Brick by Brick
With more than 55 years of experience in the construction industry, it's no surprise that PC Construction has taken not only Vermont but the eastern United States by storm. The business proudly calls South Burlington, Vermont, home with regional corporate offices in North Carolina and Maine.
The company has come a long way from the small masonry construction company started by the Pizzagalli family in 1958. PC Construction undertakes projects across the Eastern seaboard and as far west as California. The Yellow River Water Reclamation Facility in Georgia, Hotel Vermont in Vermont, and the Molnlycke Health Center in Brunswick, Maine, is a testament to their expertise.
Time for a Change
As Director of IT, Randy K. Lessor's world was filled with challenges typically faced by most construction companies. IT needed to run a corporate data center in Vermont, which hosted server and storage infrastructure with all departmental and construction project shares, a VPN for remote access, and backup. Since projects were spread across the country, each project required its own collaboration infrastructure, which was done by spinning up an old FTP server and creating individual folder structures dedicated to each project. This was cumbersome and time consuming for IT because each FTP site took hours to setup. In addition, all access to employees and partners who needed files ultimately went through IT, making the IT team a bottleneck for productivity needs in the field.
With so many projects and people involved in the collaboration process, especially external partners, security was a major concern. PC Construction was setting up all the permissioning for the FTP servers, and with users constantly being added and removed from projects, there was always a chance that someone gained access to a restricted file. Even after all of the IT setup, if power was lost at the data center, there was no access to data until power was restored. Wasted time, security concerns and unreliable access from the field forced IT to constantly look for ways to cut down on costs and maintenance overhead, while making the field more self-sufficient and productive.
Finding the Right Solution
Lessor first tried popular consumer solutions such as Dropbox and Box. They scored high on ease of use but left Lessor still concerned about security and access permissions.
With so many partners sharing files, fine-grained access to specific projects and an integration with Active Directory (AD) was critical. The organization also needed a fallback plan for times when the cloud might be inaccessible due to connectivity constraints or issues.
In 2012, Lessor decided to look at Egnyte for the company’s enterprise file services platform. After a discussion with one of his developers and conducting research, PC Construction decided to move forward with implementing Egnyte as the core of the organization’s file management and its corporate file server.
All departmental file shares have been migrated into Egnyte from the data center. For example, Egnyte enables marketing and finance data to be accessible using any device from any location, yet IT can still enforce the same strict level infrastructure of access permissions that existed on the traditional file server. Lessor and his team also deployed Egnyte Storage Sync in the data center to maintain a local copy of files on premises and allow fast access. This is now the company’s fall-back plan when and if the Internet goes down.
Egnyte has become the hub for all project-based files and collaboration, replacing the FTP setup. The IT department values the integration because it allows users, including employees, contractors, and vendors, to access the information and make changes without bottlenecking the IT department with questions.
IT can also provision a standard folder hierarchy structure every time a potential job goes from an active bid to an active project. The folders can be accessed by project staff from any device and location - in the office, at the job site or on the road. The folders are setup with appropriate permissions so that project and department employees can invite external parties to collaborate very quickly with specific subfolders and not the entire data set.
As Lessor says, "it used to take hours to provision an FTP site and IT used to be the bottleneck. Now we have a project structure up in minutes and users can initiate collaboration immediately with partners without compromising security."
Since PC Construction teams often find themselves working with a number of third parties to collaborate on projects, Lessor didn't want to waste time manually inputting every employee and every client, in addition to their permissions. PC Construction’s Active Directory is integrated with Egnyte, which allows users to access Egnyte with one set of credentials. If a user is no longer tied to a project or their AD credentials are disabled, they instantly lose access to all files.
Each project folder has unique permissions that users set up so they can decide what information a particular person views. These permissions allow for contractors, sub-contractors, vendors, and PC Construction’s teams to start collaborating within minutes, saving valuable time on projects, such as Hotel Vermont and The University of Vermont's George D. Aiken Center (Right). This control makes for painless collaboration combined with top-notch security, which is a number one priority.
In addition to being able to easily access files in the field and strong security permissioning, Lessor wanted a solution that was simple to use. It was important that not only the company's employees could understand the software but their clients and partners as well. With a new and improved user interface, Egnyte makes syncing, sharing, and editing files a breeze for even the most novice computer user. In fact, PC Construction received calls from its customers and partners thanking them for switching to Egnyte!
Lessor noted: "I started out looking for a tool to improve collaboration on projects. Other tools would have allowed me to share files on a few projects but still left me concerned about security. With Egnyte, I now have a single platform that has become our file server, addressing departmental and project needs inside and outside the company. All our files across the entire company run through Egnyte. Best of all I have users enjoying and looking forward to using Egnyte, which speaks for the ease of use."
Egnyte has helped PC Construction dramatically reduce IT operational costs and reduce the time it takes to provision a project by over 90%. With Egnyte as the infrastructural backbone of PC Construction, the company saves time, money, and puts company talent to the best use.