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Delivering a specialist business management solution for vital infrastructure

Delivering a specialist business management solution for vital infrastructure

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EMiR Software supports the UK’s vital infrastructure. It is a market leader in specialist business management software and is designed for electrical and mechanical engineering businesses that install and service large-scale industrial and commercial equipment. Forty-five percent of the UK membership of the Association Electrical & Mechanical Trades have purchased EMiR Software, which includes hospitals, power stations, chemical plants, food manufacturing and utility companies. Gary Downes, Managing Director, EMiR Software, explains how the company chose Node4’s private cloud platform to deliver the 24/7 x 365 support EMiR Software and its clients had always needed.

The customer

Founded in 1994, EMiR Software (Solutions in IT) is a market leader in specialist business management software. Available as an on-premises or hosted solution, EMiR is designed for electrical and mechanical engineering businesses that install and service large-scale industrial and commercial equipment, including motors, pumps, gearboxes, compressors, control panels, wind turbines and variable speed drives.

EMiR, which has approximately 20 employees and a turnover of £1 million, supports the UK’s vital infrastructure. In fact, 45% of the UK membership of the Association Electrical & Mechanical Trades have purchased EMiR Software. These include hospitals, power stations, chemical plants, food manufacturing and utility companies. Integral to operations, EMiR shapes how electrical and mechanical engineering businesses service their client bases. At its core, EMiR empowers electrical and mechanical engineers to manage and resource all aspects of their complex and challenging business needs. It covers system build, installation and commissioning, repairs and servicing, sales and marketing, distribution and financial systems.

The challenge

Initially, EMiR was installed directly on to servers at client locations. However, around five years ago, the company developed a cloud-based version of its software for customers that would prefer a managed service offering.

Gary Downes, Managing Director at EMiR Software, explained: “We developed a solution that allowed customers to access their own dedicated virtual server, or fleet of virtual servers, via a private cloud platform. We installed our EMiR software and Microsoft Office in each customer environment and offered the option to include any other software that clients might require. Customers would then pay a monthly per-user fee. In return, we’d free them from day-to-day system admin responsibilities and manage the entire environment – delivering first-line hardware support and 24/7 x 365 availability.”

This arrangement worked very well for some time. But as EMiR Software’s business and solution continued to develop, the company started to outgrow its original IT services provider.

“The amount of unscheduled downtime and service interruptions increased to an unacceptable level,” recalled Downes. “It impacted our infrastructure and caused problems for our clients – problems that we had no control over and could not fix directly. It was extremely challenging for us, and it was apparent that our clients were also frustrated. We needed to act decisively and find a new IT provider.”

The solution

An IT partner that listens

Downes and his team chose Node4 after assessing several cloud service providers, noting that Node4 stood out straight away in terms of pricing, support, speed, performance and flexibility. “Node4 had the right mix of technical and commercial experience, and this instilled confidence from the first meeting,” he said. “They also listened to us and learned about the intricacies of our operations. They didn’t try to push us into an ill-fitting box like many vendors. Instead, they devised a bespoke solution and pricing structure that matched how we serviced and billed our customers.”

Improved resiliency, proactive monitoring and enhanced security

Following a seamless migration, all EMiR Software’s managed service customers have been relocated to virtual servers in one of Node4’s data centres. Customers still have a managed private cloud environment containing EMiR, Microsoft Office and any other software they’d like to run on their networks. But with Node4 on board, customers now benefit from improved performance and resiliency that come from superior backup, recovery, antivirus protection and security functionality.

“Node4’s network monitoring capabilities are on a totally different level, too,” notes Downes. “We get automated hardware, software and key service alerts – plus daily performance reports for each server. And we’re immediately notified about potential IT security breaches or cyberthreats. Node4 deals with these before customers are even aware of an issue. It’s all extremely impressive, proactive and responsive – and it makes our lives a hundred times easier.”

The results

Round-the-clock support

Node4’s private cloud platform delivers the 24/7 x 365 support EMiR Software and its clients had always needed. “Although our previous provider had out of hours alerting, they didn’t start working on any fixes until 8am the following morning,” Downes recounted. “By contrast, with Node4, the alerts are monitored and dealt with round-the-clock, so issues never escalate or cause outages.”

Speed and performance gains

In addition, Downes continues to be impressed by the superior speed and performance of Node4’s infrastructure: “Our clients have noticed too, which we’re delighted about. These days, when I demo the cloud-based version of EMiR to clients still using their own hardware, they are always blown away. This makes it much more certain that they’ll migrate to the cloud-based version when their current infrastructure reaches end-of-life.”

Delivering flexibility and agility

Node4’s public cloud infrastructure also gives Downes and his team more direct control over their servers. “This allows us to add users, licences, RAM or disk capacity ourselves,” said Downes. “Administrative changes that used to take our provider around 48 hours to deal with are now handled by us within an hour. We don’t need to raise a ticket and wait for our provider to respond. This makes for more efficient operations and enables us to deliver a very smooth customer experience.”

Summing up, Downes offers a snapshot of how life has changed since he engaged Node4: “The relationship with our previous provider was very stressful – we felt like we were moaning all the time, which isn’t a good place for anyone to be. That’s all changed now, and we have a very settled, positive relationship with Node4.”

He concluded: “Having Node4 as our trusted IT provider and partner means we’re more confident when promoting the benefits of our cloud-based solution. We’ve also been able to take on more of a leadership and educational role – which helps our sales and marketing efforts and elevates our standing within our sector. For all these reasons, I believe we have built a strong foundation that will enable our business to continue growing and evolving.”

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