A leader in the commercial audio-visual integrator industry, CCS Presentation Systems helps clients present a better image of themselves through technology. Founded in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1981, CCS provides full-service audio and video equipment integration, installation, training, and maintenance to a variety of industries. CCS' AV consultants have decades of experience. With offices in 25 states and more than 350 employees, CCS has grown from a two-person operation into one of the largest AV integration groups in the U.S.
“Partnering with Rackspace Technology was instrumental in designing and implementing cloud-based solutions that enabled us to take our digital evolution to the next level and set the baseline for our partner locations.”
The obstacles they faced
With a firm deadline for moving to its new headquarters, CCS needed to move its business-critical IT infrastructure, including Active Directory and file servers, data storage and disaster recovery from its on-premises environment. To achieve this complex migration, CCS partnered with Rackspace Technology® to implement cloud networking, servers and storage with backup and recovery services.
The objective was to reduce CCS’s reliance on physical apparatus and transition its users to cloud-based technologies. Also, the company wanted to implement new technology on laptops across the new HQ infrastructure including thin-client laptops for most of its mobile staff members.
Complicating the initiative was an undiscovered requirement for traffic routing, which created a roadblock with networking. The Rackspace Technology team and CCS IT Director worked together to troubleshoot the issue, electing to use the recently launched standard network features for Microsoft Azure NetApp Files (ANF), specifically, its user-defined routes on a delegated subnet for its ANF file shares.
“We didn’t have to hire several skilled individuals in different fields to make this happen. I was able to rely on a pod of resources on an as-needed basis thanks to Rackspace Elastic Engineering, which was crucial.”
How we helped
To execute the migration initiative, CCS had to switch to a new software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) provider, set up thin client terminals, and synthesize a solution that addressed the design constraints imposed by the SD-WAN provider and the Microsoft networking stack. The team adapted and overcame the SD-WAN obstacle with the timely introduction of a new Microsoft networking stack for the file service.
Despite CCS having a one-person IT shop that was struggling to meet its rapid-growth needs, the Rackspace Technology team was able to provide CCS with a solution that leveraged Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktops.
The solution included a Well-Architected Review of their existing Microsoft Azure environment that hosted their ERP platform and O365 environment which was accessed from on-premises desktops. It prioritized a backlog of improvements, while migrating the on-premises servers, desktops and disaster recovery infrastructure to Microsoft Azure. It consisted of several facets including NetApp Files FSlogix services, Azure Virtual Servers and Azure Virtual Desktops in the same Microsoft Azure region as the ERP and O365 system.
The Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) solution needed to deliver secure access to critical systems and the ability to easily expand in the future. This was achieved by synchronizing the company's existing on-premises Active Directory Domain Services with Microsoft Azure Active Directory from their O365 which also incorporates multi-factor authentication (MFA) for added security.
The solution also used a Landing Zone architecture incorporating a third-party (Cato Networks) SD-WAN solution, as well as virtual private networks (VPNs), to provide secure access to on-premises systems and support Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) replication.
What we achieved together
In just two months, CCS was able to transition to Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop, while, at the same time, moving to its new headquarters. The move resulted in a reduction of downtime and an increase in workplace productivity.
CCS says the removal of aging technology and its transition to the cloud have helped it save time, reduce costs and improve performance while eliminating the need to upgrade equipment every few years.
Rackspace Technology provided the resources and expertise needed to help execute a successful cloud migration strategy. Now, CCS’s employees and partners are able to shape their businesses and deliver outcomes thanks to a cloud solution built according to best-practice architecture design and processes.
The Rackspace Elastic Engineering team enabled CCS to reduce its total cost of ownership for on-premises hardware refreshes and eliminate its reliance on physical hardware. This cloud-first approach solved its pandemic-related supply chain issues and supported remote access for its workforce.
In addition, the Rackspace Technology team’s collaborative support model allowed CCS’s one IT professional to meet a time-sensitive digital transformation without recruiting multiple expensive resources.
The success of the collaboration demonstrated the importance of staying up to date with the latest cloud services and adapting to solve real-time connectivity issues. CCS is now collaborating with Cato and Rackspace Technology to secure its ERP software platform in the cloud. Since the company no longer needs to replace infrastructure, it anticipates a multi-year return on investment.
Demonstrating how customers can achieve stronger performance while reducing costs with a cloud native environment, the project also led to a large reduction in managing file storage by moving to Microsoft Azure NetApp Files. This provided a second significant reduction in the administrative overhead for backups.
“Our employees have been excited to experience the new technology, and it’s been a rewarding experience to watch them become comfortable with it,” said Glockner. “To many it seems new and alien. But once they caught on, it’s exciting to watch them say, ‘Wow, this is really cool!’"
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