One area of specialisation for UA Technology Services (UATS) is the provision of consultancy, outsourced IT infrastructure support, upgrade and technology solutions to the UK operations of international law firms. The following case study provides the account of such a UATS client, ”Locke, Lord, Bissell & Liddell LLP” (now known as Lock Lord (LL)). LL is a US based law firm with a European satellite office, located in London, that provides facilities for up to 10 workers. The study illustrates how UATS initially resolved LL’s VPN (Virtual Private Network) connectivity issues between London and the US, and then how UATS went on to perform a complete review and upgrade of the networking and IT infrastructure within the London office.
UATS originally contacted Elisabeth Harper, LL’s London Office Manager, with a view to supporting their IT infrastructure in the UK. Upon our review of the systems and network configuration, it became apparent that there were stability issues with the existing connectivity solution that was intended to provide London users with access to the US based IT Services. LL’s IT Manager in the US was receptive to UATS becoming involved, as LL had not previously had access to any IT resources based in London.
Initially, UATS upgraded the office’s router/modem and internet service provider to a business class, managed, ADSL service and installed a cost effective firewall solution. This improved the stability of the service but did not represent a completely seamless solution for the users. UATS recognised that a review and upgrade to the London office network was going to be necessary, in order to provide both permanent and visiting staff with a more consistent experience whilst working within the corporate network and interacting with its business applications.
The recommendations of this review were as follows:
- The installation of a replacement 100 Megabit Switched LAN
- A replacement File/Print Server with backup facility
- A cost effective Router/Firewall/VPN Terminator to connect the London and Chicago offices
- Introduction of a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) for the servers and network/communications equipment
- Replacement of existing workstations
Working with the US based IT teams, UATS successfully completed the implementation of a fully switched IP network within the London office. A file/print server, using Microsoft Server 2003, was installed with a full backup system and all user data was relocated from the workstations to the new server. Logon Scripts were developed for all the necessary drive mappings and printer connections. New, pre-configured, PCs were shipped from the US and UATS migrated user settings and data from the old machines to the replacement machines. A selection of the workstation PCs were wiped clean of company data and, depending on age and specification, were then either donated to local charities or disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner.
Prior to the review, users worked by either establishing a personal VPN from their PC to the US and subsequently accessing the required services directly, or by logging on to a US based Citrix server farm. The very nature of this method of VPN connectivity had been a major contributor to the previous instability.
A business class firewall/router/VPN terminator was subsequently installed, in place of the temporary firewall, to facilitate a VPN connection via the Internet to Chicago (and the rest of the LL US based internal network). Once London was part of the WAN, it was decided to further enhance the installation by adding a London based AD DC (Active Directory Domain Controller). This, in conjunction with the Router to Router VPN connection to Chicago, fully stabilised the environment and dramatically reduced the delays that the users had experiences during login. This configuration also enabled users to access the PMS (Practice Management System) using local application files and directories.
The final phase of the infrastructure upgrade project was to replace the remainder of the original PC workstations.
Benefit to the Client
The current environment enables US based staff to visit the London office with their notebook PCs and continue to work in exactly the same way as they would in the US. Five “Hot Desk” workstations provide Citrix based connectivity to the US for those who choose not to travel with notebook PCs. US based IT staff can now remote control any of the London machines for diagnostic and maintenance purposes and it is intended that future automated upgrades will be designed to include the UK machines.
One of the main contributing factors to the success of this project was the cooperation between UATS and the US based IT team. From the outset, the aims of the project were clear and standards were agreed regarding the server and client software and the methodology for deployment. The IT solution that was implemented both fitted the existing requirements of the firm, but also catered for potential growth.
“As far as I am concerned, UATS’s top qualities are that they’re personable, have great expertise and represent good value for money. They generally resolve all our issues in a speedy fashion and talk to me in a language that I can understand. I am very pleased that UATS are providing the on-going support for our IT Infrastructure in the UK.”
(UK Office Manager – LL)
Since this case study was originally written LL have massively expanded their London operations. They now have a “Full Service” office with 40+ staff.
UA Technology Services assisted with the migration of services to the new location and setup of the office.
In the period after the move we provided “floor walking” consultants to aid with the orientation of new staff and assist with any teething issues experienced in getting a new “virgin” site operational.
LL decided that the scale of the new operation in London required full time employed staff on site. However, we still enjoy an ongoing business relationship with LL through the provision of skills and knowledge on ad hoc basis.