Over the last year, organizations in every industry have learned the value of adaptability. Seemingly overnight, business lunches and water cooler chats were replaced with Zoom meetings and virtual desktops in home offices. Connecting with someone across the world now requires the same amount of effort as connecting with someone from the office you interact with every day.
However, it’s still natural to trust small business vendors from your own region. Traditionally, they understand the specific needs of local businesses and what environmental or societal factors will affect your business the most. Add to limited local options the stress of finding a business partner anywhere who won’t pressure you to make unnecessary purchases, and sometimes it can feel like you and your business are alone at sea.
As convenient as it can be to have someone like a managed services provider (MSP) down the street from your office, finding the right partner can mean transcending geographical constraints.
Anderson Technologies’ most recent witness to this fact can be found in our managed services partnership with K. P., president of an industrial business firm in Oklahoma.
Drilling into the Issues
K. P.’s business primarily serves the oil and gas industries, working with public and private agencies to examine titles, mineral rights, oil and gas leases, and regulatory work for industrial drilling and pipelines. “We do a lot of due diligence where our clients are buying and selling properties,” says K. P. “We’re working to help them verify what they’re buying and is it what they think they’re buying. I’m the company founder, president, janitor, everything.”
Thanks to a social connection made years earlier with our founding principals, K. P. knew how an MSP like Anderson Technologies could benefit his company. But what led K. P. to reach out to an IT provider located 500 miles away in St. Louis, Missouri?
“Help,” K. P. explains. “More importantly, a confidence and belief that what [IT experts] were telling me was correct and reasonable—that they could understand our business and what we needed. We had multiple IT managers have some success, but I never felt like I was getting the straight story.”
It’s not easy to find a partner company you can trust to have more than potential profit on their mind. Finding yourself at the whims of an IT expert who’s overloading your business with unnecessary networks and gadgets can make a significant budgetary impact over time—without much to show for it, as K. P. learned. “We’d kind of gotten off track and had massive systems and massive servers and everything else far more than we needed. It was costing a lot of money to maintain—plus we were at the end of lifecycle on some of it and just needed to go in a different direction.”
A lack of accountability had troubled K. P.’s IT department for years. “I had one long-time IT person that knew their stuff, but sometimes their biases and their past connections and vendor relationships were not always in the best interest of the company. You end up buying things you don’t need or going down rabbit holes.” When that IT manager left the company, a pattern of turnover and unclear planning left a huge mess for the next partner K. P. would choose.
Backups were our biggest concern.”
“Our number one goal was to get a robust backup system in place,” K. P. says. “We have 50-60 terabytes of data. Getting that massive amount of data backed up and figuring out what needs to be usable and what needs to be archived was a huge challenge. We really wrestled with it.” Thankfully, K. P. and his company would not have to fight alone.
Overcoming the Distance
The elephant in the server room, however, was that K. P. and Anderson Technologies are several hours and several hundred miles apart from one another. There were distinct—and vocal—objections from K. P.’s other executives regarding the distance between the two firms. “I got some pushback from my people here,” K. P. says. “Quite a bit, actually. Yeah, I was definitely concerned about [the distance and whether it would affect the quality of communication]. I think that’s one of the things that probably held us off from doing anything, originally.”
The concern came from a question regarding the everyday IT problems all businesses experience. The physical nuts and bolts issues typically handled on-site, like a computer that refuses to boot up, were the greatest potential problems. “Once we got [the process] figured out, I think everybody’s fears went away,” explains K. P.
Many of K. P.’s pressing IT issues regarded his server system and physical hardware at the office, so some initial on-site work was needed. Anderson Technologies sent Senior Systems Administrators Luke Bragg and JR Reynolds to Oklahoma for several days of hands-on dismantling and rebuilding.
“This project ripped every single piece of infrastructure out and replaced it,” Reynolds says. “We literally dismantled their entire network, including switches, servers, cabling, UPS batteries and their firewall, and replaced it with brand new gear.”
Reynolds and Bragg worked on-site for nearly a week to replace dying servers, improve R.K.’s network safety, increase the network speed by 1,200%, and reduce their core application from three servers to one.
It went great,” K. P. says. “They’re both pros. They know what they’re doing [and are] both very easy to deal with.”
Beyond replacing and improving K. P.’s current system, Reynolds and Bragg also completed projects left uncompleted by the previous IT manager: rebuilding problematic PCs, finishing email migration and domain transitions, and establishing K. P.’s first-ever backup schedule. All this work solidified K. P.’s belief that an MSP could support his business in the years to come—regardless of the distance between the new partnership.
Jumping Ahead of the Curve
When it came to ongoing IT support after the initial setup, this was K. P.’s first foray into a primarily remote MSP relationship. “I think everyone in every industry has learned a lot about how much can be done remotely,” K. P. says. “This whole thing we’ve gone through the last year as a country, as a world, we figured out that things can definitely be done remotely to a much greater extent than anybody ever dreamed up.” However, worldwide shifts to virtual operations highlighted just how far behind the curve the land development and energy industries were.
“There’s lots of room for improvement,” K. P. says of his business’s place in the energy sector. “It’s still a fairly manual business. We handle so much data and so much paper…the great majority of it is not digital. When you have to examine a title to a tract of land to figure out who owns it, it’s a very tedious, laborious process of going to the courthouse, pulling the individual books that have the pages for that chain of title—which may be thousands of books—then compiling that data and getting it to the client.”
It was vital that K. P. partnered with an MSP who understood these industry limitations, but also had the space to innovate at K. P.’s pace. The new virtual server allowed for faster storage and access to the essential records and terabytes of data that K. P.’s business used every day. Computers previously decked-out with expensive upgrades were now able to pull documents from the server at a pace that mitigated potential downtime, making them easier for everyday use. And, most importantly, K. P.’s new backup plan guaranteed all that data would be safe and secure in the event of a ransomware attack or natural disaster. Understanding the challenges K. P.’s industry faced made the day-to-day remote IT support easier for both sides of the partnership.
So what’s next for K. P. and his company’s IT plans? “We don’t have a lot next right now,” K. P. explains. “It’s a matter of just enjoying our new system and making sure we understand it. We just appreciate all [Anderson Technologies] done for us and [are] glad to get this thing behind us.” In a year that forced everyone in every industry to learn about how much can work can be performed remotely, sectors that already struggled with the transition from analog to digital have a lot of work to do to catch up. K. P.’s business is now ahead of the curve, even from afar.
Distance doesn’t have to be a factor in finding an MSP that values stability and accountability. Does your IT partner or MSP share your company’s vision and offer the support you need? Let Anderson Technologies help chart the path for your future.