Sea of Spam, Network Troubles & Backup Failures for Food Service Manufacturer’s Rep
E-Source is one of the largest food service manufacturer’s agents in the United States, representing the industry’s leading heavy equipment and small wares manufacturers. Based in Dallas, where they house corporate staff and a fully-equipped test kitchen for clients, they have representatives in Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Oklahoma City. E-Source has become the leading equipment source for the food service industry in Texas and Oklahoma by providing extraordinary customer service and excellent products.
The manufacturer’s rep became dissatisfied with their IT provider, citing a variety of service-related problems. Their provider became increasingly unresponsive to E-Source’s needs, taking longer and longer to act on requests for service. And the effectiveness of their support, when they did respond, slipped significantly, resulting in repeat visits to fix the same problem. To top it off, the IT provider’s billings were often inaccurate and lacked documentation.
“One of our main problems was spam – we were inundated,” says Manager of Operations Donna Bishop, who oversees IT among her many responsibilities at her firm. “Our staff was spending a huge amount of time each day just weeding through spam to get to the emails that were business-related.” And their network became increasingly unstable due to viruses that were unwittingly released when staff members opened emails that looked legitimate but turned out to be spam.
“We asked our IT provider,” remembers the fourteen-year industry veteran, “to deal with our spam problems on numerous occasions.” But despite the repeated requests, their IT provider did little in response and the problems persisted.
The manufacturers’ rep firm also experienced problems with Microsoft Outlook, periodically getting locked out of Outlook. Ms. Bishop says, “We would have to reboot our server each time to ‘unlock’ Outlook.” Their IT provider seemed incapable of identifying or fixing the problem.
Billing was yet another problem – the invoices from their IT provider were often inaccurate. “They charged us for services they didn’t perform,” observes Ms. Bishop, “and charged incorrectly for ones they did. We were expending a lot of time and energy double-checking their billing statements, which was made more difficult by the absence of explanatory notes that would have helped us to understand the services behind the charges.”
But the final straw, the firm’s Manager of Operations remembers, occurred in 2007 when E-Source lost a large block of emails. “Our IT provider had assured us they were regularly backing up our computerized data to tape,” says Ms. Bishop. But when the missing emails needed to be restored from backup tapes, their IT provider was unable to recover the data – and unable to offer an adequate explanation.
“We thought we were secure with the backup system we were using,” she says, “but we weren’t.” E-Source staff members were able to re-create many of the emails by contacting customers, but it was time-consuming and frustrating. And the firm realized their data was vulnerable and the IT provider could not be relied on.
“The data loss truly was the last straw,” recalls Ms. Bishop now. “We had reached the point where we no longer trusted our IT provider. At that point, we began looking for a new IT firm – one that we could rely on.”
Having been dissatisfied with more than one IT provider in the past, the firm decided to establish tighter criteria on which to base their decision on a new provider. Says Ms. Bishop, “We wanted an IT provider who would get the job done right and bill accurately for services rendered.” They wanted their network running smoothly. They wanted effective virus and spam protection. “We also wanted our IT provider to maintain a sense of urgency in responding to our needs and to handle issues proactively – before they became problems that affected us,” she explains. “And one who communicates what they do to handle a specific problem and what they recommend to protect us from similar issues in the future.”
After looking into several IT providers, the manufacturer’s rep firm chose VentureNet. According to Ms. Bishop, “We were impressed with their approach to IT services and with their professionalism and knowledge.”
VentureNet’s technical team migrated E-Source’s hosted network solution to two in-house HP servers, keeping the Active Directory domain intact. The team migrated the 25-user network from its hosted location to the manufacturer’s rep’s offices using the firm’s 20 Mbps Internet connection. During the same change-over, VentureNet engineers also implemented keepgoing.biz, their data protection and business continuity service, to answer ESource’s data backup needs.
Ms. Bishop says, “We felt no insecurity or cause for worry during any portion of the transition – none at all! VentureNet’s engineers impressed us with their competence, honesty and integrity. They really instilled confidence, communicating well what they were going to do.” A key ingredient in that sense of confidence, she observes, was how well the VentureNet team planned their work and communicated their plan to the ESource staff, “Our staff totally understood what to expect.”
The primary transition occurred over a weekend and, when the E-Source staff returned to work Monday morning, the network and data protection transition was complete and everyone went to work, business-as-usual. “Our staff appreciated that VentureNet’s engineers were on site that Monday,” says Ms. Bishop, “providing support, answering questions and making sure everything was up and running the way it should be.”
Ms. Bishop states many of her staff members commented that this was the smoothest transition they had experienced – and some staff members had experienced multiple transitions of IT providers here or with other companies.
And the results of the change to VentureNet’s service? “Our IT support has absolutely turned around,” says Ms. Bishop. “The 24/7 network monitoring has been wonderful. We have no problems from spam or viruses. Many issues are handled proactively, ensuring our network is running smoothly.” For example: VentureNet recently contacted Ms. Bishop because their monitoring determined some laptop users had not logged in to the network recently so that network updates and protections could be applied.
“When we contact VentureNet, we get results quickly. They respond to our needs in a timely manner and fix things effectively. We are confident that VentureNet will respond quickly and professionally,” says Ms. Bishop. “We also receive regular reports on what they did to fix the particular issue we had. And our bills are accurate and explained well.” She particularly likes VentureNet’s Help Desk Report, which accompany each bill providing in-depth explanation.
And the manufacturer’s rep no longer worries about another data loss. keepgoing.biz backs up their data every 15 minutes and stores it to disk in 3 separate locations. Should someone accidentally delete a file, it will be restored in a matter of minutes. Even a fatal server crash will not disrupt their business – users can expect to be back to work on the network in 30 minutes or less. Says Ms. Bishop about keepgoing.biz, “We are very confident that our backups are now complete and our data can be fully restored should anything happen to our network.”
“In short, we are very confident in all services they provide,” Ms. Bishop says. “It’s very important to us to have our network running smoothly – VentureNet is doing that for us.”