First Ireland risk management cuts costs, boosts productivity

22 Dec 2010

Leading insurance broker, First Ireland Risk Management will reduce IT energy costs by up to 60pc and boost staff productivity by 25pc, thanks to a new IT infrastructure designed and installed by MJ Flood Technology. The solution encompasses a number of key elements including a new network backbone, streamlined application delivery, IP telephony, data storage and a newly installed CAT6a cabled infrastructure.

The occasion of an office move to a new headquarters in Parkgate Street, Dublin coupled with significant company growth prompted the technology refresh as Sarah Sheridan, Director of IT with First Ireland explains. “The longevity and success of our business is driven by the fact that we are big enough to get the best deal for our clients but small enough to provide a personal service. In reconfiguring our  business operations across two sites in Dublin and Leixlip, we needed to ensure that our technology infrastructure was capable of supporting our business vision and commitment to superior customer service.”

First Ireland works on the basis of the paperless office – scanning in all paperwork and correspondence using a document management system. This means the capacity, speed and performance of the  underlying IT infrastructure is critical in keeping the business up and running.

Delivering more with less

A network re-design was undertaken with a Gigabit backbone and Gigabit speeds to the desktop. The existing server farm of 23 devices was reduced down to just 2 IBM SAN Storage chassis with 3 blade servers. By virtualising the company’s key applications, the IT footprint was reduced considerably and the cost of adding new  applications or allocating more processing resources to existing ones has been drastically slashed. “The comms room is definitely a tidier place to be these days,” comments Sarah Sheridan. “Virtualisation gives us maximum flexibility in terms of managing resources for our critical line of business applications. We can add new IT services easily and eliminate hardware costs by virtue of the scalability of the solution.

Enhanced customer service

The Televantage IP Telephony system delivers powerful voice features that help the company’s employees work more effectively. For example, voice-mail messages are consolidated within a single account for quick, easy retrieval and response. The solution also boasts powerful call reporting features supporting transparent capacity management as well as performance management for staff. Resources can be easily re-allocated at peak periods thereby reducing call wait times. The imminent addition of a GSM gateway will further reduce the costs associated with mobile calls. “Televantage supports our ethos of building personal relationships with our customers,” says Sarah Sheridan. “We try to avoid a rigid call-centre structure to our operations. Our staff spend time with our clients, understanding their needs and advising them on the best possible fit for their insurance needs.”

Meeting regulatory requirements

The IP telephony solution also delivers “off the shelf” call recording which meets First Ireland’s regulatory requirements. A 5 TB storage area network provides a durable and reliable repository for the  company’s electronic data, which must be stored for a period of six years.

More control with less administration

The deployment of Terminal Services with thin client at the desktop has enabled the company to centrally “lock down” the desktop with maximum control. With only one person looking after IT for 83 users, this is hugely beneficial as it significantly cuts down on administration overheads and avoids the installation of unauthorised and potentially harmful software which can be installed by users. “Thin client  technology is a perfect fit for First Ireland,” comments James Finglas, managing director with MJ Flood Technology. “It delivers the control, scale and responsiveness which the business requires and maximises First Ireland’s return on investment.”


Company: First Ireland Risk  Management

Industry: Insurance

Customer Profile: First Ireland Risk Management is one of the largest Irish owned Insurance Brokerages in the country. Originally founded in 1981, the company is owned and operated by its senior partners who work full time in the business. The company employs 89 staff across two sites and its extensive client list stretches from corporate to personal insurances.

Business challenge: The occasion of an office move coupled with significant company growth prompted a complete IT infrastructure technology refresh.


• Virtualisation of the network  infrastructure using VMware and IBM Bladeserver and SAN solution, reducing the number of physical  servers from 23 to 2 SAN Storage  chassis housing 3 blades.

• Complete desktop rationalisation  using Microsoft Terminal Services  and IGEL thin clients.

• 5 Terabit Storage Area Network based on an IBM platform.

• Televantage VoIP Telephony solution.

• CAT6a cabling infrastructure with Gigabit network backbone and Gigabit speeds to the desktop.

• Microsoft OVS licence agreement on Windows Server 2003/8, AD2008, Office and Vista Business.


• Projected reduction in server and telephony energy costs of up to 60pc.

• Increased staff productivity in line  with improvements in network performance.

• Enhanced control and less administration overhead in the desktop environment with lower cost  of ownership into the future.

• Improved customer service with full  transparency on call reporting and resource allocation.

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