Segen stays on the cutting-edge of the solar electricity market


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The solar electricity market has undergone explosive growth in recent
years as homeowners, farmers and businesses all look to exploit the
potential of solar power. As Segen expanded its operations to meet
the rising demand for solar photovoltaic products, the company’s IT
infrastructure was struggling to keep pace, and there were numerous
network issues around reliability, connectivity and security.

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Segen stays on the cutting-edge of the solar electricity market

  1. 1. IBM Case Study Energy & Utilities Segen stays on the cutting-edge of the solar electricity market With a cloud service based on IBM BladeCenter S and managed by Vissensa Segen was established in 2005 as a value-added distributor and installer of renewable energy technologies. Since October 2010, the Overview company has concentrated on the distribution of solar photovoltaic Business challenge (PV) equipment and the provision of value-added services to installers Segen’s limited IT infrastructure was certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). struggling to keep pace with the increasing requirements placed on it by Headquartered in Aldershot, Segen is one of the UK’s largest steady increase in customer demand. Its distributors of solar photovoltaic products, which it supplies to a physical servers were unable to support network of MCS-certified installers, and has long-standing trading the growing volumes of data being relationships with a number of major manufacturers. generated, while limited network capacity hampered communication across company sites and prevented staff from Keeping up with customer demand responding efficiently when new business The solar electricity market has undergone explosive growth in recent opportunities emerged. years as homeowners, farmers and businesses all look to exploit the Solution potential of solar power. As Segen expanded its operations to meet Segen worked with IBM® Business the rising demand for solar photovoltaic products, the company’s IT Partner Vissensa to migrate its two existing physical servers to a virtualised infrastructure was struggling to keep pace, and there were numerous server environment, VsX, which is based network issues around reliability, connectivity and security. on IBM BladeCenter®. Vissensa also provides a managed wide area network service and an on-site local area network, Previously, all company applications were hosted on two Dell servers and offers complete support and running Microsoft Small Business Server, located at the company maintenance for the entire solution. headquarters in Aldershot. Segen also operates a number of remote offices, and many of its agents work from home and remote temporary sites. As online systems became more critical to the business, having the servers on-site caused slow access for remote users, which made communication between employees and external contacts challenging. Furthermore, the sharing of corporate files across the enterprise was open to security issues, and difficult to manage and control efficiently. Lucy Loosemore, Sales and Marketing Manager at Segen, says, “As the business expanded and customer demand increased, our existing servers were struggling to support the growing volumes of data being generated. Additionally, our limited network capacity was really hindering user productivity and was the source of much frustration for staff.” Segen’s growth was in danger of being held back by the limitations of its on-premise infrastructure. As the company’s servers began to reach the end of their useful life, Segen took the opportunity to look for a new approach that would help it to improve business efficiency and react more flexibly to the needs of its customers.
  2. 2. IBM Case Study Energy & Utilities Highly-available cloud solution Segen’s existing IT supplier was unable to provide adequate support Business Benefits for the day-to-day operations of the business, as well as for the • Gained a highly efficient virtualised process changes which were required to allow Segen to cope with its environment that offers flexible storage increasing customer demand, prompting the company to seek out a management. new contractor. • Provided a reliable disaster recovery option, improving ease and speed of “We needed a supplier who could support all of our IT needs: database recovery in the event of failure. providing and supporting our servers, wide area networks and online • Improved business efficiency and customer systems, and offering day-to-day support for our desktop flexibility by giving staff remote access to users,” explains Loosemore. “Vissensa offered us a way forward by company systems. suggesting that we migrate to a cloud-based solution, and making it easy for us to do so.” Vissensa, an IBM Business Partner, virtualised Segen’s existing physical servers and migrated them to Vissensa’s VsX platform, a high- availability platform for cloud-based solutions. The service is delivered from state-of-the-art high-specification data centres and is based on the IBM BladeCenter chassis with HS22V blade servers, which are optimised for running virtual server landscapes. Vissensa runs eight virtual servers for Segen, which include a Microsoft Small Business Server, two database servers, a terminal server and web servers. This virtualised environment can be securely accessed on demand from any location via any standard browser, providing staff with full access to services in the office, at home, and on the road. Vissensa worked closely in conjunction with Segen’s other suppliers, such as the developers of the company’s customer website portal and order processing systems, to ensure full integration of the new solution with other business systems. Finally, a wide area network (WAN) service was implemented, which includes flexible and scalable internet connections at each of Segen’s remote sites. Vissensa provides full management across the WAN and Segen’s on-site local area network, and also provides capacity upgrades and desktop support to users. The cloud-based solution and comprehensive support and maintenance offered by Vissensa have essentially eliminated the need for an on-site IT department at Segen. Vissensa covers all the costs related to running and managing the server platform, and charges a monthly fee to Segen for its cloud-based services, which further simplifies IT management at Segen. Scalable storage and on-demand network access By leveraging a flexible cloud-based infrastructure, Segen benefits from the ability to quickly and easily increase the capacity of its servers to meet the growing demands of an ever-expanding customer base and rising staff numbers. This was particularly relevant at the end of September 2011, when the government announced amendments to its “Feed-In Tariffs” scheme, which pays UK homeowners for creating their own green electricity with renewable energy systems, such as solar 2
  3. 3. IBM Case Study Energy & Utilities PV panels. These changes resulted in a massive overnight increase in orders placed via Segen’s order portal and required the company to Solution Components double its number of employees. Hardware • IBM® BladeCenter® with HS22V Blades Furthermore, Segen has seen cost and time savings, as it no longer Services needs to buy and configure additional hardware to meet new • Vissensa VsX requirements. Reduced server deployment times will allow the company to expand its product range and get new products into its IBM Business Partner catalogue more quickly, helping the business to remain on the forefront • Vissensa of industry developments and increase revenues. The use of WAN acceleration technologies has allowed Segen to keep “We needed a supplier who down the size of the internet connections at each site, and also ensures could support all of our that its backup broadband internet connections provide sufficient connectivity to allow staff to continue working in the event of the IT needs: providing and primary internet connection failing. Now, employees have rapid, supporting our servers, on-demand access to company systems from any location, allowing wide area networks and the business to be much more flexible and responsive to customer requirements. online customer systems, and offering day-to-day Improved data recovery support for our desktop The service also allows for a cost-effective database recovery users. Vissensa offered environment to be provided and tested on a regular basis to ensure that, in the event of a disaster scenario, Segen will be able to quickly us a way forward by and efficiently resume business operations. “In the past we backed up suggesting that we our systems on tape and then moved to off-site backups, but it was too migrate to a cloud-based hard to test so we could never be sure if our data was really safe,” says Loosemore. “Now, we carry out tests on a monthly basis and know solution, and making it that, in the event of a failure, all our systems can be brought back easy for us to do so.” online within a couple of hours.” — Lucy Loosemore, Sales and Marketing Focusing on the business Manager at Segen Migrating to a virtualised, cloud-based solution has given Segen the capacity and availability it needs to keep pace with the growing demands of its business, as well as the flexibility to react quickly to issues as they arise. As Loosemore concludes, “With the cloud- based service, we no longer need to worry about the underlying IT infrastructure. This allows us to focus all our energy on the core business of selling and delivering products, and to respond better to our customers’ needs.” About Vissensa Vissensa is an independent systems integrator and data centre hosting provider with a proven track record of delivering innovative and cost-effective solutions across the key support areas of business optimisation, business protection, and hosting and managed services. Vissensa provides on premise, hybrid or hosted solutions for all types of businesses that require high quality, high availability computing platforms regardless of size. 3
  4. 4. For more informationTo learn more about IBM software and hardware, contact your IBM salesrepresentative or visit: ibm.comTo learn more about products, services and solutions from Vissensa, IBM United Kingdom Limited PO Box 41 North Harbour Portsmouth Hampshire PO6 3AU United Kingdom IBM Ireland Limited Oldbrook House 24-32 Pembroke Road Dublin 4 IBM Ireland Limited registered in Ireland under company number 16226. The IBM home page can be found at IBM, the IBM logo,, Express, Express Portfolio and System x are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at copytrade.shtml Other company, product and service names may be trademarks, or service marks of others. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference to an IBM product, program or service is not intended to imply that only IBM products, programs or services may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program or service may be used instead. IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts. In some cases, the hardware product may not be new and may have been previously installed. Regardless, IBM warranty terms apply. This publication is for general guidance only. Information is subject to change without notice. Please contact your local IBM sales office or reseller for latest information on IBM products and services. IBM does not provide legal, accounting or audit advice or represent or warrant that its products or services ensure compliance with laws. Clients are responsible for compliance with applicable securities laws and regulations, including national laws and regulations. Photographs may show design models. © Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 Please Recycle BLC03085-GBEN-01