IFN Case Study – MacAllister Machinery

MacAllister Machinery – IFN Colo ServicesMM BC

Situation:

The heavy equipment industry has global suppliers of equipment. Local support is essential to distribution and customer retention. Individual pieces of equipment are often single-point job-critical items; good equipment and responsive support can make a project profitable; downtime and outages can destroy the bottom line and ruin customer relationships. MacAllister, Indiana’s leading heavy equipment supplier, knows its customers depend on its instant response and solid network among its locations, suppliers, and service providers.

  • The MacAllister Family of Companies was expanding quickly in its home state of Indiana and needed a data center that would allow them to grow their dedicated secure network and expand public network access.

Growth had stretched its IT infrastructure. MacAllister’s existing center did not have what the company required. Legacy systems now lacked adequate power and fire protection, security, and environmental protection from natural disasters such as tornadoes, or man-made failures, such as a loss of air conditioning.

Challenges:

Brute force solutions like simply expanding and upgrading the facility for communications was difficult, as it was located in an older area of Indianapolis where the surrounding infrastructure made communications carrier access difficult.

  • MacAllister had only one fiber connection at the facility, and it offered no redundancy. Garry Buechler, Director of IT at MacAllister, said, “We needed improved performance and capability for our multiple facilities.”

The existing system, adequate when new and less-flexible with each addition, was not yet a choke point, but it was perhaps next in line to become one, and its vulnerabilities were more apparent every day. Several solutions were floated, but it became obvious that piecemeal solutions would not be long-term, and a long-term, flexible, expandable solution was needed.

Actions:

When IFN and MacAllister got together to assess present and future needs, and the anticipated future growth, several models came across the table. Allowing for some unanticipated opportunities was another consideration: no matter what was designed for tomorrow, it could not become a stumbling block the year after tomorrow.

The final proposal addressed the needs, and accommodated future growth. Then things went quickly.Buechler explained, “Once we had the final IFN proposal that matched our needs and requirements for services provided we were able to make a decision rather quickly. Adjustments to the proposal were also quickly made, and most negotiation was done over email and the telephone.” IFN wanted things to go smoothly, and wanted everyone to understand exactly what was on the table. Buechler: “Their contracts for service weren’t complicated, and they are Indiana-based and easy to reach in the event a dispute should ever arise.”

  • MacAllister’s relationship with IFN didn’t end with the initial contract. “We have been live on the IFN network since mid-2012. Since our initial Indiana project with IFN, MacAllister expanded into Michigan, with 2 acquisitions in that state.” And where did MacAllister look? “Connectivity is through the IFN data center.”

The tradition of quick response and comfortable negotiations continued as MacAllister grew. Buechler noted that even when IFN isn’t covering a specific area, “We learned that renegotiating agreements for additional requirements was surprisingly easy. In those cases where IFN can’t provide the services we are after, they have been very good about providing good alternative sources to work with.”

Results:

The original list of problems has been solved, and the anticipated needs have been met. Subsequent expansion has been easy, fast, dependable, and friendly. Communications are secure, private, and environmentally safe. They can expand with a known partner that is easy to deal with and understands – and delivers on – MacAllister’s needs.

  • Buechler concluded, “It has been great to work with a local company that provides a fairly priced service for their colocation facility and for fiber network services for connectivity. IFN is not our sole vendor but where they provide access they been very competitive.”

Has the experience been beneficial? “Using IFN has enabled us to design or redesign our network in Indiana and Michigan and has provided an alternate source to leverage other vendors pricing for fiber services.”

And what has happened to the original structural problems MacAllister was facing?

  • Since IFN incorporation, MacAllister’s Indianapolis facility has gone from one which “lacked adequate power and fire protection, security, and environmental protection from natural disasters” to a disaster recovery site.

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