“I knew straight away that CodeBlue would be the right fit for us. CodeBlue is a growing company and they have extensive IT industry knowledge. I knew they would understand our business and be able to provide the support we needed.”
Kobe Hoxha, IT Manager, FRAMECAD
FRAMECAD is a quintessential Kiwi success story. Founded in 1987, FRAMECAD’s innovative, end-to-end design and build system enables the production of light-gauge steel frame building solutions for rapid construction of quality steel residential, commercial and light industrial buildings for governments, communities and private developers worldwide.
Headquartered in Auckland, FRAMECAD is an export-focussed business, with sales in over 60 countries around the world. Today, FRAMECAD has a growing reputation as a global leader and innovator in building design and engineering software, and state-of-the-art manufacturing systems enabling the production of light gauge steel framed buildings. The company has around 100 staff and a growing number of offices in New Zealand, the Americas, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa to support customers and local FRAMECAD design and build experts.
FRAMECAD has an internal IT team which handles day-to-day user IT support in-house, including day-to-day issues, applications, and workstations. This was supplemented with ad-hoc outsourced IT support. However, in 2012, with the company continuing to grow and more staff on the ground in remote locations,
FRAMECAD knew it needed a trusted IT partner that could support the internal IT team, take responsibility for the servers and infrastructure and 24/7 critical server monitoring, as well as provide the level of organised IT support and advice required to meet the needs of its expanding business.
Finding a trusted IT partner
FRAMECAD’s Information Systems & IT Manager, Kobe Hoxha, knew exactly who he wanted on board – he called his old colleagues at CodeBlue.
“Having worked with CodeBlue in the past, and knowing some of the CodeBlue people well, I knew straight away that CodeBlue would be the right fit for us. CodeBlue is a growing company and they have extensive IT industry knowledge. I knew they would understand our business and be able to provide the support we needed,” Kobe says.
FRAMECAD’s CodeBlue Trusted Advisor Henry Min was involved in the initial onboarding of FRAMECAD, scoping the environment, and creating a plan to improve it and fix issues that had been causing headaches for the company.
“We were initially dealing with quite a messy environment and had to resolve several issues. The existing hardware was approaching end of life and would need to be upgraded in the near future. However, the immediate priority, and a key driver for FRAMECAD, was needing to support their staff in remote locations more effectively by creating a virtual environment that everyone could remote into, no matter where they are in the world,” Henry says.
A core issue for FRAMECAD, with users regularly sharing large files, was huge mailboxes and insufficient resources to properly support them. CodeBlue decommissioned FRAMECAD’s Microsoft Exchange Server and moved the company to Microsoft Office 365 in 2013.
“With around 100 employees, there’s a lot of data to manage and backup. Henry was the key technical lead on the project to migrate our staff to Office 365 over a two-month period – there was so much data to move! But it all went according to plan and with very little downtime; and we’ve had no issues since.”
“Having worked with CodeBlue in the past, and knowing some of the CodeBlue people well, I knew straight away that CodeBlue would be the right fit for us. CodeBlue is a growing company and they have extensive IT industry knowledge. I knew they would understand our business and be able to provide the support we needed.”
Beefing up data resiliency
Fast forward to 2014, and although everything had generally been running smoothly, the ageing hardware and equipment remained a concern for Kobe. He knew the operating systems, servers and hardware needed upgrading and he was concerned about ensuring FRAMECAD’s data and IP were properly protected against disaster. But with no real issues to force action, that project was relegated to the backburner – until two events in quick succession put it firmly back on the priority list: First, there was a fire in coffee shop underneath the FRAMECAD HQ in Auckland. Then, in October 2014 the company was one of thousands of Auckland businesses and homes affected for several days by a power outage caused after fires damaged a local substation.
In November 2014, Kobe received management and Board approval to proceed with a total refresh and upgrade of FRAMECAD’s hardware (including servers), software and operating system.
“Those two incidents alone were enough to underscore that keeping our IP and data on premise is just too high risk. We needed to collate our data offsite to avoid losing it in an onsite disaster,” Kobe says.
“CodeBlue did a full analysis and recommended everything required – hardware, systems, the whole approach. Henry was a key driver for the project. His knowledge and understanding of Microsoft and other products meant he knew exactly what would work for us, and what to recommend.”
CodeBlue moved FRAMECAD to Windows Server 2012 and set up a remote, secure virtual environment. New hardware was moved to a remote datacentre on Auckland’s North Shore and the FRAMECAD network was redesigned to make everything more fluid and secure; this included a new Fortigate firewall, new virtual host and switches from HP and a new SAN storage solution. CodeBlue also addressed application upgrades and several out-of-scope issues and updates.
Kobe says the project went ‘really, really well’, with virtually no issues, and was completed on time, on budget and to plan. The project was signed off in mid-June 2015.
Immediately afterwards, CodeBlue installed a new backup server at FRAMECAD’s factory to provide backup and DR for better data resiliency. This enables daily replication between the datacentre and FRAMECAD’s factory.
For FRAMECAD, key outcomes of the upgrade included a secure, reliable environment with better uptime, enhanced manageability, mobility and remote access for users. And that is what CodeBlue delivered.
“It’s business as usual,” Kobe says. “Everything is running smoothly. It was quite a complex undertaking; there were lots of sub-projects within the main project and we wanted everything done at the same time. CodeBlue’s documentation and management helped ensure that the project ran smoothly and the Board and management are happy with the outcomes. And I sleep much better at night knowing we don’t have our data and IP on premise anymore.
“Our relationship with CodeBlue has always been good and continues to go from strength to strength. CodeBlue has moved us a long way forward from where we were in terms of updating our infrastructure and operating systems. And we really appreciate CodeBlue’s 24/7 management of our critical systems, and that everyone is always quick to respond,” Kobe concludes.