Success Story: Terra Firma

Strength to Strength IT Systems

Terra Firma has experienced impressive growth over the last 7 years and has become one of Australia’s most successful international consulting companies. Its 250 staff provide specialised consulting services to support clients through the full cycle of project needs and facilitate the realisation of company visions.

>> Download pdf version 

The Challenge

IT Manager Ashley Watt had seen the IT requirements of Terra Firma grow from a ‘small IT cupboard’ to an extensive ‘company backbone’ that supports its staff and an increasingly large client base.

With a large proportion of its employees now working in a mobile environment, Terra Firma requires a flexible back-end IT infrastructure to provide access to key systems remotely, but the costs of providing these services was rising exponentially.

“The costs were becoming unsustainable,” says Watt. “Our business model means that we often contract staff for a short period of time, however the technological requirements meant spending up to $4,000 on devices for that short time, and then afterwards the devices gather dust.” Watt began to investigate desktop virtualisation as a way to improve return on investment and efficiency, and engaged Cloud Solutions Group (CSG) to advise on the best strategy for the business.

With the changes planned for Terra Firma’s IT infrastructure, its data security and disaster recovery (DR) processes also came under analysis. “We did a review of our DR strategy, and as we investigated more remote access solutions through the cloud, it became obvious that there were more efficient and economical ways to protect our data,” says Watt. “Our manual backup system meant that if a system went down, it often led to 48 hours of non- productivity, and when there are up to 250 people who cannot work for that period of time, the loss is enormous.”

The Solution

“We had worked with CSG in the past and they have always delivered good quality and reliable services,” says Watt. CSG recommended a large scale Cloud based Citrix desktop virtualisation and a TwinStrata Hybrid Cloud Gateway for data replication, backup tape replacement and DR.

The desktop as a service solution provides Terra Firma with the ability to scale desktop and application resources up and down as required. CSG deployed and manages Terra Firma’s Citrix environment on Ninefold’s infrastructure as a service platform. CSG created a cloud-based service for Terra Firma staff, who can now access all of their application and data anywhere in Australia using any mobile device.

“The upgrade of this technology has boosted our reputation as being at the forefront of what is available for business solutions,” says Watt. He says some of their biggest clients were won over by their mobile staff’s ability to answer questions in real-time using the Citrix technology.

“For us, it’s a no-brainer,” he says. “We are investing in technology that not only saves us maintenance costs with the pay-as-you-go set up for access, but we are ultimately allowing the people who are earning us money to do so as efficiently as possible.”

“The upgrade to our DR system also eliminated the opportunity for human error,” says Watt. “It ensures that if we go down, we can be back up in a matter of hours and our clients’ most important information is securely protected.”

The Future

The proactive approach that Terra Firma has taken with its IT development over the past four years has been highly beneficial, and Watt attributes this to a business-wide understanding that the company’s results are directly related to the efficiency and reliability of its office-based and mobile IT environment. Watt believes that investing in the best technology available has allowed Terra Firma to continuously achieve results above its expectations, and that a continued partnership with CSG will ensure that their IT infrastructure continues to support the business.

Key Benefits 

  • Highly available network in a mobile environment
  • Pay-as-you-go flexibility for desktop and application access
  • Reduced physical hardware costs
  • Automatic failover DR capabilities
  • Recorded no unplanned downtime since installation

Technology Used 

  • Citrix XenApp 6.5
  • EMC VNXe3100
  • Microsoft Active Directory 2008 R2
  • Microsoft Exchange 2010
  • TwinStrata CloudArray
  • VMware vSphere 5.0

Solution Areas

  • Authentication
  • Cloud Backup
  • Cloud Disaster Recovery
  • Cloud Storage
  • Desktop and Application virtualisation
  • Desktop as a Service
  • Infrastructure as a Service
  • Journey to Cloud
  • Messaging and Collaboration
  • Mobility and BYO Device
  • Secure Remote Access