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Q&A: Stanley Consultants Inc.

As Information Services Manager for one of the world's largest consulting engineering firms, Thomas Iannelli faces familiar IT challenges using proactive solutions from SolarWinds.

By ChannelPro

What is Stanley Consultants?

Founded in 1913, Stanley Consultants is a one of the world’s largest consulting engineering firms. We focus on energy, water, transportation, and the environment. Our clients span the utility and industrial industries, as well as higher education and local, state, federal and foreign governments. We offer a full range of services, from planning, design, and permitting to construction management, program management, and alternative project delivery.

The company has nearly 1,000 employees in over 30 offices worldwide and has worked in all 50 states and more than 100 countries around the world.

What are the primary IT challenges the company has faced?

We previously used primarily open source systems and network management tools, which provided us with the basic up/down monitoring of systems. These tools would let us know when something broke, but they didn’t provide us with any diagnostic capabilities or details informing us on how to better manage and prevent problems. We were a reactive IT department, fighting fires and troubleshooting in the moment, leading to periods of downtime, which as anyone in the IT industry knows, is the last thing you want.

For example, roughly a year ago, we experienced a network switch failure in one of our 32 offices. Although we were able to replace the switch, reconfigure the system, and get the remote office back online very quickly, we lacked the technology that could have prevented the failure in the first place. As a result, staff in the office impacted by the switch failure was forced to work via remote access during the outage.

Moreover, with powerful but demanding engineering software straining both our network and server resources every day, we, like many organizations today, were vulnerable to infrastructure problems.

How does IT downtime affect the company?

Like with any company, IT downtime can be disastrous. We rely heavily on the billable productivity of our employees and their ability to use applications to meet client needs.

What steps has the company taken to overcome its IT challenges?

It became apparent that manual monitoring techniques or bare-bones management tools were no longer sufficient—we needed to leverage equally powerful monitoring tools in order to empower our IT team to solve infrastructure problems before they occurred. We turned to SolarWinds, and have since deployed SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, SolarWinds Network Performance Analyzer, SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager, SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer and SolarWinds IP Address Manager.

Have you seen any significant changes in IT downtime since deploying SolarWinds products?

Yes, since deploying the suite of SolarWinds network management products, we’ve been able to achieve greater visibility into our network traffic—both on-premises and in the cloud—and with SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, more quickly identify application and server performance issues and troubleshoot the root cause of the problems. And by using SolarWinds IP Address Manager, we’ve also reclaimed a significant amount of time that the IT department previously spent manually tracking and assigning new IP addresses. With our now closely monitored infrastructure stack, we’ve seen an estimated 20 percent decrease in time-to-resolution and an estimated 15 percent increase in employee productivity within the IT department.

Overall, we’ve been able to go from being reactive to proactive, preventing problems before they impact end users and the business.

What words of advice would you give to other IT departments facing similar challenges to those you overcame?

Spend the time to examine the recurring issues in your infrastructure. Are there one or two things that come up repeatedly? Determine what data would help avoid the problem. Implement monitoring, alerting, policies, and procedures that collect and make use of that data. It’s about shifting the work from responding to your customer’s problems to correcting systems and conditions before your customers even notice.

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