was very impressive and soon had these issues sorted.
Our office was back up and running in plenty of time for Monday morning, any small teething problems were quickly sorted out and the disruption to our business was very minimal.
The system Peak specified has proved fast and reliable, Office 365 has proved a much better solution for our business providing safe access to our emails and contacts from any location. We have now installed the latest EFACS software and it runs perfectly on the new server.
We are very happy with the service Peak has provided and would definitely use them again in the future.”
— Scott Summerfield