The name Tech Soft 3D may not be familiar to the majority of us, but you can be certain that in your day-to-day life you will encounter something that they have been involved with. The car you drive may have been designed using software that runs on Tech Soft 3D’s code; likewise, some of the applications on your PC, or the building you work in. We’re all familiar with what 3D printing can achieve, and this needs software to run the hardware that produces the amazing prototypes – chances are that includes the work of Tech Soft 3D team of developers.
Tech Soft 3D produce innovative graphics technology for engineering software teams and partner organisations including industry leaders such as Adobe, Autodesk and Dassault Systèmes.
But that’s a team that is spread from California and Oregon in the USA, to Lyon in France and Yokohama in Japan, along with a European sales office and training centre in Staveley, just near Kendal on the edge of the Lake District. Which is where iTek started their journey with the global software specialists back in 2009. Working with the head of sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the initial engagement was rather low-key, setting-up a hosted email solution for a relatively small team.
The Tech Soft 3D EMEA guys were spread across the UK and frequently working abroad so they needed a cloud-based, flexible yet robust cloud computing solution, so getting them onto Microsoft Exchange was the obvious choice. says Ben Mitchinson, MD of iTek Computer Solutions.
That said, it wasn’t the natural choice for the company as their IT manager’s background was in the Linux operating system and on-premise servers.Add to this the fact that the IT manager in question is based in Bend, Oregon, and levels of complexity start to appear: who were these guys in the UK and why were they introducing different networks and systems than the ones we use?
“We had introduced Office 365 to the Tech Soft 3D office in Staveley in 2009; although just a handful of users it was a really good solution – Mail, Active Directory, all the bells and whistles, everything you would expect from a large corporation.” “Their other global teams saw the capabilities and benefits of such an approach and started wanting to know how their teams could also be put onto a similar platform.”
Fortunately, what could have been a lengthy process with conversations difficult to facilitate across time zones was aided by the American IT manager, Eric, coming to the UK for a vacation with his wife, during which time he (very thoughtfully!) scheduled two days to meet with Ben and Adam from iTek.
“From that initial conversation, iTek were invited to submit a proposal for the IT support for Tech Soft 3D across their North American and European sites. At the time, iTek had only been up and running for about 12 months, so this was a massive opportunity for us.” comments iTek Lead Engineer, Adam Blamire.
Those conversations would prove pivotal to the future global internal network for the business.
Shortly after Eric returned home from his vacation, iTek submitted their plans to design and implement a Wide Area Network (WAN) across the two offices in the USA, one in Lyon and in Staveley. Three years later this would also include the Yokohama site plus numerous consultants and developers working remotely around the world.
The office in Lyon were the first to roll-out the new system with iTek specifying the hardware and software, planning the installation with contractors in France and then implementing remotely.
“Eric really went out of his way to meet and spend time with us, but that has been repaid in spades by what we all achieved from those early discussions; where the company was at the time, plans for growth and how a strong IT network would be needed to support this. The solutions we mapped-out and the global infrastructure is essentially unchanged nearly ten years later and still serving the organisation well.”
That original configuration was planned with scalability in mind, being able to be built onto as circumstances dictated.
The relationship we have with Tech Soft 3D’s internal IT resources and the collaborative approach has been crucial. Eric knows the company inside-out, how the global teams operate and what they demand from the system; we are able to support this, making sure that Eric can focus on his remit safe in the knowledge that we’re here to support him and the company all the way.
The system has been implemented further as new offices and remote working personnel came on-line. The main shared host server is still managed from California, with each regional office (Lyon, for example) having a ‘branch server’ which hosts data for that specific location and team who are working on different service or products.
The network features site-to-site VPN and routers which allow the locations to be consistently networked and talking to each other. This is an intelligent system, so if one link goes down then it switches to another router to ensure 100% up-time, so all of the sites can talk to each other, all of the time; if there is a server outage at one site, users can still log-on via a redundant link.
“There’s no denying this is a complex, global WAN infrastructure.” adds Ben Mitchinson, “Moving from Linux to Microsoft-based solutions was a key enabler; by migrating them away from premise-based exchange mail servers – which were each localised to one site – to a more unified cloud-based system has delivered both flexibility and scalability.”
“Although this took a little persuading before it could be adopted, it has helped create that robust and future-proof solution that Tech Soft 3D needed.”
The client has since moved their extensive Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to the same cloud solution so that it is easier to manage, maintain and keep secure.
“Looking back, it’s incredible what was achieved with Tech Soft 3D in a little over two years. They are a client we still love working with: their positive ‘can do’ attitude, their approach to working – they are what you would expect from the likes of Facebook or Google, even though their work isn’t as well known outside of the very specialist world of 3D graphics.”
The next chapter with Tech Soft 3D promises some more exciting developments with a new US-based director of who is working more with us to help plan next generation of cloud-based solutions. We’re all looking to see how we can progress the system further, supporting their success and growth in a really productive working partnership.
To find out more about Tech Soft 3D, please visit: www.techsoft3d.com