This case study explains how MSP Pisys.net has harnessed technology and processes as part of its expansion from local service provider to nationwide IT service outsourcer.
Pisys.net is a Managed Service Provider (MSP) established in May 2003 and operating out of Swansea. The organisation provides IT service and support services to customers and has since expanded from its original base in South Wales and now operates five locations across the UK. Each location provides a range of outsourced IT services and as the importance of effective IT for all businesses grows so has demand for its services.
In the years since launch, Pisys had made extensive use of a wide range of such IT management systems and ITSM tools but it had never been entirely happy with any of them. This prompted the company’s decision to evaluate and ultimately purchase Kaseya’s VSA endpoint monitoring and management solution.
According to Ben Burns, head of systems engineering and advanced support engineer: “Once we had a proper demo of VSA, we could see it was going to be so much more beneficial to our operations. It was a bit of a no-brainer to change, really. The other systems we used were either overly complicated, far too time consuming to use, and required an awful lot of training; or alternatively, they were relatively simple and did not do everything we wanted. VSA by Kaseya really hits the sweet spot.”
Pisys director Steve Bain endorses this view: “VSA has been the first product that I can actually say is really making a difference. It’s the first product that my technical team has told me works consistently well and always performs at a high standard.”
Putting the Solution in Place
With the decision to implement VSA now taken, Pisys.net set about the implementation process. It carried out everything over a one-month period, including one week spent on user training. During that period, the Pisys.net team also created a new infrastructure, incorporating clients and machines, backdated all the installation executables, and worked together with Kaseya to script the uninstallation of the previous system. A total of 2,750 endpoints are now delivered through the VSA system.
Pisys.net was clear also in what it wanted to achieve from using VSA. From the technical perspective, the ability to patch automatically without having to worry unduly about the process was a major benefit. The IT service provider’s team also looked forward to making use of machine policies, agent procedures and automatic scripting.
At a higher business level, though, the objective was more around finding a way to manage networks as simply and as seamlessly as possible. “You want to set it and forget it, really,” says Bain, “and with VSA, we successfully managed to do that.”
Today, Pisys.net provides a wide range of managed services through VSA focused around IT support, where patching is the main task carried out. With VSA, Pisys.net is able to adopt what is primarily a hands-off approach, leaving the application to run continuously. If a problem is identified on a particular machine and the patch is not updating, VSA enables scripts that are themselves capable of fixing the patching process. As a result of this self-healing process, the Pisys.net support team no longer has to spend significant amounts of time on each individual machine, fixing patches when they fail.
The company also makes extensive use of the agent procedure capability within VSA. “This function has been hugely beneficial to us,” says Burns. “With one client, I recall a problem where every machine affected was taking several hours to screen for updates – and the process would typically fail when individual users shut their machines down before the end of the day.
“Moreover, while the scans were running, they were using up loads of resources, slowing the machines down and negatively impacting user productivity. With VSA’s help, we were able to write an agent procedure that would manually install the requisite updates without the user being interrupted – and, as soon as the machine rebooted after that, the problem went away. That enabled us to fix 1,300 machines without the users being aware of what was going on. Without having access to the agent procedure capability, we would not have been able to do that, and that would have meant a vast amount of work on thousands of separate machines.”
Reaping the Rewards
For Pisys.net, one of the greatest benefits of the VSA implementation is that it relieves the pressure on the engineering and support team. According to Bain: “It takes some of the workload off our engineers which makes our support more responsive. As we can get support times down, we end up with happier customers whose issues are resolved more quickly and efficiently.”
Using VSA also enables Pisys.net to deliver greater peace of mind to its client base. The policies and agent procedures embedded within VSA further help to drive the agility of the support function. “Being able to quietly push out fixes to hundreds and thousands of machines, with nobody noticing at the time and only becoming aware later on when the service performance improves is very satisfying,” says Burns. “Remote support provided through the help desk is lightning fast, too. You simply click on a machine and you are on it immediately, and over the course of a single day alone that makes a huge difference to overall efficiency and agility levels.”
Burns also highlights that: “In addition, we make use of the reporting functionality within the solution to provide clients with monthly network reports, which give them greater insight into overall performance levels. That in turn gives them enhanced peace of mind both in the performance of their own network and in the service we are providing them.”
“Other systems we have tried seem to do some of what VSA by Kaseya can provide,” adds Bain. “But no other system we have tested brings together everything needed for efficient and effective IT management and monitoring, all within the same solution. That for us is what makes VSA stand out from the pack – and why we are happy with what it has already brought to our business and confident of what it will bring in the future.”