Improve Security and Functionality of IT Systems for Midlands Holdings

Midlands Holdings

BACKGROUND

Midlands Holdings Limited (Midlands) approached iTOPS with a request to improve their network security and current email solution.

Midlands required advice and assistance in the selection and implementation of suitable solutions.

REQUIREMENT

To provide a solution that would deliver the required improvements to the network security, offer single sign-on capability, and enable easily accessible, with restricted file sharing, and migrate the existing email system to a Microsoft Exchange email solution, whilst minimising the disruptive impact of these changes on users.

SOLUTION

Following a period of consultation, we considered potential solutions with the Midlands System Administrator.  During this consultation phase, the scope and requirement were further defined which resulted in the decision to adopt Office365 for hosted Exchange functionality.  We further discussed the virtues of a full cloud-based solution, with hosted servers, contrasted with a hybrid solution, utilising some local servers.  By working closely with the team at Midlands, we also gained an understanding of their environment, the complexities and scope of the project, identifying additional configuration opportunities.  We discussed separating the implementation into two phases, initially migrating Midlands email system, then networking sites and adding an Active Directory server for security, single sign-on, and to provision file sharing.

We presented Midlands Holdings with a solution overview and project plan for each phase.  The email migration was estimated to take 45 hours, and the systems and security implementation 180 hours.

We started with the smaller email migration, which allowed us to gain more familiarity with Midlands systems, and ease users onto the new environment.  Through adoption of Office 365, ITOPS enabled seamless access to data, whether through email client, web portal, or via a mobile device.  It also allowed the retirement, and cessation of support, for two Linux servers.

ITOPS scoped and quoted network firewalls to provide remote access and network sites.  We reconfigured existing network switches and wireless access points, to provide separate guest networks, and to address IP address schemes overlapping between their various sites.  Once completed, we established Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections between sites, enabling the ability to have centralised security and file sharing, as well as SSL VPN capability for remote user access.

The solution saw the implementation of a server, with Active Directory and Azure AD connect, for local and Office365 single sign-on authentication. Remote desktop licensing was added, which combined with added VPN functionality, allowed for the consolidation and retirement of three remote access systems, to a single existing server.  File shares and security groups were established, reconfiguring every computer and server to be part of a Windows security domain, enabling authentication to access resources at a single user logon. Enhanced monitored antivirus and local backups with secure offsite replication of data were implemented, and file share data migrated to the new server, resulting in the retirement of the existing NAS.

ITOPS completed the project by providing a formal handover to the Midlands’ Systems Administrator, along with extensive documentation on the new systems environment and network.

REFERRAL

“Midlands had more than doubled its staff numbers in the last 18 months, which had put pressure on all our IT systems and processes. At the time the IT system worked, but our IT security and processes were very basic. We recently had a virus that wiped all data from the server, which took the most part of a weekend to recover. There was a clear need to have a more robust system in place, to better manage and protect our data, and systems.

ITOPS helped us understand where the issues were that we had, and what might work for us if we were to change systems. With each proposal, ITOPS outlined what was required to take us from where we were with our Linux based system and Zarafa email, to where we are today

I would certainly have no issue using the ITOPS team again for a big project like this. All the team proved to be very capable in problem solving issues, and finding a solution. The migration was a complex one due to the systems we had in place, but was implemented well, and on budget.”

CHARLES WOOD
General Manager // Midlands Seed Ltd
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“I would certainly have no issue using the ITOPS team again for a big project like this. All the team proved to be very capable in problem solving issues, and finding a solution.”
CHARLES WOOD
General Manager // Midlands Seed Ltd