SAS International wanted to move from its legacy on-premise systems and embrace Cloud adoption but had to contend with the challenge of moving over a highly-bespoke environment
SAS International is a leading British manufacturer of quality metal ceilings and bespoke architectural metalwork. Installed in iconic, landmark buildings worldwide – including The Shard, The Gherkin, Bloomberg’s New HQ in London and Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium – SAS leads through innovation, cutting-edge design and technical acoustic expertise. Its success is built on continued investment in manufacturing and achieving value for clients through world-class engineered solutions. The company has recently expanded its export markets and employs nearly 900 staff internationally.
WAN upgrade and Cloud migration
SAS has a highly-diverse IT environment, and the nature of its business means that it operates many bespoke systems that are specific to the industrial sector. Historically, many of these were hosted within on-site ageing servers that had poor connectivity, and the company’s key concerns were reliability and how to boost performance. The company recognised the problem, but with such specialist systems, it wasn’t as easy as simply replacing them, as often an alternative wasn’t available. The modernising of its systems needed to be done gradually; moving away from on-premise where possible and looking at private and public cloud alternatives. SAS International appointed managed services specialist Nasstar, formerly GCI, as its strategic IT supplier, who quickly identified that a key issue was the underlying connectivity.
SAS International now has a much more resilient, cost-effective solution that has allowed the company to embrace Cloud adoption, with 95% of its systems becoming Cloud-based in just three years. It is also experiencing 99.999% uptime, compared to the two to three outages daily that it had previously. By taking a step-by-step approach, SAS International ensured they maintained “business as usual” by running legacy systems alongside the new, ensuring it could modernise without disrupting its mission-critical business processes.
James Greene, Group IT Manager at SAS International, said: “We have a lean IT team so taking this responsibility out of our hands and giving it to Nasstar resolved a huge headache. With their help, we have delivered a step-change. From having zero systems in the Cloud just three years ago, today around 95% are now Cloud-based. This had to be a very carefully-managed transition so as not to disrupt our complex business."
“Finally, there is GDPR. Like every other organisation across the EU, GDPR compliance is a key project; it is our responsibility to ensure that we are secure and that our contracts are documented and detailed, and a “Cloud-first” strategy undoubtedly makes this easier. Thanks to Nasstar we are now future-proofed against further business and regulatory compliance requirements. The solutions we run are tricky to support and virtually everything is bespoke or heavily customised, but Nasstar understood this and has been with us every step of the way.”
Nasstar advised that before any transformational journey could begin, bandwidth and reliability needed to be addressed. Therefore, they immediately upgraded SAS International’s Wide Area Network (WAN), putting in place 200MB circuits at most sites and 100MB bearers at all others. This not only improved reliability but also enabled many core systems to be hosted via a private Cloud in Nasstar's datacentre, offering full failover, backup and business continuity. This also removed the need for SAS International to manage the hypervisors associated with some of the virtualised systems, as Nasstar was able to do this on its behalf.
Nasstar also assisted SAS International with moving its systems across to the Cloud gradually; as the company could not afford any downtime, this ensured it could continue with “business as usual” whilst ensuring that key systems were still fully functional. One such core system which became hosted with Nasstar was SAS International’s industrial applications. The company previously had a legacy version of specialist software provided by Infor; however, it was now able to move to the latest version - Infor CloudSuite Industrial – which helps run advanced operations, strategic analytics, and provides for global growth. Furthermore, the company has now moved its productivity suite to Microsoft Office 365, with Nasstar supplying load balancing tools to ensure even greater reliability.