eSpida’s expertise and experience in implementing new technologies across multiple sites ensures changes are made fast, at a lower cost and with minimal business risk.

Alec Willis
Managing Director

CASE STUDIES

WHAT WE DID

Defacto Solutions has been offering bespoke software and development resource for Sage resellers, including CPiO for over 20 years. Principally a company of technical resources, Defacto sells add-on solutions to the Sage Line 500 and Sage 1000 enterprise products and provides development consultancy to support customisation. One of the company’s key advantages is its license to use the Sage source code, enabling the development of software solutions that are identical to the rest of the Sage product suite.

For example, the company has a Sage module specifically designed to support the needs of laboratories, including testing, inspection control and quality management, as well as DefCapture, a warehouse barcoding solution that has gained a significant customer base in the UK, Australia and South Africa.

The company, which currently has ten staff working across four sites, including home workers, is now gearing up to offer a range of bespoke developments for Sage ERP X3.  As Alec Willis, Managing Director of Defacto Solutions explains, “Sage ERP X3 is the next generation enterprise solution for the mid-market. It offers not only a new customer base for Defacto but it is also likely to be in strong demand from existing customers wanting to upgrade to exploit the latest functionality.”

While the Sage ERP X3 opportunity is compelling, especially given the strong demand from both resellers such as CPiO and end customers, the shift will require Defacto to extend its skills base and add new source code and tools to the business. “Whilst Sage ERP X3 development builds on Defacto’s extensive skills and experience in financials, manufacturing, distribution and logistics, this will be an entirely separate part of the business in terms of product development, build and support”, Alec explains.

The company needs, therefore, to consider the implication for the infrastructure. This includes the need to upgrade to Microsoft Exchange 2013 to ensure compatibility with the latest generation of Microsoft development tools and the need to support additional software solutions from Sage.

These extra requirements will put pressure on an already stretched infrastructure. As Alec explains, “Defacto is currently supporting upwards of 1,000 customers running on around 10 versions of Sage, all on separate servers in time zones across the world.  Sage ERP X3 will add another set of source code and versions, potentially creating an expensive and almost unmanageable infrastructure.”

To ascertain the best way forward, Defacto turned to long term IT provider, eSpida.  Alec explains, “In addition to on-going systems monitoring, the eSpida team typically comes in every 18 months or so to review the infrastructure, flag any issues and provide insight into new technology developments. Whilst in theory Defacto has the technical skills in house to make these changes, eSpida’s expertise and experience in implementing new technologies across multiple sites ensures changes are made fast, at a lower cost and with minimal business risk.”

Defacto has relied on eSpida for the past 12 years to provide both technical insight and innovation to the business.  From the implementation of firewall appliances and a secure Virtual Private Network to enable remote working, to the introduction of remote server reboot, streamlined web development and Acronis data back-up; eSpida’s advice has enabled Defacto to minimise day to day system maintenance, improve security and transform disaster recovery provision.

“We want to be writing programmes for our customers, not ourselves.  Following eSpida’s advice we have reduced the management time on our web site, transformed the way data is backed-up and secured and facilitated ever more flexible and collaborative working”, he says.

RESULTS

Since the shift to Microsoft Exchange 2013 demands a larger server, the upgrade provided an excellent opportunity to review the hardware strategy and implement a solution to accommodate the multiple versions of Sage software required by Defacto on a daily basis. eSpida recommended the adoption of a virtualised infrastructure, replacing the existing ten plus servers with two larger machines and using VMware to create – and remove – new servers as and when required in a matter of minutes.

Alec confirms, “For example, there is only ever a requirement to have a legacy Sage Line 500 CS/3 environment up and running if a customer with that version has a specific problem. At the moment, Defacto has a machine dedicated to that version running all the time. Using the virtual model that server will only be “spun-up” as and when required – if at all. In addition, new servers can be created to support testing needs and disposed of later. The virtual approach enables a far more efficient management of resources.”

Virtualisation also delivers a far more flexible business model. “It is extremely hard to predict business growth. In addition to the new opportunities created by Sage ERP X3, Defacto is working closely with development partners in South Africa and Australia to meet the high demand for the DefCapture barcoding solution. Virtualisation provides the business flexibility and reduces maintenance overheads required to manage a changing business”, he says.

Indeed, the overwhelming success of DefCapture globally, which exceeded all expectations, has underlined the importance of a flexible, extendible IT infrastructure. However, as Alec says, Defacto still only has ten staff and has no intention to expand significantly, with growth coming from expanding opportunities with partners.

“Defacto has a relatively modest turnover, and a relatively modest investment in technology, but the shift towards virtualisation and the upgrade to Microsoft Exchange 2013 is strategic, leaving our options open. Unlike many IT providers, eSpida’s philosophy is to solve customer problems irrespective of size – giving Defacto access to the skills, expertise and experience that will be key to supporting a changing and increasingly international business.”

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