Robin Hunuki
Customer Experience
November 24, 2021
min read

Faster, efficient IT services improve security, connectivity and collaboration using Microsoft cloud solutions and Espire IT’s MCS (Managed Cloud Services) model.

Melbourne’s leading automotive group, Beer Auto Group has revamped their IT systems to improve security, connectivity and collaboration across their multiple sites throughout Seymour.

As a family owned business that prides itself on its community, it was important to lead the way shifting from an outdated IT solution, to one that improves connectivity and collaboration internally and customer facing, as well as focus on all-round security with company data.

The problem:

Greg and the team unfortunately found themselves exposed to a ransomware attack, which caused the business to bleed money everyday they were offline. (This outage) highlighted the importance and reliance of their IT systems.

This is where Greg approached Paul Watson from Espire IT to help out with not only getting the business back online but to transform their business as leaders within the automotive space.

The process:

The focus was on these 7 key areas;

  1. Modern, forward thinking IT solution
  2. Mail and data migration
  3. Customer care, post migration works
  4. MFA (multi factor authentication) setup
  5. Real-time cloud backup solution
  6. Espire IT MCS (Managed Cloud Services) model
  7. Future services

1. Modern, forward thinking IT solution

Understanding the severity of the problem, Paul and his team quickly designed an IT solution that will not only recover the environment within hours, but to allow Beer Auto Group to adopt new technologies to help Greg and his team operate and scale, based on the businesses requirements and needs.

Understanding the key issues surrounding their recent ransomware attack and old, ageing, outdated IT services, using Microsoft’s 365 cloud services resolves all problems outlined earlier.

Considering the hack was through an unfiltered email opened by one of their colleagues, as an example, using Microsoft Safe Links could have potentially avoided this by having the link scanned and assessed before it could reach the user’s computer. What would have appeared would have been an error message stating that the URL cannot be opened and it has been classified as malicious.

Along with that, every time the internet would go offline at head office, or that the office would experience a power outage, the entire team and sites would render offline until the internet connection or power was back up and online.

This single point of failure however was made redundant once moving the workloads and operations into Microsoft’s 365 cloud environment.

The internet connection was not a factor anymore as they would be able to tether off their mobile or use another internet connection and it would be BAU (business as usual) continuing on from where they left off.

This also addressed the bottleneck issues with connectivity and collaboration between all sites.

2. Mail and data migration

Migrating emails to Office 365 not only enabled redundancy around connectivity and security policies but it also provided the team with many added features unavailable to them in their previous IT configuration.

Enabling DLP (data loss prevention) increased their security around sensitive data within the business. As an example, if credit card details were included in an email, Office365 would identify that this would be sensitive information possibly leaving the company and would flag this to a manager or owner.

By enabling this type of policy not only protects any accidental (or intentional) damage done to the business but also the customer as well. Having information like this flagged and reviewed by someone in management or the owner provides that level of protection that would rather not have been there in their previous IT configuration.

While everything is focused on getting the business back up and running ASAP, the silver lining in all this was to allow the business to look at new and improved configuration of their process.

Looking at the way data is managed and how best to approach it using SharePoint. Having data readily available to the team would be set up on the homepage of their SharePoint - with any old or outdated data, archived and removed to avoid confusion within the team.

3. Customer care, post migration works

An important aspect of any migration is the customer experience and how the new changes are adopted. Providing clear and simple steps to 1, provide familiarity with the new environment and 2, remove as much friction as possible to enable the customer to work as soon as they get back online.

A simple example would be the use of Outlook 2019. From a user perspective, everything is the same however in the background, everything has changed from the way mail is routed to the security protocols mail filters through to ensure the safety and security of its information.

4. MFA (multi factor authentication) setup

To help improve security we enabled MFA (multi factor authentication) for all the users. By simply doing this - can reduce the risk of identity compromise by as much as 99.9 percent over passwords alone.

While also enabling this, it was important to educate the users on how to use it, but also what it does and how it increases the security within the company.

5. Real-time cloud backup solution

With the main aspect of the business back up and running, one of the most important aspects of the business - is a sound backup solution. Now with cloud solutions, most often than not, the aspect of single point of failure is made redundant as cloud environments have not only secure, redundant services located in large data centres, but these data centres too, have protocols to fall back on should something happen.

Having said that, it is important to note that Microsoft do not perform hourly, daily, weekly or monthly backups for you to revert to should you or your team require that which is why we use Backupify from Datto. Using another provider, outside of the Microsoft ecosystem allows our customer to have that complete redundant service. Not saying that Microsoft were to ever go completely offline; but having peace of mind should it - Backupify provides Beer Auto Group the ability to continue, BAU until Microsoft’s backend comes back online.

6. Espire IT MCS (Managed Cloud Services) model

Now there is one thing having the environment back online, with security, connectivity and collaboration taken care of; there’s another thing leveraging all features available to the Beer Auto Group team. This is where Greg and the team have taken advantage of Espire IT’s MCS (Managed Cloud Services) model.

With any industry there are nuances that are bespoke to the business and as such, this is where Paul and his team are constantly reviewing, monitoring and updating any policies that are required by Greg and the team.

Examples such as Cloud App Security improves control over what applications can be installed on a company device. All applications can be approved or denied by management which will ensure security of the company’s data and equipment. As well, Microsoft Intune provides real time protection of all devices, ensuring any potential security threats are taken care of before they’ve occurred.

7. Future services

Moving Beer Auto Group over to the cloud was the beginning of their IT roadmap. Greg looks to advance not only the work he does with his team but also the work he does within the community, focusing on how he and his team could continuously add value and help other businesses and people out.

Look out for Greg and his team next time you’re in Seymour.

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