Property management company Grant Property Solutions had a roomful of majorly outdated servers that were not fit to purpose – so the business contacted Dell Services which planned a move to Dell Cloud on Demand with Azure.
Grant Property’s existing setup consisted of a “bunch of out-of-warranty servers”, says IT manager Cassidy Macfarlane. “We had a headcount of 23 servers in the server room, all of which were out of warranty. The decision was then on the table as to whether to upgrade or replace that physical or on-premise architecture, or look at the cloud solutions that were in the market.”
More than 8,000 tenants in over 2,000 properties are on the books of Grant Property Solutions, plus 100 remote workers needed access to vital business documents outside of the office. Rather than replacing the knackered physical servers, Grant Property managed to get the ball running on moving to the cloud, cutting down on costs and simplifying the whole process.
The business reviewed its options – having a look at AWS, Azure, and the rest – before decided that, because the company was a Microsoft shop, Azure would be the best bet.
Grant Property already had Dell desktops that also needed to be replace so got in touch with that company, who then recommended Dell Services. Through Dell Services, Grant Property was alerted to Azure VM Management, identified exactly the sort of infrastructure it needed, and tried to figure out the best candidates for migration to the cloud.
“We created an entirely new domain and with our new Dell desktop PCs logged directly onto our domain controllers hosted as VMs in Azure cloud, managed by Dell,” Macfarlane says. “Dell did the actual building of the VMs then we logged onto those machines, created our users, integrated with 365, and we’ve gradually been rolling out more and more services and migrating from on-prem to the Azure-hosted Dell VMs.”
The business picked Azure largely because the owner believes in interoperability and the company was already a Microsoft shop. But also, Grant Property wanted to avoid being locked in any disputes with third-parties when it was trying to deliver a service.
“You want to be using new technology and taking advantage of using it,” Macfarlane says. “However, we’ve all had experience in third-parties blaming each other. Let’s say you have a custom application developed and a custom mailing solution, then you’ve got to have the two of them talking to each other – so therefore you need another custom bolt-on to join them together. You end up being held to ransom by three separate third-parties, who are all blaming each other for the issues.
“If you go for the big name brand, the Microsofts, the Dells,” Macfarlane explains. “If you’re trying to connect one Microsoft thing to another Microsoft thing, it’s guaranteed someone else has tried to do that before – and there’s all that shared knowledge you can build on. You can go to Microsoft, or in my case Dell Services, as the first port of call to resolve any issues that arise.”
As far as the immediate business benefits go, Macfarlane says that it’s nice to actually be able to run new technologies – prior to this deployment the company was running Server 2003, and leapfrogged all of those releases to find itself running the latest versions of “everything”.
There’s also the uptime, of course: using old and failing kit meant that unscheduled restarts or servers grinding to a halt blockaded the operations of the business.
“That whole thing has gone away,” he says. “And our servers are, touching wood, getting the uptime we’re looking for from that kind of infrastructure.”