• IT Services

The Problem

Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership Architects Designers Planners (MCM) is one of British Columbia’s most respected architectural firms. The company is committed to sustainable design practices in the built environment with the purpose of enriching the lives, health, and well-being of its inhabitants. Over the course of its 50-year history, the firm has earned a reputation for design excellence and expertise, along with an enviable portfolio of projects for a wide range of building types.  

The IT systems at MCM support a user base of approximately 65 staff, including MCM’s associate firms MCM Interiors Ltd. and FOLIO Hotel and Resort Architecture. In a project-driven work environment, senior network administrator Alvin Chung must provide maximum system availability to the Vancouver-based office.

“During busy times, staff may need to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines or respond to clients,” Chung says, “and that means 24x7 access to email, applications, and files.”

It also meant providing redundancy and a solid disaster recovery plan.

Chung took the initiative to develop such a plan. AutoCAD applications and data files are critical to MCM’s business, so Chung worked with MCM’s CAD Manager on user requirements. He also brought in network infrastructure consultants LineOneCorp to make sure the disaster recovery plan followed best practices. Chung knew they needed an off-site backup facility but preferred one located outside the downtown Vancouver area. The team looked at several options, some as far away as the interior of B.C.

When Chung found Smartt, however, he liked the fact that the location was outside the downtown core but still within easy driving distance.  

“As a bonus, I realized I already knew Smartt,” he says. “I had dealt with them many years ago when I was with another company and Smartt was their ISP.”

Our Solution

Chung first made contact with Smartt in December 2013. After a few meetings with Smartt, MCM decided to implement a datacenter back up. By February 2014, MCM had a co-located server and domain controller running at Smartt’s Burnaby datacenter. With a fibre connection to MCM’s downtown office, all email and files are replicated within minutes.

“Our goal was to replicate our server room,” Chung says. “The connection is very fast and I monitor the replication every day. It’s very reliable and the server feels as though it’s right in the next office. We have an unmetered connection, which is really nice to have. At the moment we transfer around 40 GB per day.”

The Result

Chung is serious about redundancy. In addition to off-site back up at Smartt, he also replicates to a second server located at MCM’s office, on a different floor from the server room. Now that the backup systems are in place, Chung is moving ahead with other initiatives to improve MCM’s systems, such as upgrading network switches and file servers.

“We have peace of mind,” Chung says, “that in case our downtown office goes offline or suffers some catastrophe our digital assets are securely backed up and available at Smartt. Smartt offered a competitive price, a convenient location, and a positive working relationship. Everything about the project went well, from getting the rack space, to dealing with their network administrator on the day of our move, and just support in general. It’s been a really positive experience.”