Count Financial is Australia’s largest independently owned network of financial advisers and accountants. With more than 80 staff headquartered in Sydney, the ASX listed company supports a network of over 700 members Australia-wide, providing a host of training, investment, financial and custom software services.
On the IT front, Count’s needs are two-fold. Firstly, a web-hosting platform delivers tens of thousands of pages of financial information alongside a range of applications used by Count’s network of advisers. Secondly, Count must provide a variety of internal applications and services to support its head-office staff: from Microsoft Exchange and SQL, to specialist accounting software and BlackBerry email systems for mobile workers.
With the 26 servers behind Count’s internal platform approaching the end of a 5 year life cycle, the company considered its upgrade options. Shane Silver, Count’s IT Manager, says that these included renting new hardware or purchasing outright, running an internal VMware based virtualisation platform, and outsourcing Count’s network infrastructure in its entirety.
“We undertook a detailed examination of the pros and cons from both financial and technical perspectives,” says Silver. “In terms of cost, flexibility and future scalability, fully outsourcing our infrastructure emerged as the most attractive solution.”
After selecting Brennan IT as their infrastructure partner, Count’s transition from an internally hosted server platform to a wholly outsourced environment took eight weeks. Silver says that – through a plan developed by Brennan IT’s engineers – this transition was smooth, with no interruption to Count’s daily operations.
Now, the raft of services previously delivered by Count’s 26 servers are hosted externally on a Brennan IT supported infrastructure using VMware, EMC Storage and Cisco switching and networking. Dark fibre connects Count’s head office to Brennan IT’s Sydney data centre, with Count’s network of client PCs connected locally to a dedicated switch. Nightly replication with Brennan IT’s Brisbane data centre, as well as system redundancies, provide robust backup and disaster recovery regimes.
Count Financial says that outsourcing their computing infrastructure has delivered a wide variety of benefits, from reduced costs and internal support needs, to scalability for future growth.
Count’s Technical Lead Simon Weston points to the range of savings Count has made, including eliminating the electricity, air-conditioning and insurance costs associated with an internal server room, reduced hardware costs through virtualisation and reduced training costs for support staff (who no longer need to be available 24/7).
Shane Silver identifies scalability as another key benefit. “Having our infrastructure outsourced in a virtual platform means we’re able to dynamically add and remove computing resources like storage, processing power or RAM when our needs change,” he says. “Brennan IT also provide for spikes in demand through ‘burst’ capabilities – useful for us in intense periods such as the end of the financial year.”
Asked about downsides, Silver points to the essential nature of the communications link between Count and Brennan IT. “This link is now critical to our operations,” he says. “Brennan IT has offered to install redundant wireless and other links as backup, but for the moment we’re content with the dark fibre, which has delivered 100 per cent up time so far.”
Asked about Count’s experience with Brennan IT, Weston says the company has benefitted from a strong working relationship with Brennan IT’s Account Manager and technical team, with excellent service and advice over a period of three years. He would recommend Brennan IT to any company seeking to outsource its IT&T infrastructure needs.
“It’s still early days, but we feel that the move to complete outsourcing is already working well for our business,” says Weston. “Certainly, it’s provided a platform we’re confident will mean our IT infrastructure can adapt to and serve our business needs well into the future.”
To find out more about Count Financial click here.