Established more than two decades ago, Environmental Management Inc. (EMI) has grown to be one of the largest landscape companies in Central Ohio. Serving major business and governmental customers throughout the region, EMI continues to grow, thereby increasing demand for information technology in multiple business areas. As one of the elite few that has earned the Landscape Industry Accreditation, EMI is noted for its experienced team of landscaping architects and professionals with the industry’s highest standards.
Over the past several years, information technology has taken center stage at the organization because of severe external disruptions to the company’s IT infrastructure and the impact that COVID-19 has had on a large number of employees working remotely. Managing business-critical IT environments is a time-consuming process that many times can require specialists with the experience to deliver the highest performing infrastructure possible. EMI has seen this first-hand over the past several years as the company has had to recover from destroyed network infrastructure caused by a catastrophic lightning strike, a disruptive cyberattack involving ransomware with the encryption of important company information, and the need to reconfigure its computing endpoints quickly because of the occurrence of COVID-19 to accommodate “work from home” environments for its team.
Long before these events took place, EMI realized it would be critical for the company to implement agile IT operations and strengthen business continuity capabilities, including its data protection and recovery environment in the event of data loss caused by cyberattack, system failure or human error. In particular, the increasing occurrence of ransomware attacks increased the priority to ensure failsafe recovery in the event that such an event took place.
Prior to deploying the managed services of NetGain, which was later acquired by data platform company Aunalytics, the organization had addressed IT operations internally. But as the company grew, the demands for more varied and comprehensive IT capabilities increased complexity, moving the company to either expand its IT team or outsource IT services and support. Additionally, the aforementioned disruptive events caused by mother nature and criminal hackers reinforced the organization’s need for professional IT outsourcing.
As part of its IT review process, the company realized that to remain operationally effective, its computing infrastructure had to be able to serve as many as 300 employees during the winter season, with many working remotely and 75 in-house employees stationed in the corporate office in areas such as planning, operations, and accounting. It was determined that hiring, training and managing a larger team of IT professionals would not be the best choice for the company and would be cost-prohibitive. Rather, EMI felt that aligning with an experienced managed IT service provider would bring significant value to the organization. After careful consideration, the decision was made to partner with NetGain/Aunalytics.
Aunalytics provides a broad range of solutions, including network, server management, and PC management, as well as Office 365, and business continuity support. EMI employed several services which have helped to positively transform the company’s operations. To date, the company has deployed server management to benefit from advanced performance monitoring, configuration management, key application maintenance and real-time server optimization. PC management is also in place and includes configuration management and enforcement, OS patch management, real-time workstation optimization, scheduled preventative maintenance, monitoring and recycling.
An important service in place that has already played a significant role in ensuring the organization’s resilience has been system-wide data protection. The Ohio Aunalytics business continuity suite includes an enterprise-grade platform with 99.9999% storage availability with customization that allows for precise RPO/RTOs. The solution is simple, reliable and is coupled with 24x7x365 support, which has been one of the most important aspects as IT challenges occur. This service became mission critical when the company was attacked by ransomware, resulting in the unauthorized encryption of important corporate data. Rather than submit to the demand for an exceptionally high ransom, the encrypted data was quickly and easily recovered through the backup infrastructure deployed by Aunalytics.
In another attack on its IT environment, this time from Mother Nature, EMI realized the advantages of having highly responsive emergency IT services at its disposal. As the residents of Ohio know, the number of thunderstorms per year is high, ranging between 30-40 severe storms across the state per year. On one occasion, a severe lightning strike caused the organization’s networking infrastructure to be taken down and destroyed. This had the immediate effect of crippling IT operations, causing network-wide connectivity loss. Aunalytics was quick to respond to the situation, sending onsite technicians to replace and reconfigure the damaged ethernet switches, returning the company to a fully operational status within hours.
“While there are many important services provided, perhaps the most widely used and important for EMI is the 24×7 help desk which is essentially an IT department on demand,” said Tom Kiefer, CFO for EMI. “Whether it’s an employee who accidentally deleted a file or a catastrophic lightning strike, the team behind the Aunalytics Ohio help desk has been insightful and fast to act, allowing our employees to remain online and productive.”
- Assistance with long-term IT planning and support from an experienced relationship manager to ensure computing requirements are satisfied.
- Rapid response business-class IT services with 24×7 help desk featuring on-demand support as required, including boots on the ground support for urgent onsite repairs and services.
- Full NetSuite training and management, as well as high availability access to the mission critical business software suite (accounting, ERP, and CRM applications).
- End-to-end system backup and recovery to ensure precise data restoration with optimal recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) aligned with business requirements. Solutions are customizable to address business continuity requirements and offer regulatory compliance with GDPR, HIPAA, an ISO 27001 using best-in-class backup and recovery platforms.
- Office 365 management for completely integrated solution availability with anytime, anywhere access.