Sapphire Group

Problem:

With an ageing IT infrastructure struggling to keep pace with a rapid growth trajectory, Sapphire Group engaged XCentral to help transform and scale their business through technology.

Solved:

By taking the time to gain a clear picture of the current environment, as well as working with key personnel to understand future objectives, we were able to design a fully integrated hybrid / cloud solution comprising the latest Microsoft products.

This solution transformed their IT from a costly and frustrating headache into a powerful driver of efficiency, productivity and competitive advantage.

XCentral – Sapphire Group Case Study

A SPARKLING IT SOLUTION FOR SAPPHIRE GROUP

With an ageing IT infrastructure struggling to keep pace with a rapid growth trajectory, Sapphire Group engaged XCentral to help transform and scale their business through technology.

Sapphire Group makes premium quality fragrant products, including scented candles, fragrance diffusers and body products, under their Circa Home and Glasshouse Fragrances brands.

Currently employing more than 70 people, the company is one of Australia’s fastest growing designers and manufacturers of home and personal items. Their Sydney headquarters includes an on-site manufacturing facility and their products are distributed through leading retailers.

“Sapphire Group has experienced tremendous growth. We’ve grown in excess of 30, 40, 50% year on year for the last three years and we have very aggressive growth plans. Hence it was very important to implement systems now before we embark on our next three years.”
Nicole Eckels, Co-founder & Creative Director, Sapphire Group

CHALLENGE

Since 2006, Sapphire Group has enjoyed well over 30% year on year growth. However, as the business evolved and flourished, the IT environment became stretched and disjointed.

Management identified that their legacy technology environment was creating inefficiencies, holding back productivity and placing business continuity at risk. Put simply, the IT had become a hindrance rather than a driver of growth.

Out-dated hardware was struggling to cope with day-to-day operations, the manual on-site backup process was inefficient, insecure and exceeding the data storage capacity. There was also a lack of software standardisation, with three versions of Microsoft Office across the organisation as one example.

“We have a very dynamic, fast-growing business that was effectively hamstrung by an aging IT platform that just didn’t support our needs.”
Kate Stevenson, Managing Director, Sapphire Group

New user provision was both inefficient and inconsistent, taking as long as two days to get a new employee up and running with access to passwords, internal systems and applications.

Remote access to business systems, files and email was slow and unreliable. With staff operating from offices in Wetherill Park and Lane Cove, as well as remote workers across Australia and China, this poor user experience was a significant loss of productivity.

“Our IT was a major stumbling block to performance and growth.
We lacked the necessary storage space and scalability, we had patchy remote access and connectivity, plus our internal resources were stuck dealing with time-consuming IT issues rather than focusing on their main business activities.”

Paul Hoad, Chief Financial Officer, Sapphire Group

OPPORTUNITY

Sapphire Group realised they needed to take a fresh look at their IT environment with a holistic approach to what the business needed today, and into the future.

To achieve this, they started searching for a trusted, long-term partnership with an experienced IT provider – one that could provide full consultancy, implementation and support services.

Recognising XCentral’s status as one of Australia’s leading technology service providers to small businesses, Sapphire Group engaged us to completely overhaul their IT environment and deliver a robust, flexible and scalable end-to-end technology solution.

As part of this solution, Sapphire Group needed fast and reliable remote access to business systems, less reliance on costly and cumbersome physical infrastructure, secure and scalable data storage and backup, improved redundancy, availability, disaster recovery and business continuity planning, and a unified application experience across the organisation.

“XCentral made it very easy. They spent time to work out what we needed to do. Their recommendation was tight and cost effective and the handover was seamless. Their aftersales service has been great. So this has become a great business partnership.”
Kate Stevenson, Managing Director, Sapphire Group

SOLUTION

By taking the time to gain a clear picture of the current environment, as well as working with key personnel to understand future objectives, we were able to design a fully integrated hybrid / cloud solution comprising the latest Microsoft products.

This solution transformed their IT from a costly and frustrating headache into a powerful driver of efficiency, productivity and competitive advantage.

“The transformation has far exceeded my expectations.
In terms of productivity and efficiencies with the business, the time that we were wasting prior to this new platform was significant, and now that time wasting is zero.”

Kate Stevenson, Managing Director, Sapphire Group

The technology

Sapphire Group’s solution encompassed 44 user workstations / laptops, 44 mailboxes,
two physical servers (on-site) and seven virtual servers. We adopted a hybrid mix of on-premise and cloud-based products and technology, including:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Servers with Hyper-V Image Replication

  • Windows 8.1 Enterprise 

  • Surface Pro 2

  • Ofice 365

  • Office 2013 Professional Plus 

  • Lync 2013 

  • SharePoint

  • OneDrive 

  • Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Direct Access

  • Active Directory with DirSyc to Office 365

  • Replicated DFS namespace

  • User profile folder re-direction 

  • Volume Licensing with Key Management Services for automated activation 

  • License Stacking for Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard 

  • Windows Deployment Services (WDS) with Automated SOE deployment 

  • Windows Bitlocker encryption for mobile devices to protect IP

The benefits

By delivering a robust, flexible and scalable platform that leverages enterprise-grade cloud technology to complement on-site infrastructure, XCentral has completely transformed Sapphire Group’s IT environment and their ability to meet evolving business demands.

Employees now enjoy fast, reliable and seamless remote access to emails and business systems, anywhere, any time and on any managed mobile device. What’s more, the new streamlined and unified operating environment (including systems and applications) has led to greater workplace efficiencies and user satisfaction. For example, remote login access is now over 900% faster! Where it would previously take multiple steps and anywhere up to 10 minutes – it is now up and running in less than 60 seconds.

“With the old system it could be anything up to 10 minutes before I could actually access the server, whereas now it’s simply a matter of turning on the laptop.
The Sales Team now have quicker access than ever before, and can now open their laptop and within seconds access the remote server, so we look really slick and professional in front of our customers.“

Georgia MacKinnon, Sales Director, Sapphire Group

Additionally, core Line of Business (LoB) applications are now configured once only, which results in quicker and easier provision of new users, less time micro-managing individual devices, and better control over application versions and the operating environment in general.

Cost savings

XCentral’s solution has delivered a number of cost savings for Sapphire Group, including improved productivity with faster and smoother system access, flexible and scalable pay-per-user cloud licensing, and the inclusion of Office 2013 with the Office 365 subscription. License stacking also significantly reduced the reliance on expensive infrastructure by enabling the use of virtual rather than physical servers.

Whereas previously a key staff member would lose up to 35% of their time managing IT issues, he is now able to focus on his core responsibilities

“The Microsoft platform has given us much improved ease of use
and far better access to information more quickly.”

Kate Stevenson, Managing Director, Sapphire Group

Peace of mind

XCentral now provides Sapphire Group with a fully managed IT service with proactive support, as well as software assurance to take care of future software upgrades. Enterprise-grade backup, storage and disaster recovery solutions, with Office365 for hosted email, SharePoint for document version control and Lync for instant messaging, all combine to a robust business platform. Everything Sapphire Group needs to head confidently into a sparkling future full of profitable business opportunities.

“As our IT partner XCentral looks after all our technology needs; we have a unified user experience across the organisation where core LoB applications are centrally managed and deployed; and we have a highly robust, secure and scalable platform that can support our long-term business growth objectives.”
Paul Hoad, Chief Financial Officer, Sapphire Group

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Deborah Hutton
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Thanks guys! I really appreciate how fast you get back to me every time. Friendly and responsive service seems to be rare in this industry. I’m particularly thrilled with the remote support.