November 20th, 2018
Ethical footwear brand Vivobarefoot has grown rapidly since it was first established in 1997 thanks to the success of its “barefoot” shoes, designed to give wearers maximum sensory feedback. The business required a new IT partner capable of supporting this growth.
- Transitioned from “archaic” incumbent equipment to new cloud-based solutions
- Delivered improved backup processes and disaster recovery capabilities
- Implemented improved connectivity through new leased line and better support for remote workers and Chinese satellite office
- Developed GDPR-compliant security policy including improved user authentication
Vivobarefoot’s innovative footwear creates a barefoot experience for its wearers while offering feet protection on city streets and other harsh environments. The shoes are designed to be kinder to feet, encourage a more natural walking gait and better posture and can reduce shock to the joints.
The growing interest in barefoot running and the barefoot movement, together with Vivobarefoot’s quality, ethical designs has powered rapid business growth and, in 2013, the company moved to larger premises in London.
The move presented an opportunity to upgrade the existing IT infrastructure, says Damian Peat, Director of Operations and Sustainability at Vivobarefoot.
“It was time for an IT overhaul. Netstar stood out because of their competency, Microsoft accreditations and good rates. Their people were very reassuring and professional, which gave us the confidence to go with them.”
Starting with a big project
Once Netstar had completed onboarding, Damian was keen to get started on the major project to upgrade existing IT equipment.
“We had very old servers and archaic equipment. We were doing manual daily backups onto tape, which we were storing in a fireproof safe and taking a copy home,” explains Damian.
Under Netstar’s guidance, in 2014 Vivobarefoot replaced and upgraded its server equipment, routers and upgraded their Internet service.
Most importantly, Netstar helped put in place a new backup and disaster recovery solution – so backups were automatic and stored remotely in the cloud. The reassurance of having good recovery systems in place has eliminated the reliance on tapes and delivered significant improvement and peace of mind for Damian and the Vivobarefoot team.
Extending into the cloud
The cloud BDR solution was the first of several cloud migrations. In 2014, Damian also worked with the Netstar team to improve Vivobarefoot’s email service.
“We had been using an old Microsoft Exchange server which broke all the time and only allowed users a very limited inbox,” explains Damian. “We also had a problem with everyone being on different Office versions. Netstar helped us to move to Office 365, so we’re now all on the same version and users enjoy a much better email experience.”
Vivobarefoot switched to a cloud-based accounts and operation software and then, in 2017, Netstar assisted with the implementation of an Azure hosted server and the Autotask file sharing solution – enabling Vivobarefoot to completely remove the need to run a server room on-premise. To support this change, Netstar worked with Damian to deliver improved connectivity through a new leased line – more than tripling capacity.
“Netstar has been very supportive all the way through. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” says Damian. “They have a strong team of people who are used to doing big projects. On go-live days they send people in who spend 10 minutes with each staff member to assist. That level of support is always very good.”
Excellent day-to-day support
Damian reports that staff know when they call Netstar the calls will be picked up quickly and the issue fixed with minimum hassle. Where issues are longer-term, there will be good communication.
Damian says, “Netstar has some total IT ninjas, which is useful. If I have a particularly difficult problem, I feel comfortable that I can contact people at Netstar who I know will be able to solve it.”
One example of this was the addition of the Meraki cloud-managed Wi-Fi solution, as Damian explains: “We were experiencing issues with bandwidth on the main network and I went to Netstar with the problem. They came back with a solution quickly which solved it.”
Chinese satellite office aligned with UK office
Another key enhancement achieved since Vivobarefoot switched to Netstar for its IT support has been the improvements to access for remote workers and the Chinese satellite office.
“Thirty percent of our staff are travelling all the time and access for them was difficult previously,” says Damian.
What’s more, the staff in the China office couldn’t access the Vivobarefoot servers and had to use local email accounts, rather than the corporate email service.
“Now everyone in the Chinese office has a Vivobarefoot email account, which is a lot more professional. We’ve also eliminated all the problems we used to have around document version control.”
Netstar’s implementation of a cloud-based file sync and share solution for Vivobarefoot has enabled the team at the China office to share information securely and access the external file share in a secure manner.
An end-to-end service
Netstar has also assisted Vivobarefoot in its response to GDPR, supporting Damian to develop a security policy and ramping up security with two-factor authentication across all systems.
Damian concludes, “The real strength of Netstar is it feels like a partnership. It’s very good end-to-end service. We’re in daily and weekly contact and we work well together. Based on their commitment to customer service and their technical expertise, I definitely recommend Netstar.”