XMA have provided significant value to us.
So says Gary Sussex, of Newham Council, when describing the benefits of partnering with the IT provider for the past decade. The Council first entered into the 10 year agreement with XMA in 2004 after HP won a contract to supply server, desktop and portable devices through a tendered leasing scheme.
Mr Sussex explains: “We signed the ten-year agreement with HP to provide Newham with the application servers and infrastructure required to support our citizens, we run a mixture of application such as payments services, council tax, etc and host our website in-house”. It also provides the technology used in the back office by 5000 office based staff.
“The whole of the Intel based estate runs on HP equipment including the data centre server and all end user devices (EUD), PCs, laptops, all the equipment have pre-defined refresh incorporated in the lease – all this is provided through XMA. We chose the leasing route as it offered us extra flexibility for managing our IT systems – and XMA has been essential in making the solution work for us.”
He added: “The real benefit of XMA is the value-add they can bring. They deliver the server equipment for us, unpack it, make sure the hardware configuration is correct and put it in the racks for us.
“Our data centre is over the other side of the city so this is a real benefit for us. We have desktop support staff based alongside the data centre who can greet XMA’s technical staff. It means server support technicians don’t have to on-site at that point. It saves them effort and lost productivity. If there are any issues during the installation process there are XMA engineers on site and they can diagnose & rectify the problem straight away.”
As part of the contract, Newham Council refresh all end user devices every four years. However, XMA are flexible enough to schedule the delivers to number of machines the council requires at any given time. Mr Sussex says: “XMA deliver just the amount we want, when we want them, this takes away the need for expensive storage facilities and allows us to provide a just-in time refresh service to our customers. That flexibility is essential especially when we are expecting to refresh 300 + machines in a month for example.
“XMA also mange lease returns. When a lease runs out they will remove the old batch of hardware that we have refreshed and arrange everything with HP with regard to the return of hardware and lease finance. We don’t have to do any of that which takes the pressure away from us completely.”
The partnership between XMA and the Council has been a successful one but only happened after HP recommended XMA as its preferred supplier. Mr Sussex says:
At the beginning, XMA was a supplier we knew little about but it has been a very good relationship. Since using XMA I would prefer partnering with them over using another HP partner or the HP Direct Service.
So what has been so beneficial about working with XMA?
Single point of contact
Mr Sussex said: “With XMA, we get a single point of contact. Queries are responded to fast and efficiently. We have had situations where they can’t solve a problem but they quite often come up with a workable solution. That flexibility is very useful, in an ideal world, we would have longer lead times for projects but, in reality, we often only get seven to 10 days to supply a solution once internal funding has been secured.
Mr Sussex added: “Sometimes a larger organisation is not prepared to go the extra mile for you. With XMA, you have the benefit of a big organisation but they also have the customer care ethos of a smaller company”. “For example, there have been a number of instances when pre-sales technical staff from XMA have given us suggestions for solutions that are significantly cheaper. So they have provided value to us in that way.”
According to Mr Sussex, XMA staff have also worked with his own team on individual projects. He said: “Contract staff have mentored our staff on project work and that worked out really well. There have also been times when the company has helped solve complex problems for us.
“For example, when we originally set up the agreement with HP we wanted Cisco switches in our data centre but HP couldn’t deliver at that point. Instead, XMA supplied the switches but partnered with HP so they were delivered as part of our overall lease. It meant we could pay for everything together but we could only have the solution we wanted because of the service from XMA.
I feel strongly that the approach from XMA is that they are there to help the council - and that is what they do.