Multi-channel retailer partners with Maindec to achieve mission-critical support for server estate

The White Company, the multi-channel retailer with stores throughout the UK, employed IT Services & Solutions provider Maindec initially to support the server and printer estate at the company's central distribution centre. Over the six-year relationship Maindec has become a valued partner of the retailer, and now provides additional support and integration for the POS (point of sale) systems in new stores, as well as procuring hardware and leading software migration projects; saving The White Company 3,000 on one project alone.

The White Company, founded in 1993, sells a variety of homeware and clothing via its 34 UK stores and online site.  

Maindec was originally approached to offer support and maintenance for The White Company's server estate and critical printers located at the distribution centre. Marc Harper, Technical Service Delivery Manager, The White Company, comments, "At that point in time we only had 12 servers and if any of them failed in any way, we simply replaced it with a new device. We then undertook an entire upgrade of the whole estate, bringing the total number of servers to 40, and felt that we needed to get a partner on board to support with the installation and ongoing maintenance."

Harper continues, "We were introduced to Maindec as a potential partner via trusted contacts at the menswear retailer Charles Tyrwhitt, so it was a question of reputation. Since then, our reliance on Maindec's support has increased significantly, and they give 100% effort for every project we ask them to deliver. Importantly, Maindec has a business culture and approach which matches our own; in the fact that they are always professional but there is personal investment from them as well."

The team of engineers at Maindec is responsible for integrating IT in new stores, which involves building the POS interface, followed by on-site installation and testing ahead of sign-off with the store manager. Maindec has also continued to support the server estate at the core of the Cisco networking equipment as well as maintenance for the distribution centre printers on a 24x365 four-hour break / fix contract.

Commenting on the importance of Maindec's support, Harper says, "Maindec is responsible for maintaining every critical server for The White Company; including those which underpin our website, and the distributions and e-payment solutions. If we did not have this service in place with a partner we can trust, we would certainly experience an increase in capital costs because for every critical server we would require a complete replica on stand-by, but with this arrangement Maindec arrive on site with 'warm' spares rapidly."

As well as the core maintenance offering, Maindec also provides a range of additional services to The White Company, including IT infrastructure hardware procurement and supply, the management of a FTP storage solution for sales files transferred from head office to retail stores, and software migration projects implemented by the solutions arm at Maindec.

Harper comments, "The solutions team completed a number of projects for us last year including an Exchange upgrade from 2003 to 2010. The Maindec team managed this through to implementation and staff training. If this service had not been available, we would most probably have approached one of the large vendors or Microsoft partners which would have been significantly more expensive in fact, we have saved around 3,000, which is a considerable amount on a 26,000 project."

Maindec has also offered consultancy on a planned site move later this year. Harper explains, "The team at Maindec has been really helpful in helping us plan for the migration of our entire IT infrastructure. The good thing about Maindec is that if they can't provide the relevant service themselves, they will introduce you to a trusted partner who can.  

Summarising the key benefits from receiving this wide-reaching service, Harper comments, "During our six-year relationship with Maindec we have experienced a number of technical incidences, and one big benefit of employing Maindec is their ability to retain technical staff, so we are on first name terms with the engineers who provide a consistency of service based on a close knowledge of our systems."

Harper concludes, "For any large reseller, especially one with a significant online presence such as The White Company, IT underpins the successful operations of the business: we are only as good as the hardware which supports us. Our website currently takes over 33million in revenue annually, and in September last year all the hardware supporting the website was replaced procured through, and implemented by, Maindec. Without Maindec's reliable service, it would have been difficult to attain the website functionality required to gear up in time for the Christmas trading season."

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