AHI Carrier distributes and services Carrier and Toshiba heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems in 44 countries, including Australia. The company also runs Totaline stores in Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East, which sell a full range of HVAC and refrigeration parts, consumables and tools for residential and commercial applications.
AHI Carrier Australia had bought fixed-line and mobile voice and data services from its communications provider for six years, and the contract was coming up for renewal. The renewal coincided with a review process that the company undertakes annually that aims to identify improvements and potential cost savings using IT. While the company was keen to take advantage of price reductions for communications services that had occurred over the past six years, it also saw an opportunity to uplift its communications capability.
AHI Carrier Australia runs commercial sales offices in most capital cities as well as nationwide branches for its Totaline parts business. The communications requirements of each varies depending on the physical location and the number of staff. Sales offices may have 15 to 20 staff, while smaller branches may have only a handful of employees. However, regardless of size, communications is a critical part of the way the company does business.
“Since our parts business sell to walk-in customers, it’s really dependent on networks links for ERP system access,” Rizvi said. “They can’t really serve customers without connectivity but we had issues with some of our sites being dependent on other sites for internet access and their ERP connection access.”
The company also wanted a service provider that could proactively monitor communications links for faults, and provide fixes within an improved service level agreement (SLA).
“Our business keeps changing and we keep hiring so we constantly have add/remove requirements for new hardware, new phones, or monitoring or changing our existing extensions,” Rizvi said. “We would struggle for weeks trying to get something sorted from our existing service provider. “We had to go through multiple layers to get something done. It was a lengthy process.” AHI Carrier Australia invited three potential communications partners, including Brennan IT, to its evaluation process. “Due to our internal policies and procedures, we have a rigorous process for choosing a new vendor,” Rizvi said. “We are required to select at least three different vendors to propose similar solutions. We then present our recommendation to management for them to give us the go-ahead.”
As Rizvi and his team went through the process, the company’s communication contract lapsed. “That caused our communication expenses to increase quite significantly because we lost our group discount pricing when the agreement expired,” he said. “We really had to negotiate and make a decision as soon as possible because we couldn’t keep incurring those additional charges.”
Towards the end of 2015, Brennan IT emerged as AHI Carrier Australia’s preferred new communications service provider. Brennan IT succeeded on a number of fronts, including its ability to take over the operation of existing services with little to no downtime.
“We were using a hosted PABX system already from our existing provider, and Brennan IT were able to use the same technology and our existing hardware and provide us the same service,” Rizvi said. “That meant we didn’t have to invest too much on new handsets or other hardware, so we saved a money there.”
Brennan IT also met AHI’s requirements for proactive network monitoring and providing better response times for break-fix and add-remove changes. “The SLAs definitely improved,” Rizvi said. “If you consider the costs compared to the investment and charges for the links we’re paying for now, we get better SLAs with lower pricing.” Brennan IT assigned AHI Carrier Australia with a dedicated project manager for the transition of communications services.
Rizvi said he was “impressed” by the detailed planning and organisation from Brennan IT. “We decided to transition all the sites over to Brennan IT’s communications services in one go, which is complicated,” Rizvi said.
“But everyone had their own roles and responsibilities listed with their due dates and Brennan IT went out of their way to help me with my tasks on multiple occasions. “We kept a weekly meeting to discuss all the pending items but with the scale of the project and the work involved we were usually communicating every day to make sure everything’s going according to plan. It was a pretty detailed process and I was very happy with the way the project was managed.”
The company’s head office now runs a 10Mbps fibre link. Sales offices have links between 2-4Mbps and small branches have capacity of between 1-2Mbps. The cutover occurred during operating hours and was between 10 and 15 minutes per site, depending on the number of handsets they ran. “For bigger sites we preconfigured our handsets because we had some spare ones with us, and the cutover was literally 10 minutes or less because all we had to do was switch the link and plug in the new phones,” Rizvi said. “It caused little to no disruption for all sites. It was pretty simple the way it was planned and it worked out really well.”
As a result of the cutover to Brennan IT, small branches are no longer dependent on larger sites for internet and ERP access. “With the new network we now have central internet connectivity through the cloud firewall that Brennan hosts in their data centre,” Rizvi said. “That enabled our branches to connect to the internet instead of reaching through our internal links, which caused a lot of network bandwidth and bottlenecks. “We were really impressed with how the bandwidth and link speeds increased. We didn’t really expect a huge difference, and it was.”
Rizvi is also pleased with Brennan IT’s responsiveness to requests. “We’re happy with the way they manage the add/remove changes. They’re really responsive,” he said. “It’s just a matter of picking up the phone and giving them a call, having them place the order and getting it done right there and then.”
With the successful transition of communications services, AHI Carrier Australia is already looking at where else Brennan IT might be able to assist.
“We’re currently working on a firewall solution with Brennan IT,” Rizvi said. “It’s basically a cloud hosted unified threat management (UTM) from Sophos and that’s something we’re considering to get some visibility of network traffic, and to put in place web filtering and extra security.”
AHI is also looking at whether to go down the path of managed services, a process which could begin around the end of 2016. “We’re obviously going to give Brennan IT the chance to put in a proposal for that as well,” Rizvi added.
For more information on how Brennan IT’s Private IP Solutions can benefit your business, call 1300 500 000 or visit brennanit.com.au