Managed Services Sheds Light on IT Processes At Illuminate

Outsourcing to specialists can help businesses save time and money. But when outsourcing firms themselves outsource business operations, how can they manage to deliver real results from a virtual supply chain? For outsourced print production experts Illuminate, the answer was OnlineDesktop from Intercept.

An increasingly common way to improve the print production process is to outsource a proportion or all of the work. Not only are there considerable cost and time savings to be made, but entrusting this vital work to a specialist offers peace of mind and a chance to use in-house resources more productively. But choosing a reliable trusted outsourced print production partner available 24/7 is impossible without the right technology in place.

Rapid Growth

As one of the fastest growing independents in the UK, supporting growth with cost effective and reliable IT available remotely, was a problem that Illuminate knew only too well. It has doubled in size over the past couple of years by focusing on client needs, and had created an ecosystem of specialist suppliers, but had yet to harness the full potential of this new way of working themselves.

"We are not printers ourselves but instead translate our client requirements into a cost effective print production solution. We then manage the delivery through our excellent relationships with what I call our ecosystem of proficient suppliers", stated John Macdonald, Managing Director, Illuminate UK Limited.

"We produce any conceivable product from letterhead, credit cards, folders, posters, statements, brochures and flyers of any description as well as lots personalised direct mail from a single item to five million direct mail packs!", he added.

This one-stop-shop flexibility is inherent to the way Illuminate works with clients. It offers a truly end-to-end service, and this was what they were now looking for from an outsourced IT partner.

"We needed a system that would improve user performance, increase reliability and yet did not increase our overall costs."

Hosted IT sheds light

Illuminate needed a more reliable and flexible IT solution that supported staff working from client sites or home when required. "We looked at a number of options and felt that an outsourced hosted approach best fitted our overall needs. We were sold on the hosted solution as it fitted so well with our company ethos so we turned to Intercept and its OnlineDesktop solution", commented John Macdonald.

"Our aim is to work with best-of-breed suppliers so we focus on our core competence. That meant extending that thinking into our own IT systems including all our applications such as Microsoft Office, email, accounting, HR, payroll, and Web".

As with many companies the drive for cost saving was not only in the direct equipment purchase and software licence capital costs, but also in the ability to free internal resources and not needing internal IT staff or expensive on-site support contracts.

Moving to a secure future

Illuminate was also aware that an IT failure would be catastrophic to the business. Print production is often last minute with demanding client deadlines and while a backup system was in place, there was no effective disaster recovery plan. "We simply didn't know how long it would take our systems to be back up and running in the event of a problem, and a missed deadline would destroy the trust we've work so hard to build with our clients", stated John.

Intercept hosts Illuminate's software applications and data in a secure datacentre which is replicated for redundancy. Application workload is load balanced across server resources to ensure an extremely high availability service. This is then accessed securely by Illuminate's staff through a direct connection with its offices or via the Internet from other locations.

Illuminate accesses and retrieves data quickly and efficiently as the only data that passes over the communications link to the data centre are encrypted mouse clicks, keyboard strokes and screen updates. This makes for an exceptionally fast response and ensures that the information is safe and secure.

Secure remote working was another critical need for Illuminate as staff often work remotely from client sites or on the road. As a virtual print management firm working with confidential client material security was paramount. The Intercept OnlineDesktop solution uses an additional layer of security using Safeword secure remote access authentication.

"It is critical that we can gain access to our IT systems remotely. OnlineDesktop now allows us to either access data in the office or when we are on the road with full PDA and Blackberry integration", stated John MacDonald.

"As you would expect with a business such as ours we needed an enormous amount of data storage due to the size of the files we work with. This in turn would mean a major capital investment and backup overhead, something we simply did not want to undertake. The hosted solution from Intercept therefore enables us to continue to grow without the need for increased storage costs."

"What really impressed us was the fact that the entire solution took a matter of days to be up and running. Intercept staff really know their stuff and their knowledge is second to none. Once we received our login details and safeword secure remote access keys from Intercept we were all up and running. Over time we have introduced new technology such as Blackberry's, and we are firmly convinced that this solution will enable us to continue to grow in the years to come", concluded John Macdonald.

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