Real estate

At a glance:

After freeing the Northwest’s largest real-estate listing service from a frustratingly unresponsive IT vendor, we built a more transparent arrangement with a cooperative team of network services partners, and transitioned control over day-to-day operations back to in-house IT talent. The strategy not only reduced costs and dramatically improved capacity and response time, it put the company back on the deed to its Information Systems (IS).

The problem:

For the 14,000 real estate professionals who rely on it, the online listings database maintained by RMLS is the company’s core offering. So when RMLS began to feel control over that product slipping away, it was cause for concern.

For years, RMLS had used a single managed services firm to handle all their network operations. But as RMLSweb grew in reach and complexity, this one-vendor-one-price approach started to seem less like a set-it-and-forget-it solution and more like an impenetrable black box.

RMLS had plenty of IT talent on staff, and suspected they could bring some of their network needs in-house. But with little transparency about what services they were getting—or what they were paying for each one—they couldn’t tell whether such changes would pencil out or not.

Add to this the inefficiency of having to go to the vendor for even minor changes, throw in a few reliability issues, and RMLS was starting to feel locked out of their own operation.

Solutions: Analysis, Recommendations and Strategy

We started with a systematic analysis of the existing network, including a billing and services audit, equipment inventory, and a complete security and vulnerability assessment.

With this intelligence in hand, we were able to design a new network tailored to RMLS’s needs. We suggested moving the current on-premises data center to a dedicated commercial co-location facility, which would be more reliable, more physically secure, and better able to handle spikes in traffic.

We also recommended replacing the single legacy vendor with a team of managed services partners that could work together with RMLS’s in-house staff to manage the network. This would reduce costs and improve reliability, give RMLS more hands-on control over their network operations, and provide the agility to handle issues as soon as they come up.

Solutions: Action and Implementation

Once RMLS greenlit our recommendations, we swung into action, hammering out service agreements with the new vendors, supervising the data center move, and making sure all parties were on track with the hard deadlines the implementation required.

After the initial rollout was complete, we stayed on the case to track any trouble tickets or incident reports that might crop up as the new system settled into mature stability, keeping the client well-apprised of our progress.

Just as important, we took steps to ensure the company staying in control of its IS. We provided training and education for RMLS’s in-house talent pool, bringing them up to speed on their new system’s improved capabilities and greater responsiveness to network events.

The Results:

As soon as it was in place, the new system began paying performance dividends. Network capacity more than doubled, and improving the redundancy of site connectivity at several of RMLS’ more important sites substantially reduced the likelihood of unscheduled downtime.

The cost saving benefits became obvious over time, too. The system’s total cost of ownership was reduced by 30% over the previous arrangement, with ROI achieved in just 16 months.

It felt a little like we’d handed them the keys to a new home. A flexible and transparent partner arrangement restored a sense of control to the RMLS team, giving them confidence that whatever network issues came up, they’d have the keys.