Founded in 1953 as a commercial practice based in the City of London. Harold Benjamin acted primarily for commercial and property development clients.
Sustained growth throughout the 1970s enabled Harold Benjamin to establish offices in Harrow, South Harrow, Ruislip and Highgate. They discovered that to best serve the specialist needs of our expanding client base. They would have to consolidate their resources into one single location and, in 1990, moved to north-west London. Further growth has come about as a result of a series of mergers.
Harold Benjamin is now widely acknowledged as one of the UK's leading law firms specialising in national and regional residential and commercial property development.
Harold Benjamin had an on-premise environment and an expensive private cloud solution. 3Gi were given the challenge of improving their recovery time and point objective, all while reducing costs. Harold Benjamin also wanted zero downtime with immediate failover. As we are an experienced AWS Consulting Partner with specialisms in storage practices, we helped the business to gain a comprehensive understanding of their environment and set to work finding a solution.
To begin with, we looked to get a complete understanding of the performance and budget requirements. We spent time with the client to recommend the most effective solution that balances performance and spend. We recommended utilising Reserved Instances for resources unlikely to change regularly and presented the cost savings. We also offered Spot instances where it may be viable with low criticality services. When proposing cost savings like this, we will utilise the Saving Plan section of AWS Cost Explorer to price this and the AWS Simple Monthly Calculator. These tools allowed us to compare by region and instance type easily. As part of proposing an AWS project, we will always present to the customer an estimate of the forecasted costs, regularly comparing with actual expenses and closely monitoring the run rate once the project is complete.
The operational requirement and Recovery Time Objective / Recovery Point Objective were assessed during the project's design period. On approval of the final solution (Cloud Endure / AWS) we implemented the project alongside the now legacy solution. The legacy solution was tested, and then the new DR solution was enacted. We compared results to affirm that the right choice of technology and design was implemented, fitting with the required recovery requirements.
As part of our Daily Operations management, we monitor IOPS and storage performance 24/7. During routine reviews, we take the last three months data and analyse any bottlenecks or unnecessary provision of performance-based storage.
As part of our governance programme, we manage a backup profile and audit process through our Prime Services team that ensures we constantly review the design of backup jobs and clearly outline the RTO and RPO for each workload we manage the recovery for. Please reference our Governance pack for an outline of the Backup Audit. Once audited, all backup jobs are then managed daily to confirm completion and proactively address any issues.
The backup profiles allow us to govern the level of retention and RTO / RPO and serve as a guideline for our team to complete any restore requests. It serves as a design document for stakeholders to input data storage, backup capability and cost.
In this use case, the selection of storage type was quite self-explanatory. We did not need anything like provisioned IOPs for the workloads, so we selected the correct settings in Cloud Endure on standard SSD EBS volumes that suited the workload. We cover different levels of restore as outlined in the Backup Profile (which we do as a default for all clients in all scenarios). The Cloud Endure solution gives us a 'datacenter' restore option to failover the on-premise compute workloads into AWS on a real-time replication basis.
Cloud Endure replicates the SQL Database to AWS. We tested and confirmed there was little to no contention on resources of the production infrastructure with the introduction of the Cloud Endure replication.
We can utilise tagging to specify where Amazon S3 objects are sent to after a certain period of time. Where AWS S3 Glacier storage is required, we can automate the movement of data from Amazon S3 into AWS S3 Glacier as the customer needs. This is especially beneficial for this customer, who will legally be required to keep a specific set of data for extended periods, as this can be automated via tagging.
We have our own management practices using Datto and Amazon Cloudwatch to alert and report any unattached volumes and any volumes that do not have a related backup/snapshot policy. This is all managed by our Daily Operations process.
We have set up AWS Config alerts to notify us of volumes that are not in use to be actioned accordingly. Also, Amazon CloudWatch monitoring is set up to track the read-write access of Amazon EBS volumes.
We run a quarterly TCO management process to thoroughly review every aspect of technology spend on the AWS platform. We also leverage tagging and consistent reporting on forecast pays and intra-month adjustments as required. We are proficient in using the AWS Cost Explorer and utilise billing alarms with our clients regularly. Our Professional Services team ensure that these alarms are updated depending on current and forecasted change for our clients. Tagging for instances, volumes and snapshots are completed with new resources to ensure we can inform clients of accurate billing changes and the reasons behind them. Numerous clients receive a monthly breakdown of their services, allowing them to compare the previous months spend.
As a result of our team's extensive knowledge with Cloud endure and AWS, we managed to fulfil Harold Benjamins Challenge. The Client was pleased with the outcome, as they hit their targets while saving them money. This would not have been possible had we not used the cloud platforms we used, as these were the only ones that could have given us the functionality at a reduced cost.
Partnership Value Added
Outside of working with Harold Benjamin on their Cloud Endure and Disaster Recovery environment, policies, and testing, 3Gi function as the technology advisor and partner for the business, helping guide them to make the most informed decisions for the most value-added and productive outcomes relating to their technology stack.
As part of our partnership, we look to evaluate the businesses requirements, risks, and wants and translate these into a centrally managed and easily digestible Governance process – this process is split between the Pack, the “database” of information we use to advise on decisions and movements, and the “Summary”, a condensed review to outline quarters of work throughout the year.
The key areas that Harold Benjamin and 3Gi have focused on throughout the last mostly revolve around increasing the flexibility of their environment to allow for full-scale remote working, fly-away strategies, and the ability to easily transfer servers from one environment to another under the assumption the office moved location (which it did 8-months into the partnership). Security has also been a focal point of the strategy, with a finalisation of an Office 365 migration being complete, and a strict Azure Conditional Access policy being rolled out to the business.
Outside of the Governance process, 3Gi acts as the final stop in technology challenges for Harold Benjamin. Whenever the internal team require advice or assistance with an issue that they cannot resolve, this will be escalated to the 3Gi Architecture team to own the challenge until it’s complete.