How to ease growth pains: Arriva’s plan for expansion

The TGM Group had become victims of its own success. With a fleet of over 400 buses and coaches, TGM provides Airport, Coach, Bus and Flight Delay Services. The company is part of the successful Arriva group, providing public transport services across the UK and Europe.

With satellite offices, often in remote locations, TGM had embraced virtualisation as a method of delivering IT services whilst keeping maintenance and management costs low. However, the company had grown quickly and it soon became clear to Roger Phillips, IT and Network Manager, that the infrastructure would need beefing up to maintain service levels.   The TGM Group was added to my responsibilities in January 2011 and I thoroughly reviewed the whole IT infrastructure’ explained Roger, ‘so we could clearly identify where bottlenecks were likely to develop’ and make proposals accordingly.

An initial report, produced by CWL, identified that the virtualised environment was in danger of becoming significantly over-utilised with insufficient storage and not enough bandwidth. It was clear growth had been faster than expected and provision had not been made for infrastructure enhancement.’ This created a real dilemma for management: the upgrade was required, but funds were not available beyond the capex proposal already signed off. CWL Systems have a genuinely ‘client centric’ culture, which translates to a problem solving by everyone in the company, from the Sales Director to the most junior helpdesk approach to client issues. ‘We recognise that our success is dependent upon our clients’ explains Andy Griffiths, CWL’s Managing Director, ‘and this is understood technician’.

Solving the problem

Frequently IT issues are not technical at all. The situation Roger Phillips found himself in is not uncommon: upgrades required to maintain service levels but within financial constraints. Often companies have to struggle along until the next financial year before funds are made available but not in this case. CWL recognised Roger’s dilemma and restructured the contract so that work on the upgrade could start immediately. As Roger Phillips explains, ‘CWL’s flexibility and focus meant that the business got the infrastructure it needed, when it was needed’.

Perfect projects

When new equipment is acquired there is often a question of what to do with existing infrastructure.  The upgrade path included new HP EX Servers and an HP Left hand SAN which meant that much of the existing infrastructure would be surplus to requirement. However, in TGM Group’s case, many servers were quite new and a rip-and-replace strategy was simply inappropriate. CWL’s engineers used their knowledge and experience to develop a project that made both good technical and financial sense.  Part of the CWL strategy was to re-employ existing hardware for DR and replication. It was a win, win, win strategy: TGM got the infrastructure needed to maintain service levels at satellite offices, they got a new, enhanced DR infrastructure and the contract changes meant they completed the upgrade without having to wait for a new financial year.

‘CWL’s engineers were very familiar with TGM’s infrastructure’ recalls Roger, ‘they not only designed an effective upgrade path, they also made sure that the implementation was completed with as little disruption as possible’. Work started at the headquarters first and local users immediately noticed improved performance. As bandwith enhancements are made, this performance will be enjoyed by staff at remote locations.

Conclusion

Successful businesses are dynamic environments. They respond to change, adapting infrastructure and operations to maintain market leadership and growth. Often this puts pressure on prudent financial management, which is when companies need their business partners’ understanding and support. By staying close to TGM Group, CWL management quickly identified where contract changes could be made and ensured infrastructure upgrades kept pace with business growth. As a true business partner, CWL recognises that their clients’ success is critical to their own success.

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