CMIT SOLUTIONS OF MONROE DELIVERS TAILORED IT WITH A PERSONAL TOUCH
Tim Flaherty, Managing Partner in charge of IT, Salmin, Celona, Wehrle & Flaherty
Hybrid solution 40-50% less expensive than virtualization, but delivers comparable security, scalability, automation.
Ever since its 1998 founding, Salmin, Celona, Wehrle & Flaherty, LLP – the tenth largest CPA firm in the greater Rochester, NY area – has realized year-over-year growth.
That growth is no accident. The firm’s mission and values are strongly client-focused, with a marked emphasis on quality of service, responsiveness, and personal attention. Clients, in turn, reward the firm with loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
Reliable IT is therefore one of the Salmin, Celona, Wehrle & Flaherty’s top operational priorities. “We cultivate relationships with clients by establishing credibility and earning trust,” notes Tim Flaherty, the firm’s Managing Partner in charge of IT. “And because we use IT throughout our firm—to communicate with clients, to manage client accounts, and to store client data—our IT systems have to be dependable. If they aren’t, our credibility is at risk.”
So recently, as the firm prepared to replace its aging servers, it decided to do more than buy new hardware. Salmin, Celona, Wehrle & Flaherty hired CMIT®, an IT partner that backs its hardware with the same kind of personalized attention the firm offers its clients.
Focused on understanding business and IT needs
Like many small-to-medium businesses, Salmin, Celona, Wehrle & Flaherty knows that emerging technologies have expanded the number of choices when it comes to configuring servers. The challenge is figuring out which architecture makes the most sense, both financially and functionally.
“As the head of IT, I read articles,” Flaherty says. “I learn about things that seem like they might work for us.” Flaherty was intrigued by cloud-based hosting, for example. Would hosting the firm’s applications on third-party servers save the firm money? Was it reliable?
Another alternative is virtualization, and in fact, the IT vendor supporting the firm’s servers at the time recommended that Flaherty replace its traditional servers with virtualized systems. “Virtualization offers better back-up and recovery than what we had at the time,” Flaherty says, “but when the vendor quoted us a price, the number was double what we thought we needed to spend. We weren’t convinced that the benefits of virtualization justified the cost.”
After hearing about CMIT from one of the firm’s partners, Flaherty invited it to submit a proposal as well. Flaherty was impressed by how CMIT responded. “The analysis was extremely thorough,” he says. “They did a great job getting to know our systems and understanding our needs. And their proposal seemed more tailored to our needs than what we’d seen from the incumbent.”
Flaherty also had a hunch that CMIT would be an attentive IT vendor. “I have nothing bad to say about our former vendor,” he says, “but they came across as a bit inflexible. So we decided to take a chance on a new IT partner.”
Upfront IT systems 40-50% lower than virtualization solution
The architecture CMIT implemented took a hybrid approach: CMIT retired Salmin, Celona, Wehrle & Flaherty’s three existing servers and replaced them with two new servers, plus a cloud-based hosting plan for the firm’s Microsoft® Exchange email application.
The new configuration reduced the number of servers the firm had to purchase, which in turn minimized the upgrade’s capital costs. “The upfront cost to implement CMIT’s proposal was 40-50% less expensive than what the other vendor proposed,” Flaherty notes. Yet it is also highly scalable: the firm knows it has sufficient server capacity to handle future applications and data storage needs.
In addition to upgrading the firm’s hardware, CMIT made a number of other improvements to the firm’s IT environment.
Many of Salmin, Celona, Wehrle & Flaherty employees need to work remotely; as part of the overhaul, CMIT upgraded the firm’s remote access capabilities, replacing a Citrix implementation with a more flexible Virtual Private Network (VPN), Sonic Wall. “The security is comparable or better, and it’s less expensive,” Flaherty says.
Servers copied to off-site location every 15 minutes
CMIT implemented CMIT Guardian® Secure Plus, an automated back-up and Disaster Recovery service. With this solution, every 60 minutes a virtual copy of Salmin, Celona, Wehrle & Flaherty’s servers is generated; once per day, a copy is also transmitted to a secure, off-site location. This solution significantly reduces the risk that client data or account records could be lost, whether the cause is hardware failure or a catastrophic event, like a flood or fire. The solution also eliminates the need for the firm to generate tape back-ups, a task that was both labor-intensive and time-consuming.
The firm’s servers and applications are further protected by CMIT Marathon® Services, which provides ongoing monitoring to keep all systems proactively maintained. This helps ensure issues that might cause problems are identified and addressed before they impact Salmin, Celona, Wehrle & Flaherty staff.
Flaherty also appreciates that CMIT schedules quarterly meetings to discuss any outstanding IT issues and plans. “It creates better communication and better accountability,” he says.
And that comes back to the personal touch that is so valued by Salmin, Celona, Wehrle & Flaherty. “From the beginning, CMIT took the time to know our business,” Flaherty says. “Today, they remain very involved. They don’t wait for us to call them with a problem—they take the time to find out what we’re thinking and what we need. It’s been a great partnership, and we’re very pleased that CMIT is now our IT vendor.”