Like any business, Nu-Con would like piece of mind when it comes to its IT infrastructure.
The company’s Auckland manufacturing division is the hub of the business, so it is important that the division’s processes run smoothly at optimum pace, production is never interrupted due to server downtime, and critical files are safe.
Nu-Con had operated successfully on Microsoft® Small Business Server 4.5 and then 2000 for some years, but had outgrown the dated system as well as its hardware. The old server was starting to run out of space and was beginning to need frequent, and costly, maintenance.
With its heritage with Small Business Server, an upgrade to the latest version, combined with a hardware upgrade, was the natural thing for Nu-Con to do, since the company knew it was the right fit for its business.
Now, with a stable and secure Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 platform, with plenty of data storage, Nu-Con has improved manufacturing and communication processes and, with the support of its IT partner, has a proactive plan for server security and maintenance. After a hard day’s work, the company can rest easy at night.
The business had been operating on the older Small Business Server 2000 version, but with increased data capacity requirements the server was running too slow to be efficient. The old infrastructure was also starting to require costly maintenance.
||Small Business Server 2003 is stable and secure, so I have a feeling of ease about how my IT infrastructure is operating. It has also significantly increased the speed and quality of my business’ processes. It really is the perfect platform for where my business is now, and where it will be as we grow into the future.
HP ML 350, with Small Business Server 2003 - standard server edition pre-installed.
Needing more of everything
Food and pharmaceutical manufacture, from the raw product through to its packaged state, is a long and complicated process. It necessitates complex machinery and controlled systems to ensure the products are of a high quality.
New Zealand-born Nu-Con is renowned as a market leader internationally, supplying powder handling systems of all types to store, convey, blend, screen, weigh, mill, transport, discharge and pack dry bulk and semi-solid powders and granules.
This high grade business, supplying food and pharmaceutical manufacturers in both the domestic and international markets, has operated on Small Business Server for many years, including Small Business Server 4.5 and 2000.
Brian Day, Director, Nu-Con, says the company’s constant growth and increased complexity meant it had outgrown its existing infrastructure.
“Our existing server was running out of storage space, meaning its performance was less than adequate,” says Day.
“For example, we run two information intensive design packages, Solid Works and CAD 2000, from two of our workstations. With limited space on our server for these application’s support files, the process from design to manufacture was operating too slowly to be efficient. We struggled on with our old server, but we didn’t utilise the resource to its fullest potential.
“Also, to support our continued business growth we are looking to bring in new software programmes, such as a new planning system. We needed a server that could easily integrate and support any new software we would introduce in the future.”
Meanwhile, with its large customers in the US market, Nu-Con needed to ensure its administration met the stringent requirements of that market, as Brian Day explains.
“Our US customers are very particular about the documentation they need, in terms of support manuals and accurate spare parts schedules,” he says.
“This means we have to be particularly organised in that area. We have a lot of databases that cover off what they need, so again our server needed to be able to handle that information.
“With our successful past history with Microsoft Small Business Server, we agreed with our technology partner Lansoft’s recommendation that Small Business Server 2003 was the perfect fit for where our business was now, and where we wanted to head in the future.”
Brian Day explains that the implementation went extremely smoothly.
“The roll over went very well, thanks to Lansoft’s support and Small Business Server’s new migration tools,” says Day. “It makes a difference when your IT partner has an intimate knowledge of your existing IT situation, has the best product solution and plan to implement that solution.”
A team of two from Lansoft timed the roll over to Small Business Server 2003 on a weekend, to ensure minimal disruption to Nu-Con's normal operations.
Lansoft’s Michael Inglis explains that Small Business Server 2003 is an easy product to roll out.
“As Nu-Con needed both new hardware and software, we recommended the option of a Hewlett-Packard server with Small Business Server 2003 pre-installed,” Inglis says. “Being pre-installed meant there were good cost savings for the business.
“Small Business Server also has built-in migration tools, so the upgrade from the old version was quick and easy, reducing the time it took to migrate data across, again keeping implementation costs to a minimum.
“From my experience, Small Business Server has come a long way. Its migration tools are extremely good, so we could just sit the old server next to the new server and migrate the company’s files across seamlessly.”
Productivity improved – no more waiting
Once implemented, Small Business Server 2003’s positive impact on the business’ productivity was immediate.
In the past, the business’ two “large” design applications, would take a long time to process through the system, and staff would have a lengthy wait while opening the files. Now, there is no more waiting.
“We noticed the increased speed of our design programmes straight away,” says Day. “The documents and files that support these applications are now stored on the central server, providing more space on our PCs. This additional space allows the files to be opened and manipulated much faster.
“It has also allowed us to increase the quality of our specifications, in effect helping us make our products more upmarket, because we can now cope with the increased size of more complicated design information.”
Communication - an integral part of doing business
Timely and regular communication between staff and customers is crucial to running a successful business.
Like many small businesses Nu-Con relies heavily on email, and as Microsoft® Exchange Server 2003 is part of Small Business Server 2003, Nu-Con has gained the added benefits of the latest Microsoft® Outlook® 2003 email and calendar.
Brian Day says the company uses Outlook to its fullest potential.
“We couldn’t run our business without Outlook 2003,” says Day. “We use it for email, for managing our contacts and to book meetings.
“We had been using Exchange 2000 in the past, but one of the latest version’s main advantages that we are utilising is the remote email facility. This facility allows me to access my email from home through a VPN (Virtual Private Network), ensuring I can keep on top of my business at any time of the day.”
Small Business Server 2003 brings piece of mind
Small businesses, most of which don’t have an internal IT manager, want piece of mind when it comes to their IT infrastructure.
Brian Day: “I want to be able to get on with running the business without any IT headaches. It is no good to me to have computers falling down, resulting in production downtime.
“Our new server, in effect, just sits there quietly doing its thing. We aren’t conscious of it, and that is a good thing. It is doing everything correctly and efficiently and we have no worries about it.”
Michael Inglis adds that by implementing a new, well managed disaster recovery plan, the company should never feel the pain of a system failure.
“Using the built-in health monitoring and reporting tools Small Business Server 2003 offers, we can track the performance of the servers remotely from Lansoft.”
Inglis adds that Lansoft’s on-going support agreement with Nu-Con also means he acts as the company’s ‘virtual IT manager’.
“Having a virtual IT manager, means Nu-Con gets the benefit of having an IT person without the cost,” says Inglis.
“We have also put together a maintenance support package which has a proactive approach. Rather than waiting for something to break, we can easily identify potential problems before they become an issue. Small Business Server 2003 makes this approach easy.”
Meanwhile, Small Business Server 2003 provides a secure, centralised location to store critical business data, such as Nu-Con’s component design information, that can’t be re-produced. At the end of each day, this data is backed up onto a tape drive and the tapes are taken off site.
Small Business Server 2003 also has an internal firewall to keep malicious attackers off Nu-Con’s network, and offers wizards that simplify the security settings, while ensuring that all necessary precautions are taken.
“We’ve always been conscious of security, but luckily it has never been an issue for us,” says Day. “In saying that, we feel good about the security offered through Small Business Server 2003, particularly its dedicated firewall. In the past we used the individual PC firewalls, which made it more difficult to monitor and keep up-to-date.
“Overall, the frustration I felt with the old system has gone. Small Business Server 2003 is stable and secure, so I now have a feeling of ease about how my IT infrastructure is operating. It has also significantly increased the speed and quality of my business’ processes. It really is the perfect platform for where my business is now, and where it will be as we grow into the future.”
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