Financial advisors Finance Shop have multiple sites and handle highly sensitive financial data. With our fully hosted solution, they can work wherever they want and know that their clients’ valuable data is always safe.
Finance Shop provide independent financial advice for companies and individuals, with a specialised service for sportspeople. The company has its headquarters in Octagon Business Park, Norwich, with branches in Norwich, Gorleston and Lowestoft.
Sensitive data hosted in the cloud
Finance Shop have been a Computer Service Centre client for over 10 years. For day-to-day work, they use the Microsoft Office 365 software suite. As financial advisors, they also hold financial data for their clients, such as company pension information – so security and confidentiality are vital.
‘The data we store is classed as “sensitive” under the GDPR,’ explains Chris Mallett, Technology and Development Manager. ‘It includes documents known in our industry as “fact finds”, which record clients’ personal, health and financial information.’
To store their data, Finance Shop have used a hosted solution on our HAC (High-Availability Cluster) for many years. ‘Once you start having more than one branch, you have to choose between having servers everywhere or creating a single, centralised platform,’ says Chris. ‘We decided several years ago that the latter approach was more beneficial and cost-efficient.’
Secure remote working means Finance Shop staff can work anywhere, any time. ‘On the train, at home, at other offices, at clients’ houses – it’s pretty much used all over,’ says Chris. ‘Wherever you connect from, you see exactly the same desktop when you log in.’
Nutanix enterprise hosting
More recently, Finance Shop have moved to the next generation of hosted systems, Nutanix HCI. Nutanix HCI is a fully software-based solution that offers great performance as well as infinite flexibility and scalability. Since everything is ‘virtualised’ and software-based, clients never need to buy another server.
Another strength of Nutanix HCI is its robust business continuity management. If disaster strikes in the form of a virus or malware attack, all the data on the server can be restored almost instantly, using a ‘snapshot’ from some time before.
We offer three levels of disaster protection with Nutanix HCI. Finance Shop have opted for Cirrus, the highest of these. Under this setup, they can return to one of 16 snapshots taken at three-hourly intervals over the previous 48 hours.
Cirrus also provides Finance Shop with offsite duplication of all their snapshots. Their data is held at one of our buildings, while each snapshot is copied to a server at our other building. That means that even if our primary datacentre goes down, or is completely destroyed, the firm’s data is safe and they can continue working with almost no interruption.
‘Having previously worked in IT, I appreciate how advanced Nutanix is,’ says Chris. ‘I can see how it avoids many of the pitfalls of our old system. Since we switched over, we’ve noticed a 20–30% performance boost in terms of file transfers and generating reports.’
VoIP telephone system
Finance Shop also have a VoIP (voice over IP) telephone system hosted with us and running over a secure, stable MPLS network. VoIP uses an internet connection in place of a hard landline, which makes workspaces highly flexible. If one of Finance Shop’s branches were to be unusable for any reason, they could simply move to another one, or work remotely, and we would divert phone calls wherever they needed to go.
‘Since we had MPLS links between our offices, it made sense to use centralised telephony,’ says Chris. ‘We’ve recently upgraded the system and it works very well. By switching from traditional telephones to VoIP on an all-inclusive deal, we cut our costs from as much as £15,000pa to around £1500pa. So the new system paid for itself within a year.’
Overall Finance Shop are delighted with both the introduction of new systems and the support they’ve received afterwards, as Chris confirms. ‘All the implementation has been extremely well planned, and the support team are always there to help whenever we need them.’
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