The background: a respected insurance broker
UIB is an international insurance and reinsurance broker. Specialising in sectors from aviation to shipping and from energy to engineering, it employs around 170 people at its London headquarters, just a short walk from the Lloyd's of London insurance market.
In order to provide its expertise in risk management, UIB needs high-performing and resilient IT systems. The executive director of the IT division, Paul Chalk, heads an in-house team providing support to UIB's London headquarters.
What the company needs: support for problems and projects
With an IT team of its own, UIB is more than capable of managing most of its day-to-day IT needs. But UIB also needs the peace of mind of a third and fourth-line support provider, along with consultancy backup on bigger projects.
For example, in recent years UIB has needed help with vital projects such as replacing firewalls, implementing a remote access for disaster recovery and - on one occasion - upgrading the business-critical email server.
"The server was locking up and, while it was locked, it wouldn't receive or send emails," says Paul Chalk, executive director of the IT division. "We were getting small, five-minute windows where there was no email service; a couple of times a day, it becomes very inconvenient."
And one Monday morning, an IT manager's nightmare happened - when Paul came in to find that another key server had died, and staff couldn't log in.
"The motherboard had gone on the server. It was completely dead. Without this server, people couldn't log on to the network; it caused us major issues, as you can imagine."
The solution: support and advice from Managed Networks
Happily, UIB uses Managed Networks for its third and fourth-line support - so when that server fell over on a Monday morning, Paul knew who he could trust.
"Within about 30 minutes, one of the consultants from Managed Networks who was familiar with our network had jumped on his bike and was over here.
"When the motherboard arrived, the engineer fitted it, rebuilt the server for us and got service back to us before the morning was out. I don't suppose everybody would have done that."
As for those email issues, Managed Networks was able to help upgrade the mail server to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 - the current version at the time - which also helped to improve disaster recovery capability and increase fault tolerance.
"They worked tightly with us, designing the infrastructure for the 2010 environment and assisting us in the early stages of migration as well," says Paul.
A key part of the Managed Networks service is its system of "Rotation Days": engineers visit UIB roughly once a fortnight to solve issues proactively, getting to know the network in the process.
"If we've got any issues that are not critical but we need to resolve, then once we've got them on site they can work with us. It gives us a third-party check that everything is as it should be," Paul says.
The benefit: peace of mind
The biggest benefit to UIB is the comfort of knowing that if a project or problem is outside its capability, Managed Networks is on the end of the phone.
"We know that if we've exhausted all avenues with an issue, we've got somebody there we can talk to, who has expertise in a wider variety of products than we can possibly obtain internally, and who has connections direct into most of the manufacturers and software providers," Paul says.
The relationship is underpinned by those fortnightly rotation visits. "Having a second pair of eyes checking over the environment gives us peace of mind that our infrastructure is healthy and up to date. That goes toward delivering the service we require."
Having Managed Networks available also means that UIB can run a leaner IT team. "They save us having a very large IT team with a whole raft of areas of expertise," says Paul.
"They've got a good bunch of consultants. Over eight years we've built up a level of trust: we know the consultants well, they know us and our network well, and we have a good working relationship.
"They give us that comfort factor. If we've got an issue, we're against the wall and cannot resolve it, we've got somewhere to go."