*Reprinted from article in Hewlett Packard publication of customer success stories

Byers’ Choice Ltd., a company that produces hand-crafted holiday caroler figurines, has evolved over the past 24 years from owner Joyce Byers’ home-based hobby to a firm of 180 employees who work in a 90,000-square foot facility. Their beautiful figurines – each a unique creation – now adorn mantelpieces and windowsills in thousands of homes and businesses each year.

The company sells its products through 3,000 retailers in the United States, Canada, Iceland, and Europe. As the business has grown, so has the need for a strong and stable IT infrastructure. Last year, faced with the necessity of replacing the 15-year-old UNIX-based server that supports all company operations, Byers’Choice turned to Micro Solutions Plus and HP for help. “We wanted to work with a reliable company that had a genuine interest in working with us and was as concerned about our problems as we were,” says David Daikeler, Customer Service and IT Manager at Byers’ Choice. “We decided to go with Micro Solutions Plus, an authorized HP service provider and reseller, based upon a recommendation. Every time we have needed help, they have been even more responsive than we could have hoped.”

A Commitment to Excellence

The selection of Micro Solutions Plus by HP as a Hall of Fame partner represents the affirmation of a shared philosophy: total commitment to providing superior service. Founded in 1987, the business model of Micro Solutions Plus is to become the “virtual computer department” for its small and mid-sized clients, and an extension of the IT department for its large ones.

Micro Solutions Plus first met with Byers’ Choice to discuss their need for a new server to support their ERP software, a package called ROI. After having learned that ROI would no longer be supported on a UNIX-based platform, Byers’ Choice had to upgrade to a Windows based server and wanted some advice.

“At our initial meeting, we did a needs analysis and for the hardware, we recommended a HP ProLiant file server,” says John Elton, President of Micro Solutions Plus. “We contacted their ROI company to review the specs for the new server to support their application. Then, we contacted HP tech support and went over the specs with them. They helped us to develop a proposal for a system that would meet all the requirements of the new version of ROI.”

A CarePaq for Extra Protection

After Byers’ Choice decided to purchase the HP ProLiant server, Micro Solutions Plus emphasized the need for them to purchase a HP CarePaq contract. MSP explained HPs excellent track record and post sales support and need for 24X7 coverage.  Approximately 80 percent of the data center hardware MSP sells is HP equipment. MSP has aligned themselves with HP because of their reliability and superior technical support. For any critical server, MSP always includes a HP Carepaq contract with SLA terms to protect customers from down time.

In the case of Byers’ Choice, the new server supports their entire business. Employees in operations, finance, sales and customer service all need to share information electronically, so the main fileserver cannot be down. A CarePaq contract stipulates that someone from HP will be on-site within four hours if there is ever a problem, and Elton is the first to praise the caliber of that support. “These are highly trained people who really know what they are doing,” he says. “By conducting pre-diagnostics remotely, they arrive with whatever parts are necessary to fix the problem quickly.”

Service is a Top Priority

According to John Elton, the relationship with HP Service provides two major benefits for Micro Solutions Plus. “First, we have access to their 1-800 level II technical support, which is fantastic. If we call in, we get right through to someone who is extremely knowledgeable. Second, because our clients typically rely on their HP servers to support their IT infrastructure, they cannot afford downtime. With HP Service behind us, we know that someone will be there to support our customers on a 24×7 basis and to get parts to them within four hours if needed. We place tremendous value on having the support of a large corporation behind us. HP has been very good over the years at doing just that.”

Virtualizing ROI

Once the hardware was selected, MSP installed the new HP Proliant ML 350 with redundant hard drives, power supplies, NICs in the Byers Choice data center.  VMware was installed and Windows 2008 R2 operating System. The ERP program was installed, and data transfer completed. New APC battery backup systems were put in place as well.  The end result was a totally redone data center with a new core server hosting Byers Choice critical ERP app ROI.

The Track Record Shows HP and MSP Provide Excellent Post Installation Support

Service is key from the Byers’ Choice perspective as well. “Everything has been running fine for us since we upgraded to the new server,” says David Daikerler, “but it’s great to know that Micro Solutions Plus and HP will be there whenever we need them.”