F12.net Empowers Customer Trust by Keeping Data Safe, Secure and Always Available

Schneider Case Study

Sept 22, 2019

With over 25 years servicing the IT industry, Edmonton’s F12.net has witnessed a sea of evolving technology and constantly changing trends. But one thing has remained constant for the solutions provider: ensuring customers excel at their business by entrusting their IT needs to experts.

F12 offers comprehensive managed IT programs — including IT strategy, cloud services, disaster recovery planning, simplified employee onboarding, and next-gen cybersecurity — to enhance customers’ productivity, allowing them to focus on their mission, free of technology distractions.

“We cater to small- and medium-sized businesses across Canada that are not necessarily IT experts but nevertheless depend on IT to run their business,” says Calvin Engen, Director of IT for F12. “We want to be more than just an outsourced IT company. We have the experience to elevate our customers’ businesses, beyond managing IT; our aim is to help them grow as a result of leveraging IT smartly. We build strong relationships with business owners, so they can trust us to advance their technology while they invest their time elsewhere.”

An aggressive business strategy

One of the services F12 provides is the ability to host client data and applications within data centres in Canada. More and more businesses are seeking hybrid cloud options, seeking the ability to selectively host services. However, few businesses have the needed environmental control, security and certification requirements; which is where F12 comes in. In early 2017, F12 decided to complement its existing Alberta based data centre with a new, fully-hosted facility across the country in the Greater Toronto Area.

“Part of our go-to-market strategy is to bring our cloud offerings internally,” says Engen. “Unlike the typical cloud or a collocated centre, our centres are staffed, allowing us to react to any issues in real-time. A physical facility also demystifies the cloud for many of our customers because they know exactly where their data are stored — they can see it; they can see the lights blinking on the servers where their data are located. It really helps to foster trust.”

F12 had a number of requirements for their new data centre. Top of mind was energy reliability — to deliver clean, reliable power to its IT infrastructure so that customer data is accessible 24/7 without any unexpected downtime. F12 was also adamant the facility have a high degree of visibility so that staff is able to see the different thresholds within the centre and be able to respond in real time if there is any deviation outside of those thresholds.

Connected power solutions increase efficiency and lower opex

F12 turned to Schneider Electric Canada to power all its data centre needs. Engen worked closely with the Schneider Electric team, exploring the company’s many options to find the perfect match for F12’s specific requirements. Ultimately, they decided on a full solution that included Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) monitoring, the EcoStruxure-ready Galaxy VM and EcoStruxure IT on-premise data infrastructure management solution, StruxureWare for Data Centres software, a management software suite designed to collect and manage data about a data centre’s assets, resource use and operation status throughout the data centre lifecycle. Together, this solution forms a key step towards operating a data centre that is reliable, efficient, productive and green.

Another advantage offered by Schneider Electric’s solutions is the ability to scale easily, thanks to their modular capabilities. “Scalability was a key requirement for us in addition to the basic efficiencies we wanted to gain,” says Engen. “Growth is a vital part of most of our customers’ strategies; we wanted our Toronto data centre to have the ability to expand to meet those needs quickly. We took some learning points from our Edmonton facility and decided we wanted something more modular so as we expand much easier.”

One unexpected bonus in the implementation was the addition of Schneider Electric’s new Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) battery solution, to improve critical backup storage in data centres. The original thought was to use a standard valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) battery like in the Edmonton facility, but when Engen learned of the new solution he was impressed by the many advantages over VRLA, including:

• 40% to 60% less footprint
• 60% to 70% less weight
• faster recharge time
• up to three times the expected life
• 10 times the number of cycles
• 30% to 50% savings in total cost of ownership

“What really enticed me about the Li-ion battery was the longevity and how it complements the Galaxy VM,” says Engen. “It’s a far cleaner method of energy storage, and it gives us a lifecycle of 10 to 15 years – almost three times longer than VRLA. When we looked at all the advantages for the slight additional upfront cost, it made sense. I later learned we were the first company in Canada to deploy this solution, so we’re proud to be leaders in such an innovative space.”

The journey continues

With the important decisions made, deployment of the data centre solution began in summer of 2017, with the facility’s grand opening taking place in September. As customer data begins its migration into the centre, Engen is highly optimistic, both for the facility’s capabilities and its role in F12’s continuing success.

“The Toronto data centre marks the next step in our journey to advance the technology posture of SMBs across Canada, by offering fully-managed geo-redundant data centres from Edmonton to Toronto,” says Engen. “We believe in creating a safe, secure location for Canadian businesses and we spent our time making sure that everything from our Internet connection to the suppliers we use all remain on Canadian soil to give that trust back to our customers.”

This article was first published online by Schneider.

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