Metal Tronics operates in a fast-paced manufacturing environment—customers are often under tight deadlines that require Metal Tronics to perform as a key partner in their fabricated metal supply chains. IT systems must consistently support this effort or else Metal Tronics will not meet the needs of its customers.

“Mission has a very strong relationship with AWS, which is key because we need the two of them to work well together to optimize our cloud system performance. From the research we conducted, Mission is one of the top AWS experts.”

Richard Hillard
General Manager

Highlights

  • Set-up end users to access AWS cloud via a virtual private network.
  • Closed router ports previously accessible to the public Internet.
  • Improved the performance consistency of manufacturing operations application.
  • Reconfigured Microsoft Active Directory and migrated servers to Microsoft Windows 2016.
  • Provided on-going system monitoring, management and end-user administration.
  • Validated system backups.
  • Right-sized AWS environment to optimize CPU, memory and storage usage.

The Challenge

Metal Tronics operates in a fast-paced manufacturing environment—customers are often under tight deadlines that require Metal Tronics to perform as a key partner in their fabricated metal supply chains. IT systems must consistently support this effort or else Metal Tronics will not meet the needs of its customers.

“We must have a reliable IT infrastructure,” emphasizes Richard Hillard, General Manager of Metal Tronics. “In a manufacturing environment, IT systems are just as important as the machines on the shop floor. If our network is down, our business is down.”

Working from CAD models provided by customers, Metal Tronics engineers use SolidWorks to interrogate the design for cost-effective manufacturing. The organization also relies on MIE Trak ERP software to drive business processes ranging from estimating to order entry, production releases, material requirements, inventory control and production floor routing as well as bar code scanning for real-time reporting and tracking.

To ensure consistent IT performance and improve system scalability, Metal Tronics moved MIE Trak to the Amazon Web Services cloud platform. “Although we knew moving to the AWS cloud solution was the right decision, we learned very quickly that who we partner with to manage the AWS services is critical to how successful the environment will perform,” Hillard says. “After experiencing inconsistencies in performance, printing issues, and general software access issues, it was time to find true AWS experts.”

The Solution

To resolve the cloud performance issue, Hillard determined Metal Tronics needed to partner with a solution provider with high-level AWS expertise. “We were convinced AWS was the best cloud platform, but we realized it takes a partner with the skills and past experiences of helping other companies deploy a properly-working cloud environment,” says Hillard.

A colleague recommended Hillard consider partnering with Mission, which had an office close to Metal Tronics. After meeting the team at the Mission offices, Hillard knew he had found the AWS partner Metal Tronics needed.

“The AWS training and the certifications that the Mission cloud engineers have earned prove the high-level expertise they can offer in cloud technologies. Not only are they technically competent, they are also tactfully competent—they know how to communicate in business terms that help us understand the solutions they recommend.”

Richard Hillard
General Manager

Mission impressed Hillard to the extent that he did not seriously consider any other cloud partners. “Mission has a very strong relationship with AWS, which is key because we need the two of them to work well together to optimize our cloud system performance,” Hillard says. “From the research we conducted, Mission is one of the top AWS experts in our geographic area. Partnering with someone nearby makes it easier to collaborate, which is vital when it comes to IT.”

The Implementation

Mission created a project plan detailing the recommended changes to the previous AWS environment that Metal Tronics had deployed. Mission also explained why it was recommending each change and how the previous infrastructure design created the performance issues that Metal Tronics experienced.

A key change that Mission implemented was setting up end users for secure access to the AWS cloud via a virtual private network (VPN). In addition to enhancing security, this improves the consistency of the MIE Trak application’s performance. Cyberattacks cannot breach the AWS network and cause servers to shut down.

Following the re-architecture of the AWS environment, which included reconfiguring Microsoft Active Directory, Mission has since provided on-going system monitoring and management. These services include processing user account adds-and-deletes as well as validating the backups of MIE Trak and the SolidWorks CAD drawings to the AWS cloud.

By collecting system performance over time, Mission also gained the necessary insights to right-size the AWS environment and optimize CPU, memory and storage usage. As a result, Metal Tronics pays only for the AWS instances it needs.

“Recently, Mission migrated our domain controller, file servers and terminal server from Windows 2008 to Windows 2016,” Hillard adds. “They planned the migration very well and it went off without a hitch—we did not experience any business interruptions.”

Results

  • Ensures consistent application performance.
  • Eliminates security breaches.
  • Optimizes cloud usage with the ability to scale compute resources up and down.
  • Enables legacy production software to work with modern OS and cloud technologies.
  • Creates technology foundation to move CAD and customer data exchanges to the cloud.
  • Provides partner to guide future technology deployments and to validate cloud-readiness.
  • Allows Metal Tronics to focus on sheet metal fabrication with no IT distractions.

Mission demonstrated the level of expertise of its cloud engineers during that Windows 2016 migration. Metal Tronics uses a legacy version of MIE Trak, which makes it complicated to get the application to work in a modern cloud environment. Metal Tronics also wanted to avoid the cost of an upgrade.

To address this need, Mission configured Windows 2016 protocols so the MIE Trak software registers on the new operating system. “This is an example of how Mission does not rush into solutions,” says Hillard. “They take the time to get things right, so that anything they deploy does not require major adjustments afterwards. This approach saves the pain of a solution that does not work right.”

More than five years since forming the partnership with Mission, the Metal Tronics AWS environment continues to thrive. Two of the key reasons: MIE Trak performs consistently in the cloud, and security breaches are no longer an issue.

“It’s good to know Mission will be there to guide us and make sure the AWS cloud is ready to handle our future needs,” Hillard says. “We don’t want to be the first to do something new in the cloud. Mission has the expertise to determine the compute resources we will require and when AWS will be ready to meet the demands of our software systems.”

Hillard then summarized his thoughts on the Mission partnership: “Cloud computing presents a complex challenge that would require a dedicated internal IT team. But we want to focus on sheet metal fabrication, not IT. This is what Mission allows us to do, and over the course of more than five years, we’ve formed an outstanding partnership. They’re always there when we need them, and they don’t spin their wheels trying to resolve issues. They know when to escalate so that problems always get worked out proficiently.”

About Metal Tronics

Metal Tronics is a full-service precision sheet metal fabrication and CNC machining company based in Massachusetts. The company offers state-of-the-art technology and an experienced staff committed to providing custom solutions. Metal Tronics also provides assistance during product design and the prototype phase to help customers achieve lower costs and improve product integrity.

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