Customer Story

Interconnect Systems: Building a better business from email up

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Thanks to high availability and uptime SLA with Gmail, South African computing hardware provider Interconnect Systems achieves its own SLAs to keep customers content.

Google Cloud Results

From chronic instability to zero downtime

• Eliminates the problem of email instability with zero downtime on Gmail

• Simplifies procurement with requests through Google Forms compiled in Google Sheets

• Builds teams with group meetings on Google Hangouts Meet

Interconnect Systems has 600 employees at 17 branches who design, supply, install, and maintain connectivity hardware for everything from data centres to surveillance systems. And because the company offers a 24-hour support service for its clients, good communication is vital.

“Reliable email is mission critical for our company,” explains Morne Venter, ICT Manager at Interconnect Systems. “Email is the way we communicate with our clients and the way they log calls with us. We have SLAs with our customers, so if they log something and we don’t receive it, or we respond to something and they don’t get our response, then we breach our SLA, which costs us financially and in terms of our reputation.”

This meant that when Interconnect Systems began to suffer email reliability problems, it was a problem that went to the heart of the company’s business model. “With our previous on-premises email servers, we were down more than we were up,” says Morne. “We had endless problems that we inherited from previous managers and users, which meant our email solution was very unhealthy.”

“With our previous on-premises email servers, we were down more than we were up. We had endless problems that we inherited from previous managers and users, which meant our email solution was very unhealthy.” Morne Venter, ICT Manager, Interconnect Systems

In addition to resolving uptime problems, Interconnect Systems looked for a cost-effective solution that could give its mobile workforce access to the information they needed on the road and on site.

“With our previous email solution, there were many days when people would send emails to clients—statements, invoices, and other important documents—only to find out later that afternoon or the next day that the emails didn't arrive,” says Morne. “They would then need to track back and check what was delivered. And because the queues of backed-up email were so long, when the server was up again, it could take between 30 minutes and 3 hours to get all of the emails out. It had a huge business impact.”

Creating a stable system

In any company, the consequences of an unreliable or slow email solution can be disastrous. For Interconnect Systems, a highly unstable email solution could make it impossible to fulfil vital SLAs with customers, causing serious damage to the company’s reputation and generating unnecessary additional costs. Interconnect Systems looked to replace its email system with a new, cost-effective solution that could deliver highly available email for its teams at 17 locations across South Africa, both in their offices, and in the field.

To do that, Interconnect Systems switched to Gmail and G Suite. “I made a few phone calls and saw what the price of a new server and licenses for our old solution would cost,” says Morne. “There would have been a significant layout in terms of financial capital to get everything ready, and it would have needed upgrading every three or four years. With G Suite, it’s just a monthly fee, which works out a lot cheaper, and there are no upgrades necessary. If something changes, it’s instant. You get a notification, and it’s done. We moved to Gmail in March 2015 and we’ve been online ever since, with no downtime and no hassles.”

“With G Suite, it’s just a monthly fee, which works out a lot cheaper, and there are no upgrades necessary. If something changes, it’s instant. You get a notification, and it’s done. We moved to Gmail in March 2015 and we’ve been online ever since, with no downtime and no hassles.” Morne Venter, ICT Manager, Interconnect Systems

With unlimited storage in Gmail, Morne and his team no longer have to worry about backing up email. There’s no need to backup, and, because it’s accessible through a browser, teams can use Gmail from anywhere at anytime. But some of the biggest advantages were totally unexpected, and didn’t come from Gmail at all. “G Suite gave me a whole new perspective about what the system was capable of and what you could do,” says Morne. “It's made a huge difference in the way we communicate.”

Now, instead of calling each other for every detail, staff use Google Hangouts Meet to speak with their whole team, rather than using unofficial messaging apps. “With Google Hangouts Meet we can open a meeting room for sales, for example,” explains Morne. “Everyone from sales across the country can get into it and discuss their work.” When staff need to procure new equipment, they enter their requests into a Google Form, which populates in Google Sheets, which is consulted by management when making purchasing decisions. Even the financial department has embraced the collaborative trend, working more and more with Google Sheets, so that its staff can work simultaneously on spreadsheets from multiple locations.

“When I travel to different branches, I sometimes go just with my tablet, because that’s all I need,” says Morne. “Recently, I was on site and a user told me that, in the past when a client asked for a drawing, he would make notes on a notepad, go back to the office, search for the drawings, and then email them to the client. Now, he's got everything at hand in G Suite, so he just flips his phone out and sends it from there, directly from the meeting.”

Working with the right partner

“Our aim is to get rid of all the servers that we still have on site. Our users have invested in, and they really see the benefit of, G Suite now. I think we'll achieve even more in the next six months than we've achieved in the past two years.” Morne Venter, ICT Manager, Interconnect Systems

Interconnect Systems credits Opennetworks as a huge help in the migration to G Suite, not only in the implementation of the tools, but also in providing supporting documents and slideshows to make the case for the change. “We needed a good partner, and I'm glad they phoned me,” says Morne. “They really helped us with the rollout and were supportive all of the way through. It’s been a very good relationship.”

Phasing out servers

Approaching two years since the migration, Interconnect Systems has experienced zero downtime, eliminating the problem the company looked to address. With 383 active users on G Suite, all of Interconnect Systems’ key personnel are connected with the new tools. Meanwhile, Morne is preparing the business for a move to Google Drive File Stream, to enable an effective hybrid solution that backs up data from all areas without servers.

“Our aim is to get rid of all the servers that we still have on site,” says Morne. “Our users have invested and they really see the benefit of G Suite now. I think we'll achieve even more in the next six months than we've achieved in the past two years. People are exploring. They know it's here to stay.”

Deployment Partner (G Suite authorized reseller)

Opennetworks

Established in 2000, Opennetworks is a Google Cloud Premier Partner, helping organisations from a range of sectors adapt to cloud-based infrastructure and navigate the Google ecosystem.