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Future-proofing our business IT systems

Future-proofing our business IT systems
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Future-proofing our business IT systems
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

Our IT manager, Chris Martin, has a lot on his plate; not only does he have the challenge of dealing with the day-to-day running of the IT for eight different business centres across the South East, he is also in charge of modernising the systems and tailoring features to individual client needs. We’ve been finding out how he juggles strategic planning to future-proof our customers’ IT infrastructure with firefighting the inevitable daily gremlins.

A ‘typical’ day

Our IT manager, Chris, doesn’t really know what a ‘typical’ day means; every day holds different challenges and conundrums which need solving, and not just from one front: “I have to deal with the centres’ IT systems as well as the customers’, so I’m in quite a unique position because I see both sides. If one centre has an issue then I have to deal with that, or if a customer has no internet access then they will come to me too. Because of this, my days are really varied and it’s why I like the job so much.

“Among my daily checks first thing are the error logs for phone systems and the internet to see if everything is in working order. We don’t tend to have too many issues, but my next port of call is the emails, to make sure there haven’t been any issues overnight. I then have to deal with requests from centres and work on ongoing projects, such as restructuring the cabling.

“There are eight business centres in total which I look after, so I have to prioritise. General client enquiries such as customizing the phone systems are done on a first-come, first-served basis, unless it’s something broken or not working, such as losing phone lines or internet connection, then that will come first– then it’s all hands-on deck to resolve that issue.”

Having a busy daily schedule means getting round to the long-term projects can be a challenge. Chris has strict maintenance processes in place which are put in the diary early so they can’t be put off: “These include site visits to carry out checks on equipment and making sure the comms room is adequately cool.”

Future-proofing the IT systems

IT is always changing and keeping ahead of such a fast-paced industry is a real challenge that Chris has

to deal with: “To spot future changes I think sometimes it’s nigh on impossible, you have to be a clairvoyant! What we aim to do is deliver a consistent service across all our platforms and centres. The big variable in this is the internet circuits. We’ve recently updated the hardware in all the centres and we migrated our internet platform to a cloud solution which gives us much better disaster recovery – a project covering a five-month period for each centre. Before then it worked off older tech where, if the box at the centre was to fail, then all the data would be lost. Now all the data is backed up on the cloud, so if the box breaks, it’s just a case of plugging in a new box and downloading the data back from the cloud – which is important to maintain business continuity.

“The telephone system we have is resilient and future proof; we have two systems, one in Chelmsford and one in Kings Hill. If the primary one fails, then it automatically goes over to the Chelmsford one. The tech isn’t really advancing so much, it’s more peoples’ usage, so we monitor the size of the circuit for each centre and we look at the years and years’ worth of data we have. The usage over the past few years has gone up exponentially; with YouTube and streaming media, all these things add up, so we have upgraded the hardware from 100mb to 1GB – a tenfold increase purely to allow for future increasing usage and technologies that may be more bandwidth hungry. We like to run the centres at about 20-30% utilisation and should one fail then the secondary system will kick in; this helps to keep the service as resilient as possible for our customers.”

A challenging but satisfying job

Our IT manager is working hard to ensure the satisfaction of our customers but it isn’t without its challenges: “Managing so many centres that are geographically spread out can be difficult, although I have remote access to a lot of parts, there’s still face-to-face work to be done, such as dropping into clients; sometimes it’s simply easier to be there and look at a problem than talk through it on the phone. I aim to get to each centre twice a month.”

Even with its challenges, Chris enjoys his job and says that he finds assisting with novel customer problems the most satisfying: “Quite often I have to get involved in an unusual project for a customer. For example, on the phones side they might want the system to work in a certain way. So, I have to go away and work out a solution for it; they could have multiple offices in different centres that they want linking, or they’ve opened their own office but still want to maintain our service. It’s really satisfying to have challenges posed and finding the solution for them. It enables our customers to work as they want to work as opposed to how we’ve told them to.”

With IT being such an indispensable aspect to most businesses, Capital Space will continue to invest to make sure we have the capacity to deal with any challenge – as well as the equipment to serve our customers both now and in the future. 

To find out how CapitalSpace virtual offices or business premises

could benefit your growing business,

call 0800 107 3667