Engineering firm Thiess has achieved quick set up of remote sites as well as better document version control and security with a AU$500,000 implementation of Packeteer's iShared system.
The company has used the system to consolidate its data storage from 40 different sites in Australia to one central location.
After talking to Dimension Data about the pros and cons of vendor systems and speaking to companies about other products, Thiess trialled iShared, the company's infrastructure manager of information systems, Richard Moran, told ZDNet.com.au.
The trial went well, according to Moran: "The glossy brochure was not too far from the truth," he said, even though some of the functionality was "kind of academic".
Because Thiess works as a contractor on jobs, site set up time is a big issue, Moran said: the company can win a job and need to be out on site within a week or two weeks.
With iShared, Thiess only needs to run a satellite trailer out, stick an iShared box on it and staff can access the same data everyone else is accessing, Moran said.
A recent example of where iShared has helped Thiess has been in the recent floods in Mackay where a file server got flooded, according to Moran. Thiess sent an iShared box out there and got the location up and running in a few days. "Because we have the capacity now to store the data centrally, we can make the end points disposable," Moran added.
The central storage of files has also avoided having multiple copies of documents hanging around the network. "We've had issues where people have spent chunks of their lives trying to merge documents," Moran said.
Specialists within a certain area have benefited by being able to access their data wherever they are, as opposed to mapping drives across the network or carrying it all with them on a laptop or hard drive, which introduces version control issues as well as security and governance issues, Moran said.
Verticals within the company are able to store their information together, instead of storing data by geographical location. The new system improves collaboration, visibility and management reporting within areas as well as increasing productivity, Moran continued.
There was also some initial consternation among staff, Moran said. "[iShared's] different to a file server. You can't take the file server out and put the iShared box in and no one will notice."
Because iShared has to go and check on the central version that no one has logged onto that file before opening it, there is a delay before opening files. "It doesn't take a long time, but there is a slight delay while it happens," Moran said.
However, iShared works better than Thiess had hoped, according to Moran, even improving the performance of corporate applications accessed via the company's network and Web browsing.
iShared has now been in place for a few months at Thiess. Moran believes it will be rolled out to 80 or 90 of Thiess's 180 sites.