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Case Study

AWS backup solution strengthens Maher’s security posture

Established in 1932, Maher is a UK-based provider of high-strength performance alloys and machining services to multiple sectors across the globe. Its extensive range of products, including round bars, forgings and precision machined parts.

Maher also provides technical support through its team of qualified metallurgists, engineers and network of global agents. That technical expertise helps ensure customers within the Renewables, Oil and Gas, Aerospace, Defence, and many other sectors have access to skilled, professional people accredited to ISO9001 and AS 9100 standards.

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Key facts

  • Performance alloys and machining services provider
  • Global agent network serving multiple sectors
  • Highly skilled and knowledgeable technical team

The Challenge

The past two years have been disruptive to business from so many perspectives. One of the most pernicious developments has been the rise in cyber-attacks on organisations of every shape and size. And with a huge increase in remote access to enable home working, the risk of disruptive ransomware attacks, phishing, and other attempts to exploit any vulnerabilities in an organisation’s security posture are only increasing.

“We’ve always taken security seriously and constantly monitor our systems to understand where vulnerabilities might lie and identify attempts to penetrate our defences,” said Chris Kane, Maher IT Manager. “Fortunately, it helped prevent a ransomware attack that our defences hadn’t picked up. Although no harm was caused, and no client data compromised, it made us look again at our overall security posture.

“We recognised a need to ensure access to rock-solid backups to enable disaster recovery should any future attempts be successful. With such backups in place, even if we were caught out, we’d always have a clean dataset to restore our systems. For years we’ve used on-premise tape backups for this purpose. Though they have served us well, they’re becoming increasingly costly and labour intensive to maintain and store.

“We were already supplementing our taped backups with a Veeam solution connected to Amazon Web Services (AWS) through Azure. When running short on in-house backup capacity, it was a simple way of quickly increasing capacity and resilience based on business need. The time was right to explore a fully cloud-based backup solution. Having worked with Softcat for many years, we got in touch to explore our options.”

Critical success criteria

  • Improve security posture
  • Eliminate costly and time-consuming tape backups
  • Implement cloud-based storage to aid Disaster Recovery (DR)­­­­­

The Solution

Softcat is an APN Advanced Consulting and Storage Competency Partner. It provides an extensive range of cloud services and solutions to assist clients on their AWS cloud journey. Karen Hind, Account Manager at Softcat, organised a call with Diego Viviani, a Softcat AWS Solutions Architect to discuss what was needed and explore suitable solutions.

“Diego provided a wealth of background information about how Softcat has helped organisations from multiple sectors leverage AWS services to enhance security and resilience,” said Chris. “Using real-world case studies of previous, successful AWS implementations, Diego was able to illustrate exactly how immutability - effectively a way of protecting data to ensure it is fixed, unchangeable, and can never be deleted, encrypted, or modified - works from an AWS perspective.

“Alongside the technical details, Softcat also explained the cost implications, how billing support would function and even provided a tool to help us understand and analyse usage. The tool would deliver granular data to illustrate what’s happening within the IT estate and identify further opportunities for ongoing cost savings.”

With the decision made, Softcat carried out the implementation remotely using Microsoft Teams. The in-house IT team was included and given training to help them understand how to get the most out of the solution. Chris was involved at every stage of the process and was guided through what was being done. “It only took a couple of hours to get the solution up and running,” said Chris. “Throughout, Diego took the time to explain important factors, make recommendations based on our specific needs and ensure the implementation went smoothly.

“We learned about the bundled in support service wrap and were satisfied that we could accurately predict and control ongoing costs. With limited IT personnel, one crucial element of Softcat’s offering was its pragmatic approach to overcoming the limitations of being a smaller organisation. We just don’t have the resources to deal with some of the more complex aspects of AWS platforms, so having Softcat on board was a real value add and made us confident we’d made the right decision.”

Solution highlights

  • Scoping calls to understand specific business need
  • Remote solution implementation and training
  • Comprehensive billing analysis and support service wrap
  • AWS Platform Services, providing:



    • Visibility and control of the AWS environment
    • Consolidated monthly invoicing

The Benefits

“From a reputational perspective, this was an essential implementation,” said Chris. “Our security posture is much more robust, and it means we can assure clients that we’re doing everything we can to minimise risk. We’ve moved on from a backup process that was costly, time-consuming and unable to provide the data intelligence we needed to drive the business forward.

“It’s a scalable solution that will help us make significant savings on an ongoing basis. We now have full visibility of what’s happening within the IT estate and the solution’s automated functions will drastically reduce the effort involved in maintaining resilient access to immutable, encrypted data.

“Softcat’s involvement simplified much of the complexity associated with the implementation. Aside from helping to configure the solution for our specific business needs, its help with elements like Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) were particularly valuable. With such a small IT team we don’t have the hierarchy to create and maintain MFA, but this was taken into account and provisions put in place to help manage it in the long term.

“Cost wise, it provides much-improved protection for a similar investment to that required for our on-premise solution. However, we no longer need to store tape backups and can easily scale to meet changes in demand. It means we can now face the future with confidence knowing we’re supported by a comprehensive service wrap. In many ways, the solution is about much more than headline costs. Yes, it represents good value, but the real value, from my perspective, is being able to sleep at night knowing we’re protected, and our client’s data is as secure as we can make it.”

Benefits at a glance

  • Improved security posture and IT estate visibility
  • Scalable, high-value solution with comprehensive service wrap
  • Configuration and ongoing support in line with specific business needs

Why Softcat?

“We’ve worked with Softcat for a number of years. Since Karen Hind took over the account, the relationship’s gone from strength to strength and I genuinely trust Softcat to deliver. It takes a hands-on approach to solution delivery and its AWS expertise is second to none.

“Having its support saves me so much time and hassle. I could spend days googling to try and find answers to challenges we face, yet I can now simply reach out to Softcat’s specialists and get a quick answer. Softcat’s ongoing support illustrates its commitment to building a long-term relationship. It understands our business, knows how critical cost control is and does all it can to deliver the best possible solution at the lowest possible cost.”