Intelligent Tech Channels Issue 45 - Page 32

AFRICA
REGIONAL CHANNELS
AFRICA
Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa , a subsidiary of the global WestconGroup Inc , is a value-added distributor ( VAD ) of cloud , technology and converged communications solutions for the enterprise and SMB markets . The VAD recently announced that Cape Townbased IT solutions provider and Microsoft partner , RJ45 Networking Solutions , migrated the IT environment of UK metering and billing agent , Insite Energy to Microsoft Azure .

UK SMART METERING PROVIDER TRANSFORMS ENVIRONMENT WITH MICROSOFT AZURE

Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa , a global distributor , has announced Cape Townbased IT solutions provider and Microsoft partner , RJ45 Networking Solutions , has recently migrated the IT environment of UK metering and billing agent , Insite Energy , to Microsoft Azure . The migration was done without downtime to live services , including Insite Energy ’ s newly launched in-house digital prepayment web app , enabling the organisation to significantly enhance its billing and meter management services to its clients and customers .

Insite Energy is a UK metering and billing agent working with heat suppliers and landlords who have heat networks installed in their buildings . The company provides smart metering , billing , and payment services to more than 250 heat network schemes and 25,000 homes in the UK . In recent years , Insite ’ s ageing IT environment made it challenging to service customers and clients cost-effectively and to a high quality . The company opted to standardise on Microsoft Azure to enhance its existing cloud environment and servers hosted in remote data centres .
“ Although we have always been cloudfocused , the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the way companies work . For instance , our Peterborough call centre had fewer people coming into the office due to lockdown restrictions . Generally , work from home has benefitted our business , as we wanted to offer our staff greater flexibility and provide Business Continuity . By choosing Azure and Microsoft 365 , we have achieved this ,” said Louis Uys , Head , IT at Insite Energy .
Making the shift , employees can work from anywhere , with files accessible via Microsoft Teams , email available through Microsoft 365 and a virtual private network ( VPN ). As part of the migration , RJ45 took over firewall management , moving user computers away from a traditional IP address set-up and ensuring Insite Energy ’ s VPNs and firewalls would integrate with Azure . This required overhauling the company ’ s existing VPN solutions from thirdparty vendors , of which there were many .
Additionally , Insite Energy migrated its top-up payment environment , which supports over the counter ( OTC ) payments at PayPoint outlets , requiring every UK PayPoint affiliate to send a payment request over a VPN link to the Insite Unix Payment Server in Azure . And seamless connectivity to its brand-new in-house prepayment web-app solution , KURVE , allows customers to make payments on the web , over the phone , and OTC . Multi-factor security for its remote employees accessing the system was implemented to assure the integrity and security of customer data .
“ Pay-as-you-go ( PAYG ) customers are the single most important aspect of Insite ’ s business . They have no other way to top up their utilities and our clients expect this platform to be up 100 % of the time . The Azure migration had to be cognizant of that , with downtime not an option . Given the scale of the project , this was a significant challenge for RJ45 , which it handled with aplomb ,” said Uys .
Benefits enjoyed by the company resulting from its migration to Azure include significant performance improvements and significantly more flexibility with all its services , including its call centre , now available in the cloud . According to Uys , its experience working with RJ45 has been excellent , even though the migration was a complex undertaking . The RJ45 team was always available for support , and it addressed issues virtually and instantaneously .
“ Within Azure , we can now access live data and be in full control of our environment . Insite can perform monitoring on an individual virtual machine basis to identify any bottlenecks , whether it be metering or customer payments . Previously , we had no idea why some of our servers were running slowly and had to throw more computing power at them . With the work RJ45 has done , we now have visibility of our entire IT environment ,” added Uys .
“ Our servers are now linked at the speeds required with no bottlenecks constraining our operational success . We can perform backups and have restores instantly available , which previously took a few days to perform . Our client and customer experience have improved significantly due to this , which opens up more business opportunities for us ,” said Uys .
Insite employees can now operate using a laptop and an Internet connection from anywhere in the world through a Windows Remote Desktop session . Azure has also significantly benefitted its old software licensing structure . •
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