Case Studies

Case Studies from Hightrees Organisation Limited highlighting the work of our clients and some of the IT services and IT Solutions we have undertaken.

Website revamp for Belinda Goldsmith, a Professional Garden Designer

Website revamp for Belinda Goldsmith, a Professional Garden Designer 150 150 Small Business IT Solutions

Belinda Goldsmith LogoIn October 2015, we launched a revamped website for Belinda Goldsmith, a professional garden designer covering Wiltshire, Hampshire, Berkshire and West Sussex.

Belinda had a new logo created for her business, but her existing website needed updating on both the visual to incorporate this, as well as  rewriting and expanding the content on the site.

Hightrees Organisation Limited worked with Belinda to review what she wanted to achieve with the new website, offering ideas and suggestions so that she could work on the website content in between work commitments.

The site now has examples of her work, covering the core areas, which will be expanded out overtime to incorporate both old and new garden projects, as well as a News Section which will be covering seasonal topics in the gardening world.

Currently we provide website updates as and when required, but Belinda will be provided with training on the use of the website once we can arrange a suitable time !

So, if you are looking for a revamp of your garden spaces, why not contact Belinda Goldsmith (she is currently offering a FREE initial consultation)

Visit the Belinda Goldsmith website

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IT Case Study : Ayrmer Software

IT Case Study : Ayrmer Software 150 150 Small Business IT Solutions

Ayrmer Software Logo

Ayrmer Software is a leading bespoke software development studio, based in Devon, who specialise in  providing bespoke and turn-key business software solutions, professional b2b website design and web application development.  Hightrees have been providing IT support and VoIP services to Ayrmer Software for over 7 years, after a chance meeting through a mutual client.

Hightrees have helped Ayrmer build upon their internal IT infrastructure to improve their business and the services they can provide to their clients, here are some examples of the IT work we have carried out with Ayrmer :

Installation of in-house web development servers :

Linux based servers provide a centralised development platform for both new and existing client web applications as well as in-house development work.Using Linux as the platform base, means that Ayrmer can utilise the same technologies as their hosting platforms as well as testing upcoming software releases, trialling new programming libraries etc.
The servers (based on two different sites) are running in a typical LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) environment, which is ideal for building high-availability heavy-duty dynamic web sites and web based applications.

Backup and Data replication:

Core company data to two remote offsite facilities is performed by both in-house scripts and a third party backup service to ensure the safety of both internal and external data.  One set of backup data is purely for offsite backup/recovery purposes, the other backup set set goes to Ayrmer’s other development server kept a different site (any vice versa), meaning that in case of any hardware issues, development work can still continue at the alternative site.

VoIP Telephony :

Ayrmer software host their own internal VoIP (Voice over IP server) based on Asterisk.  The VoIP system provides telephone access to all members of staff by extension as well as pre-defined ring groups, i.e Technical Support, Sales etc.  As well as handling VoIP calls, the server also deals with the traditional calls over BT and provides 2 backup routes in case of VoIP failure.

Network balancing :

In order to get the best performance out of their VoIP technologies, an additional ADSL line was installed purely for VoIP traffic.  There is a mixture of physical VoIP Handsets and VoIP softphones. The internal network has been defined in such a way that VoIP data and general “internet” traffic goes via two separate connections to ensure quality of service.  Whilst this could be seen as overkill, it also provides a backup route in the event of any issue with either ADSL line.

Remote Working Facilities :

As well as being able to redirect calls to remote workers, there are VPN and secure access facilities available to all Ayrmer Staff to enable them to work away from the office – whether this is due to client meetings at the other end of the country or as in recent years, bad weather.  Server access, email and VoIP telephone services can all be accessed securely, creating the perfect remote office setup.

UPS Protection :

The core IT infrastructure is protected by small yet efficient UPS units to minimise disruption in case of power failure.

Summary

Whilst this sounds quite an expensive shopping list of IT requirements and services, in “cash” terms, the actual costs for the IT solutions implemented have been kept low thanks to utilising Open Source software solutions.

Software licensing costs have been kept to a minimum, (these are mainly incurred for the Windows environment), server hardware has been purchased without the “Microsoft” tax as Linux has been used as the operating system which has allowed more RAM and storage to be purchased, and by using compliant standards for the VoIP server (SIP/IAX2), hardware could be selected from a wider range of suppliers rather than propriety equipment.

As with any IT project, considerably time was spent discussing the “IT Wants vs IT Needs” which allowed Hightrees to get a better understanding of the core requirements of Ayrmer as a business, but also allowed Ayrmer to gain a better understanding of what was actually needed to be implemented as opposed to “I want a backup service”.

“We owe a huge part of our success, over the last seven years, to the systems we rely on day in, day out. Hightrees  have been invaluable in the implementation of most of our internal systems, thinking outside the box and finding solutions to the myriad of issues a business like our has. Put simply, Hightrees have given us an edge on our competitors time and time again!”
Charles Collins (Managing Director) Ayrmer Software Limited

 

To find out more on how Hightrees can help your business with practical and cost effective IT solutiosn and services, please contact us

IT Case Study : Goff Associates

IT Case Study : Goff Associates 150 150 Small Business IT Solutions

Goff Associates Logo

Goff Associates are specialists in Hotel & Spa design, eminent in their field for over 20 years.

When they moved premises, they contacted Hightrees to see if VoIP would be a suitable option for their new office.  With 5 staff members, a degree of flexibility was required to enable the staff to work from home as well as in the office.

VoIP Telephony

Basic speedtests showed that the internet connection at their new office seemed suitable for running VoIP and based on their existing BT phone usage and features, we were able to offer a comparable VoIP PBX system which would pay for itself in savings within 2 years.  The existing office number was ported to the VoIP PBX meaning that there was no loss of service on the main contact number or costly reprinting of business cards and stationary.

5 new Aastra VoIP handsets were installed, along with a VoIP PBX and an hour training session on how to use the PBX interface to divert calls, how to use the handsets to transfer calls etc.
To save duplicating the amount of users needed, i.e one user for the office and one for working remotely, the simplest option was for staff to physically take their handsets home with them, and plug directly into their internet connection.

Remote Control

Remote Control software has been installed on the Office PC’s allowing internal staff and Hightrees to remotely access the PC’s to help with any IT issues that occur.

Summary

After one year, monthly PBX rental and call charges have been greatly reduced to the point that the cost of the handsets has already been recouped and the average monthly phone bill is 50% less than their previous telephone system provider.

IT Case Study : Volunteering IT Services at Castledown Radio

IT Case Study : Volunteering IT Services at Castledown Radio 150 150 Small Business IT Solutions

Castledown Radio Logo

Castledown Radio, based in Wiltshire, provides a community radio service on both FM 104.7 and the Internet to the Tidworth Community Area.

Hightrees have been involved with the Castledown Station since its inception back in 2005 and have donated IT support, IT equipment and IT advice as an “in kind” benefit.

Being a volunteer based organisation means that the funds available have to be strictly controlled, so wherever possible Hightrees has tried to implement cost effective IT solutions and services which keep the running costs of the IT side of the community station to a minimum.  This means more funds are available for essential broadcast licences, audio equipment etc.

Here are some examples of the IT solutions we have installed at Castledown Radio :

IT Infrastructure :

Each Studio has multiple network points and is CAT5 wired back to a centralised IT/Engineering Area where the core IT equipment (donated and re-purposed) was being installed.
Centralising the IT and some of the core Audio equipment in racks in one location, means that it is easier to protect with UPS equipment & there is less chance of any essential equipment being turned off by mistake as well as helping keep the IT “clutter” in each Studio area to a minimum.

When the Station moved location, the entire IT and Audio infrastructure was rebuilt, from scratch and switched over with no loss of broadcast service to the listeners.

Repurposed IT Equipment

Two rackmount servers (end of life) were kindly donated to the Station and Hightrees setup these up using Fedora Linux as the operating system.  One server acts as a Samba server, offering Windows style facilities to the client machines i.e centralised login control, login scripts based on user roles, as well as Windows Profile storage and Home areas, i.e storage facilities specific to each user.
The additional server was fitted out with additional hard drives and controller cards to provide extra storage space for the audio library, again running Fedora Linux as the Operating system.

As the core purpose of the servers is to provide a centralised storage and network facility, the overhead of running a Microsoft based operating system, both in terms of equipment costs and licensing costs would add additional running costs to the Station which could be used elsewhere.

VoIP Telephony

Castledown Radio has been using a VoIP service since it was granted its FM licence by Ofcom back in 2006.  The VoIP system Asterisk is being used, which is again, open source based software meanign no licensing costs.
As well as being used as a normal telephone system, Hightrees have donated an ATA adapter which allows the use of normal BT type equipment so that telephone interviews can be conducted from the Station and either recorded, or played straight to air.
Hightrees donates VoIP Credit to meet the cost of telephone calls, which using VoIP work out cheaper than a dedicated BT style telephone line and the associated line rental costs on top of call costs.

Website & Email Hosting

Hightrees currently donates the domain name, web and email hosting facilities to the Station.  The website is built using Joomla, a popular Content Management System, along with some additional components and modules which give some of the radio specific elements of the website.  As well as providing web users with a chance to listen to previously broadcast interviews and events, it also acts as a backup mechanism for important audio and photo images, currently around the 5Gb mark but constantly growing.

Remote Working

Remote access to the Studio is available via the community edition of OpenVPN.  Keys are generated on a per user basis, and allows the volunteers to upload audio/images from their home computers to the servers at the Station.  Using TightVNC over the VPN means that the PC’s in the Studio’s can be controlled remotely, allowing changes to the audio software to be performed without a trip to the Station.  This has proved particularly useful where access to the Station has not been possible due to bad winter weather, but where essential local news information, like School Closures, needed to be broadcast at short notice.
Volunteers can download, free of charge, the necessary software to their machine and can quite quickly be up and running and working remotely.

IT Support and Services

As well as the specific projects listed above, Hightrees currently donates as a minimum, 1 day per month for IT support and 1 day per month for web site updates.

Social Media

We initially setup social media accounts for Castledown Radio on both Twitter and Facebook which are used by the volunteer presenter during live shows and “off air” to help promote local news, upcoming shows and guests from the local community.  It has proved to be a popular engagement mechanism with listeners of all ages.

Summary

By utilising an open source Linux based approach to a large majority of the “backend” IT, extra life can be gained from otherwise redundant equipment, but with no loss of performance or functionality.  Identifying the IT needs of Station and taking an alternative approach has helped keep IT running costs down, as well as, hopefully, making life simpler.

Whilst the immediate thought of giving away in excess of £54,000 may seem strange (the figure to date that Hightrees has donated in time & goods over the last 8 years), we hope that we have helped in a small way, to keep a valuable local community volunteer based organisation up and running.

If you are interested in volunteering for Castledown Radio, either on air as a presenter or for any of the many off-air behind the scenes roles that are available, please contact them on 01264 841047 or visit the website http://www.castledownradio.info