About Benx

Since its formation in 2002, the Benx Group has grown to become one of the UK’s leading specialist providers of building façade systems. The Benx Group manufacture, customise, sell and advise on the materials for construction including insulation, roofing, cladding etc. The company offers a complete service thereby their Technical Services team provide their expertise of the facades industry and their extensive portfolio of products and systems that meet a variety of certifications to provide engineers, developers, contractors and installers with the best quality service.

Partnered with OGL since: 2019

Company Location: Staffordshire

Company Website: www.benx.co.uk

OGL and CyberGuard modernise the Benx group’s IT infrastructure to improve performance

The Challenge

Prior to partnering with OGL and CyberGuard, Benx had an in-house IT team. Their current IT Manager explained that “my predecessor had been in the company since it started and so had all our hardware. He was only working with what he’d been given but a lot of hardware wasn’t compliant or bought from reputable companies. The business at that time was turning over around £200,000 but now, with a turnover of around £35 million, we needed an infrastructure that could support our growth. We’d grown so quickly that the company hadn’t had chance to evaluate the IT infrastructure, so they continued to put plasters on it rather than focusing on a long-term strategy.”

Benx were running local servers at the Stoke office which had all reached end of life and end of support presenting an exposure for the business. Operating systems were in a similar position and resilience was limited. As the business had grown over time the IT infrastructure had remained static and a complete review of the infrastructure was required. OGL’s IT Solutions Architect, Steve Bennett, reviewed the IT infrastructure across the BENX group of companies and presented them with a report highlighting areas of weakness, security, resilience and, working with their IT Manager, designed a solution to meet the needs of the business.

“It was my job to choose a vendor, so I went out to tender and fortunately OGL won. This was due to OGL’s IT Solutions Architect, Steve Bennett, who filled me with confidence, he really knew his stuff and at that stage in the process you need to be able to believe in the person.”

“We wanted to bring a technology partner on-board because we didn’t have the in-house resource to manage the level of services needed to support Benx. Three years ago, Benx experienced a ransomware attack and this was a big driver in investing in a system upgrade. The company didn’t have full back ups or a tested disaster recovery plan, so it was a shock and left the business down for two to three weeks. It highlighted to us that if you don’t invest in IT you’re going to be in trouble.

“It was my job to choose a vendor, so I went out to tender and fortunately OGL won. This was due to Steve Bennett who filled me with confidence. He really knew his stuff and at that stage in the process you need to be able to believe in the person. Previously our outdated servers couldn’t handle the load and our growth plans, and this was crucial when discussing our options with Steve. Benx needed to invest in a long-term IT solution that was bullet-proof, that enabled us to easily adapt and scale to manage future growth.”

The Solution

OGL and CyberGuard provided Benx with a complete modernisation of their IT and cyber infrastructure to ensure flexibility and scalability for the future. Resilience and growth were important to the organisation, whilst being able to control the cost associated with IT infrastructure and services. A private cloud solution was designed to provide centralised resources to the Benx group of companies located at OGL’s UK data centres to provide high availability, backup and disaster recovery. Email was migrated to Microsoft Office365 to provide global resilience as this was a key factor to the business operation.

To allow for an immediate fix, OGL implemented an interim solution that would enable an improved performance whilst the full overhaul was taking place. The IT Manager explains, “we initially covered the servers and created local, on-site backups with OGL, which gave us a year to make the decision on how we were going to move forward. Using OGL for the interim solution gave us the opportunity to build a relationship and experience their service and response times. This gave us the confidence to choose OGL as our partner to implement our new IT strategy.”

“It’s been a really positive experience with OGL and I hope we can continue to build on that into the future.”

Private Cloud Infrastructure

In 2019 OGL provided a full technology solution to meet the business’ future goals. OGL created a private cloud infrastructure at OGL’s highly secure UK based data centres for added resilience and protection. The solution consists of two HPE rack servers designed around dual processors, 512GB of RAM, redundant power supply units and will boot to VMware hypervisor from an SD card for added resilience. A HPE performance tiered SAN array with both SSD and SAS hard disk technology using auto tiering provided by HPE data suite is directly attached to the host servers to provide high availability.

VMware Essentials Plus is installed as the hyper-visor and will enable virtual servers to exist across the two host servers in a cluster. Using VMware’s vMotion technology, it provides a resilient platform with high availability allowing for a host to be taken offline for maintenance without affecting the live production environment. This works especially well for test and development environments, patch testing and alike.

Microsoft Solutions

Microsoft Windows 2016 Datacentre Server was deployed to provide coverage across the HA cluster allowing for virtual servers to migrate between hosts. This licences the host server by processor cores and allows an unlimited number of virtual servers to be created within the physical resource constraints of the host servers.

Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) was deployed to enable the line of business applications such as Sage 200 to be published either by RemoteApp or Remote Desktop. The RDS servers provide remote access to applications for 65 users as defined Benx.

OGL installed Microsoft SQL Server as a virtual server and will be licensed on a processor core model. This allows for the SQL instances to be consolidated onto a back office SQL server to ease management and to reduce costs. This licence model does not require client access user licences and makes it a more flexible solution to a growing organisation like Benx Group.

Email was migrated over to Microsoft Office365 E3 productivity and collaboration suite. Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics was then deployed to provide enhanced protection, safe links and 2FA to protect the user and administrator accounts to the online management portal.

Backup & Recovery

Backup of the infrastructure is maintained between two UK state-of-the-art data centres and is managed by OGL. Veeam Backup software was installed to automate a backup of the primary infrastructure to a network attached storage device – this provides a fast recovery method in the primary data centre. A secondary backup is also performed to OGL’s secondary data centre to provide geographic separation.

Cyber Security

VMware Carbon Black Next-Gen Anti-Virus with CyberGuard’s Security Operations Centre Support (SOC) was deployed across the endpoints and servers to provide Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) to aid in combatting today’s cyber threats.

OGL and CyberGuard deliver a positive impact and customer experience

“Investing in IT gives everyone a good experience. We’re running much quicker and the teams are more productive. The technology gives us the speed and agility that improves our performance which benefits our customers in the long-term. It also helps me sleep at night because I know the systems are being backed up and managed”, continued Benx IT Manager.

“We are solely dependent on our IT solutions and it’s critical the systems are up and running otherwise we’d have to resort back to paper which would be devastating for the business. This is why we invested heavily in our IT and with OGL. We worked quickly to get the solutions implemented and we worked well together with great communication between us, our project manager, and our engineer. It’s helped us to our have IT and cyber solution under the same group of companies which has meant everything is streamlined and taken care of without interference with third parties.”

“It’s been a really positive experience with OGL and I hope we can continue to build on that into the future.”

“Investing in IT gives everyone a good experience. We’re running much quicker and the teams are more productive. The technology gives us the speed and agility that improves our performance which benefits our customers in the long-term. It also helps me sleep at night because I know the systems are being backed up and managed.”

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