IT Support

FingersanFingersan Feels At HomeRegistered Posts: 84
Good afternoon everyone

I have a question, which I hope somebody may be able to help me with and it relates to IT support for my practice.

In the past, my former employer, whom is making me a partner on 1 April :001_smile:, has used the services of an individual, on an ad hoc basis, who she has used for the past 20 years or so. Unfortunately, he is now becoming unrealiable and so I have made a few enquiries with some IT firms for support. We have approx 10 pc's and a server.

Can anybody recommend a good IT company in Kent?

Many thanks for your help.

Comments

  • PGMPGM Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,954
    Whoever you get, really grill them about their network & server skills. There's a lot of IT out there good at standalone workstations but weak on the server side.
  • jamesm96jamesm96 Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 523
    We currently use a company called 'LittleFish' and we're in Kent (Ashford). I believe we pay around £9 per month per workstation for unlimited remote support, and we pay £140 per month for unlimited remote and on-site support on our server (n.b. we've actually never needed to have any on-site support so we're considering changing to remote-only on the server to save costs).

    We did have some issues with them in the past but not for a while now; whenever I or my colleagues have needed them recently they've been very efficient. We currently have some problems with email access on mobile devices and the guys there are working very hard to work out what the problem is.

    If you want something a little more local (LittleFish are nationwide) then there's a company in Greenhithe called 'GWT Media', I haven't used them personally but I know a couple of the guys there and I understand them to be pretty professional; their number is 0300 303 8058 and ask to speak to Richard Thompson or Ian Bunyan and tell them Mike James gave you their number.
  • FingersanFingersan Feels At Home Registered Posts: 84
    Thanks very much PGM and Mike. Mike, I will give the chaps at GWT a call.

    Many thanks
  • jamesm96jamesm96 Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 523
    Fingersan wrote: »
    Thanks very much PGM and Mike. Mike, I will give the chaps at GWT a call.

    Many thanks

    Hi Fingersan... We're shopping around for our own IT support again just to make sure we're getting the best deal. Did you ever speak to GWT? I just wonder how you found them?

    Cheers,

    Mike.
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,069
    This is really interesting, simply because I have 5 PCs and a server, and I don't have any official IT support, nor have I ever felt it necessary. Am I missing something?
  • PGMPGM Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,954
    Monsoon wrote: »
    This is really interesting, simply because I have 5 PCs and a server, and I don't have any official IT support, nor have I ever felt it necessary. Am I missing something?

    I have 80 machines and 11 servers. Just myself and a colleague look after them. We do have some support contracts for the hardware side.

    As long as you have a good back up system in place and know it works you should be fine? You obviously have some IT skills to do that and keep it running.
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,069
    Thanks PGM, that makes me feel better! :)

    My boyfriend set up our server and can help when that needs (which is rare). And yes, I guess I'm suitably IT literate to be able to cope with most other stuff that comes up.

    Fingers crossed! :lol:
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,069
    Monsoon wrote: »
    My boyfriend

    I mean fiance!

    Bad Monsoon :lol:
  • jamesm96jamesm96 Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 523
    Until about three years ago I used to look after ours too, until it completely crashed and I had to spend a week buying and building a completely new server and migrating / importing all of the necessary data. The lost fees from my time were a few thousand so we took the decision to take on a support contract and make that sort of thing someone else's problem.

    I also get a fair few phone calls / emails from colleagues with little issues on email / printer problems... etc and it's just not sensible for me to spend my time dealing with it.

    We also use Exchange Server which has certain maintenance requirements which are beyond my ability.
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,069
    jamesm96 wrote: »
    We also use Exchange Server which has certain maintenance requirements
    It does? :001_huh:

    I must have a very well-behaved set up! :thumbup:

    If it ever crashes, I'm paying to get someone else in, not something I'd do myself, but day-to-day stuff is minimal.

    I pay for a remote backup, and the guy that does it does all that on my server; everything else takes care of itself, thank goodness.
  • PGMPGM Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,954
    jamesm96 wrote: »
    We also use Exchange Server which has certain maintenance requirements which are beyond my ability.
    Monsoon wrote: »
    It does? :001_huh:

    Setting it up was the tricky bit, its surprising how much of the set up is still done mostly through scripts. But once this was set this up and MX records adjusted, I found exchange much smoother to use than our old email Lotus notes. Even picks up all the user info from active directory!
  • jamesm96jamesm96 Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 523
    PGM wrote: »
    Setting it up was the tricky bit, its surprising how much of the set up is still done mostly through scripts. But once this was set this up and MX records adjusted, I found exchange much smoother to use than our old email Lotus notes. Even picks up all the user info from active directory!

    Yeah I suppose, in fairness, when I say 'maintenance' I guess I really mean setup (setting the server up and setting up the backup) but you're right; once it is set up it's not much to worry about; I just like to know that if the backup goes wrong then it's not my fault!

    So, Monsoon, something goes wrong and you call an engineer out... do you mind me asking what your estimate would be of the cost of doing that for twelve months?
  • PGMPGM Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,954
    jamesm96 wrote: »
    Yeah I suppose, in fairness, when I say 'maintenance' I guess I really mean setup (setting the server up and setting up the backup) but you're right; once it is set up it's not much to worry about; I just like to know that if the backup goes wrong then it's not my fault!

    I thought everything was going smoothly until an update stopped it working, error messages didn't make sense, there'd been some error which had created a huge tempory file when exchange then decided to stop some of its services.
    So, Monsoon, something goes wrong and you call an engineer out... do you mind me asking what your estimate would be of the cost of doing that for twelve months?

    I do like doing our own back up, I frequently recover things, so I know its working. If I was relying on an outside party I'd want them to do regulary system checks, as there's nothing worse than wanting something recovering only to find that its not part of the back up..
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,069
    jamesm96 wrote: »
    So, Monsoon, something goes wrong and you call an engineer out... do you mind me asking what your estimate would be of the cost of doing that for twelve months?
    No idea. It all depends whether my other half can fix it or not. :thumbup1:

    Well done for setting Exchange up on your own - far beyond my meagre skills! I know the set-up I've got would have cost 4 figures to set up had I paid commercial rates.

    I certainly don't see any need for paying for a maintenance contract. My time spent on IT is minimal so at the moment it wouldn't be cost effective.

    I pay £10 a month for a managed backup service.
  • jamesm96jamesm96 Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 523
    PGM wrote: »
    I do like doing our own back up, I frequently recover things, so I know its working. If I was relying on an outside party I'd want them to do regulary system checks, as there's nothing worse than wanting something recovering only to find that its not part of the back up..

    We do both; we have remote backup of our shared drives, our SQL database and our Exchange, all of the drives inside the server are mirrored so there's instant redundancy protection, and we also do a daily backup on-site (which stays on site) too. We've had to get the remote guys to restore a few files and they've been great; we get daily emails from them with a report on the backup status.

    I certainly don't see any need for paying for a maintenance contract. My time spent on IT is minimal so at the moment it wouldn't be cost effective.
    Monsoon wrote:
    I pay £10 a month for a managed backup service.

    For how much data? We pay £0.10 per Gb which is one of the best rates I could find at the time... have things moved on that much?
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,440
    I'm with monsoon on this. We have 3 machines plus a server. My step dad and brother are IT geeks so they did all the set up.

    I'm pretty confortable with most things and when things occaisionally go wrong they are usually able to sort it if I can't.

    Most problems can be sorted with a bit of knowledge and a google search!!!
    Regards,

    Burg
  • jamesm96jamesm96 Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 523
    burg wrote: »
    Most problems can be sorted with a bit of knowledge and a google search!!!

    Lol... this just reminded me that, whilst trying to fix something on our server a couple of years ago I subscribed to 'Experts Exchange'.

    My boss (our senior partner) saw the bill on the credit card for www.expertsexchange.co.uk and read it as Expert Sex Change, so took me to one side for a quiet chat!
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,069
    jamesm96 wrote: »
    We do both; we have remote backup of our shared drives, our SQL database and our Exchange, all of the drives inside the server are mirrored so there's instant redundancy protection, and we also do a daily backup on-site (which stays on site) too. We've had to get the remote guys to restore a few files and they've been great; we get daily emails from them with a report on the backup status.
    Sounds almost identical to our set-up.
    For how much data? We pay £0.10 per Gb which is one of the best rates I could find at the time... have things moved on that much?

    Dunno! I have a 50G quota and I know the guy who runs it and trust him. I know I can get it cheaper but it's a managed service and I like him.
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,069
    jamesm96 wrote: »
    Lol... this just reminded me that, whilst trying to fix something on our server a couple of years ago I subscribed to 'Experts Exchange'.

    My boss (our senior partner) saw the bill on the credit card for www.expertsexchange.co.uk and read it as Expert Sex Change, so took me to one side for a quiet chat!

    :lol:
  • PGMPGM Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,954
    jamesm96 wrote: »
    We do both; we have remote backup of our shared drives, our SQL database and our Exchange, all of the drives inside the server are mirrored so there's instant redundancy protection, and we also do a daily backup on-site (which stays on site) too. We've had to get the remote guys to restore a few files and they've been great; we get daily emails from them with a report on the backup status.

    I've been trialing virtualisation for a few years. And thats the system we chose to put in earlier this year. Our 7 key servers run in a virtual environment on 2 physical servers. Which are both connected to a seperate bank of hard drives.

    Its not as complex as it sounds, the software that controls it all is very good.

    What is means is I can go into the server room and remove any part of a machine and all of our 80 users will be unaffected. There's double redundancy built into everything. Even if I switch a server off the other one will take over automatically. Its clever stuff :)
  • jamesm96jamesm96 Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 523
    PGM wrote: »
    I've been trialing virtualisation for a few years. And thats the system we chose to put in earlier this year. Our 7 key servers run in a virtual environment on 2 physical servers. Which are both connected to a seperate bank of hard drives.

    Its not as complex as it sounds, the software that controls it all is very good.

    What is means is I can go into the server room and remove any part of a machine and all of our 80 users will be unaffected. There's double redundancy built into everything. Even if I switch a server off the other one will take over automatically. Its clever stuff :)

    That sounds very interesting. So, if one server goes down, the other is okay to keep all your services running while the first gets fixed?

    What's the hardware cost for that?
  • jamesm96jamesm96 Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 523
    Monsoon wrote: »
    Sounds almost identical to our set-up.



    Dunno! I have a 50G quota and I know the guy who runs it and trust him. I know I can get it cheaper but it's a managed service and I like him.

    No, I've put that completely wrong (I don't know where I got 10p from!) We pay £0.79 per Gb. So for your 50Gb we'd be paying £39.50 per month.
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,069
    jamesm96 wrote: »
    No, I've put that completely wrong (I don't know where I got 10p from!) We pay £0.79 per Gb. So for your 50Gb we'd be paying £39.50 per month.

    :lol:

    http://www.considerit.co.uk/services/remote-online-backup/
  • PGMPGM Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,954
    jamesm96 wrote: »
    That sounds very interesting. So, if one server goes down, the other is okay to keep all your services running while the first gets fixed?

    What's the hardware cost for that?

    Yep, the other takes over if one suddenly fails. There's only a brief pause as the other server connects to the data banks. Both servers need to be set up and ready to run any of the 7 virtual servers held in the bank of hard drives.

    But even each server has 4 network sockets, two psu's. So they shouldn't fail easily, but overall the odds of a failure is much less likely to fail compared to a traditional set up.

    Cost was thirty odd thousand...
  • jamesm96jamesm96 Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 523
    PGM wrote: »
    Cost was thirty odd thousand...

    Oh yeah, I forgot you said you had 80 users.

    Darn. :001_unsure:
  • PGMPGM Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,954
    jamesm96 wrote: »
    Oh yeah, I forgot you said you had 80 users.

    Darn. :001_unsure:

    Same principle can be used on a smaller scale, both Microsoft and VMware do the virtualisation software. You wouldn't need the two meaty servers for a smaller company, but the consultancy charges could still mount up.

    How many users do you have? I'd keep cloud options in mind for smaller offices. Like the way Monsoon does it is basically cloud based back up. Its one step towards keeping everything offsite.
  • jamesm96jamesm96 Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 523
    PGM wrote: »
    Same principle can be used on a smaller scale, both Microsoft and VMware do the virtualisation software. You wouldn't need the two meaty servers for a smaller company, but the consultancy charges could still mount up.

    How many users do you have? I'd keep cloud options in mind for smaller offices. Like the way Monsoon does it is basically cloud based back up. Its one step towards keeping everything offsite.

    10 users. I've thought about some hosted options but I'm just a little sceptical, but then I'm also probably a tad naive. The first thing to sort for us, though, is a better IT support facility. Ours have really let us down this last couple of weeks (note to the OP: we're no longer fans of LittleFish!) so we need to get a better relationship going with someone.
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,069
    Have a chat to Stu at Consider IT. He is based in Edinburgh but can pretty much do anything remotely - which is what he does to manage our backup (and the occasional IT thing I can't do myself).
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