Milborrow Chimney Sweeps

Milborrow Chimney Sweeps have been established for over 100 years, offering chimney sweeping, annual maintenance, stove installations and industrial boiler cleaning to domestic and commercial customers. The offices at Crawley Down are where sweeps are co-ordinated from by a team of call centre workers, who book them on and off jobs.

The Situation

Milborrow Chimney Sweeps’ aging FileMaker v4 database, workstations, network and server were in dire need of replacement, after being in service for upwards of 15 years.

The Solution

The design and build process for the new database will be covered in a future case study. With the new database built and ready for deployment, attention was diverted to the provisioning of the supporting infrastructure; workstations, servers and the company network. A large data cabinet and structured cabling was installed by a 3rd party cabling contractor and supervised by iSOS, laying the foundations for the rest of the system.

2 Mac mini servers were purchased and configured on the network, one serving the FileMaker database and the other providing file sharing and roaming network accounts for the 7 latest-generation iMac workstations. The Mac mini servers are configured to backup using Time Machine to a local disk, to protect against data loss from hard drive failure.

To speed up installation of the 7 iMacs, the NetInstall service on the primary Mac mini server was used to image the “golden master” iMac after extensive setup, and restore it to the remaining 6 iMacs, greatly reducing the time required to set up an office full of iMacs, as well as eliminating inconsistency of configuration between them.

A pfSense-based router appliance was chosen to provide network services and internet access via two BT Infinity connections, and a Netgear 48 port power-over-ethernet switch was used for both the workstation and telephony network. Care and attention was given to installing equipment in the data cabinet in such a way that allowed room for easy expansion by either iSOS or the 3rd party telephony provider.

Due to the rural location of the office, an APC uninterruptible power supply was installed, so that in the event of a power cut, servers stay online while the local diesel generator is started. This ensures that the database does not get corrupted from improper server shutdown.

User accounts were grouped by department, and granted access to their group’s file share, allowing secure collaboration. Restrictions were placed on the accounts of call centre workers, so that only the applications they require can be opened, to ensure a focused work environment.

The Results

Call centre workers are now able to log in to any workstation and have access to the database, calendar and file sharing services. In the event that one of the BT Infinity connections fails, internet access is maintained through the secondary BT Infinity connection. Workers desks are kept clear of excessive cabling with the power-over-ethernet network switch delivering power to the VoIP handsets. The system is kept safe and secure in the locked data cabinet, and backed up to ensure business continuity in the face of hardware failure.

Technologies Used

  • Apple OS X Server
    • Open Directory
    • Profile Manager
    • Roaming network accounts
    • NetInstall
    • File Sharing
    • VPN
    • Time Machine
  • pfSense
    • DNS
    • DHCP
    • Load balancing and failover
  • Netgear ProSafe Switching
  • Structured cabling
  • VoIP
  • TeamViewer Remote Support