2018 CRN Impact Awards: OBT and Planet Plumbing

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2018 CRN Impact Awards: OBT and Planet Plumbing

Planet Plumbing has replaced its remote desktop system with a security-hardened Office 365 environment.

The industrial contractor, whose clients have included the Department of Defence, Multiplex and Mirvac, had been providing its 300 users a high-end Citrix hosted desktop with email and Office access since 2010.

However, the decision was made to “right-size” the system after a review found it offered more functionality than business users actually needed.

The contractor was also keen to reduce its overheads in order to stay competitive in the price-sensitive construction sector.

“With business pressures we have to stay under budget, and everything helps. Overheads make or break us,” CEO Anthony Alafaci said.

“Our ability to respond quickly to customer needs and maintain their confidence cost-effectively is paramount.”

The company had its sights set on Office 365, but a five-month proof-of-concept kicked off in July last year found that the cloud’s native security and data retention capabilities did not meet requirements.

In particular, Alafaci wanted to be able to approve or revoke user access at any time, while keeping tabs on who accessed what information.

The company worked with OBT to find a way to harden Office 365.

The result of this work is a completely new security-as-a-service product in OBT’s portfolio called Secure365.

It consists of technologies from multiple third-party providers and is designed to handle cyber security, backup and recovery and offer multiple layers of protection against threats and accidental deletions, while improving governance and e-discovery, especially for email.

Secure365 also includes technical capabilities covering endpoint protection, mobile device
management, and anti-virus for Office 365.

Coinciding with the adoption of Office 365, Planet Plumbing also slimmed down its network architecture, decommissioning a costly fibre MPLS service in favour of a cheaper solution with similar quality of service.

Users access Office 365 via a refreshed fleet of mobile devices. The contractor now also supports BYOD hardware.

The new system has cut up to 70 percent of the cost out of providing remote desktop services, while maintaining the company’s security posture.

It is also estimated to have saved the company around six hours in help desk costs a month, because a self-service portal can now be used for common problems such as account unlocks.

OBT said it had to overcome several challenges as it scoped and built the new system with Planet Plumbing.

“A customer’s real-world environment presents unique challenges that no amount of experimenting, requirements-gathering and testing can anticipate, particularly when a new service is being pioneered,” it said.

As much as possible, OBT was able to replicate the functionality users relied on in the old Citrix remote desktop in the new cloud-based platform.

OBT also focused efforts around educating users around new ways of working with Office 365.

This included making sure that users didn’t accidentally monopolise bandwidth – such as by performing large systems updates - since that could cause repercussions for the entire company.

“Each time there was an issue raised, OBT figured out a solution,” it said.

“Given the complexity of the project, innovation in this area is ongoing as new challenges emerge.”

OBT is a finalist in the 'Trusted Systems' category in the 2018 CRN Impact Awards. For a list of all finalists and further details on the awards, please head to the CRN Impact Awards hub. The awards take place during the CRN Pipeline conference. You can get more information and purchase tickets here.

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