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A Solid Defence Against Downtime

Strong Foundations

It’s an industry that’s currently worth £76.9 billion per year to the UK1 : interior design, renovation, and construction is big business. However, as anyone that’s ever watched Grand Designs will (gleefully) tell you, projects rarely run to budget. Delays caused by suppliers are one of the common causes – and that’s why Mandarin Stone, one of the largest importers and stockists of natural stone, porcelain and ceramic tiles in the UK, were keen to eliminate any unnecessary downtime from their business. Mandarin Stone have over two hundred different lines, with an extensive product range offering design concepts for both residential and commercial projects. Their warehouse, based in Monmouthshire, South East Wales, is the hub of their business. They have an annual turnover of over £20 million, and over 3TB of data. Over one hundred and thirty staff keep the business ticking; Mandarin Stone has nine showrooms, from Wilmslow to Cambridge, and communication between the Monmouthshire HQ and its branches is crucial. Mandarin Stone uses a medley of software, including SAP Business One and bespoke logistics software to standard Microsoft applications like Office. Every business function from pricing, to quotes and orders, from stock–check to customer contact details, runs from the company’s five servers. The businesses’ PCs are ‘real work–horses’ and, with so many dependent users, downtime would cause a serious issue. Despite Mandarin Stone’s well evolved business, their backup was stuck in the stone age.

“We were using an archaic tape system,” said Alana Preece

Time for Change

Mandarin Stone’s Financial Director, “and it was painful.” Swapping disks out is a time–wasting, frustrating task – and it also meant that the company was only able to take one back–up a day. That meant that a failure at 5.25PM would mean they lost nearly 24 hours of data. Not acceptable for a firm that takes over 200 orders a day, and runs a web store around–the–clock. The team at Mandarin Stone is no stranger to disaster. In 2014, their main server collapsed. The resulting downtime left the business out of action for two whole days whilst their external IT support company waited impatiently for a replacement server. With a growing turnover, it was a wake up call for the retailer; their BDR strategy needed to keep up. Each day’s downtime could potentially cost the company £100,000. 

A New Business Continuity Era That’s when Module IT stepped in as the new external IT support. The Managed Service Provider did a company–wide audit and immediately raised concerns about Mandarin Stone’s BDR strategy. They suggested Datto would fulfil their needs. Preece commented, “it was reassuring to hear a brand name, and to see how the solution had worked for other companies.” It was the day after New Years, over a year after the Datto was first deployed, when the solution really came into its own. When the staff came in that morning, they found that the server was down – again! A faulty air–conditioning unit – blasting hot air rather than cold – had resulted in a melted server, and nothing could be done to restart it. However, the team knew that this time would be different. They called Module IT, who immediately got to work. They virtualised Mandarin Stone’s entire server from the cloud. Mandarin Stone were back to ‘Business as Usual’ in just a couple of hours, a stark contrast from the agonising days of downtime they suffered last time. It also saved them around £200,000 in lost revenue – that’s a 95% reduction. The entire business actually worked off Datto’s virtualised server “without any noticeable difference” for ten days whilst Module IT tweaked and tuned the replacement server – a luxury few businesses have. When it did go live, it was like the server had never gone down at all. “Datto was invaluable,” said Preece, “and the device paid for itself in that one incident. Module IT handled it all, and it was so easy, we couldn’t even tell it had happened. The investment was worth it.” We asked Preece what she’d say to other businesses considering Datto; “Definitely do it. We know we can trust the solution.” 


Read our case study from Mandarin Stone here