When Josh Pierre was promoted to IT manager at Mrs Mac's he realised that changes were needed as some things had been done in a somewhat primitive way.
Moving from a technical and implementation analyst role to IT manager, Pierre learned quickly that there was much work to be done specially around disaster recovery.
Things have improved in the 12 years leading to his current role and he was part of several changes to the IT infrastructure of the business during those years.
"When I started it was a really primitive set up there was some white boxes lying around the place, we didn’t have Microsoft exchange or any sort of centralised data management. People were still storing files on their computers," Pierre said.
"We've implemented VMware, given some redundancy, implemented Microsoft Exchange and move to Office 365."
Pierre also invested in standardising the equipment as he found that there was no warranty support for most of the equipment, which made it unsustainable.
More than pastries
Mrs Mac's was established in 1954 and today produces 100 million pies, rolls and pastries for Australian and New Zealand.
Pierre's team consists of him and two other employees who look after 160 technology users. Mrs Mac's employs around 350 people across every state and territory in Australia, with a separate sales office in New South Wales which employs 18 sales support staff and some reps in New Zealand and everything is managed from Perth.
Once Pierre took on the IT leadership for the company there were many things that needed changing.
"When I started in this role it was time to renegotiate contracts for printers and copiers and also telecommunications," he said.
Pierre tells that one of the most recent significant changes to how the company manages its infrastructure was when disaster recovery solutions from Zerto were rolled out by Zettagrid.
"That was a big change for us and gave the board a bit of ease in terms of risk mitigation," Pierre said. "Overall we saved in excess of $150,000 a year so it was a significant change."
Several changes were needed to make processes more agile.
"From a hardware perspective we have done a lot of work with Dell, for storage and servers, traditionally desktops and laptops. Their services and support are outstanding. We tried to look for alternatives in the past but can't find someone who can better that," Pierre said.
"MSS IT provided us with a lot of our day-to-day hardware requirement switches, firewalls and wireless equipment which we implement from HP-Aruba. That has been really reliable for us."
The disaster recovery (DR) implementation was the biggest change Pierre put in place. Before, the IT team would replicate a few core services to another server, which was not ideal given the size of the business.
"We reached out to Zettagrid because we knew they were a partner to the backup DR provider we were using and talked about some of the offsite replication and they showed us Zerto, which took our RPO [recovery point objective] from about an hour to 30 seconds on average so it was a phenomenal the change."
"We have a disaster recovery platform we can rely on and it has also given us a path for the future for if we decide to move to the cloud.
"We are now able to replicate our entire fleet so if something happened we would be able to continue doing business from a technology perspective. If we were to move to the cloud this would make it really simple for us."
However, a move to the cloud is not something that is part of Mrs Mac's current plan as it would not make financial sense for the business at this point.
"We don't have the agility requirements where it would be beneficial to scale up or scale down we have a reasonably static environment.
"And the cost benefit is not really there for us. We are quite fortunate that we have the infrastructure to hold our on-premise infrastructure with 24x7 security which is tough to move away for us."
Real world solutions
When looking for technologies and providers, Pierre looks for an experienced provider who shares not only its successes but also failures that help to make future improvements in the services being offered.
"The thing that I hold in the highest regard is references and real world experience. I don't want to see white papers and fluffs and things like that.
"It is really important for me to speak to someone who has implemented something, to know if any issued that they've had has been corrected, how things can be improved. Those things really tell a real story. For me that is invaluable."
A reseller or systems integrator will generally offer a more broad set of solutions and also be willing to work harder.
"A reseller generally is more inclined in to be a bit more hands on and get their hands dirty and consider a wider range of solutions, whereas the vendor wants to push their solution at all costs which might not be the most complete solution. I think there are definitely benefits of working with service providers."
References and case studies also make a big difference for Pierre when looking for a new technology or service.
"I like to see real world experiences, labs and things like that. And I like to actually be able to speak to somebody, not just see a written case study."
A provider must be an expert that is what Pierre expects when talking to a vendor or reseller, to be able to trust that they are experts in what they are selling.