JCoSS and Stone Group – a ten-year partnership!
Jewish Community Secondary School (JCoSS) is a high-achieving, aspirational, inclusive school based in New Barnet. The school is relentless in its pursuit of excellence, striving to provide inspiring, stimulating, and challenging education to every child.
The school nurtures keen intellectual curiosity and aims to empower students to take control of their own future and lead happy, successful lives in the face of the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
JCoSS is proud of the wealth of enrichment opportunities afforded to students. Yaniv Halperin is IT Network Manager and he, along with two technicians, is responsible for looking after the IT requirements of around 330 staff and 1334 students.
Introducing Stone Group
“When I started in this role in 2013, the school was working with an external IT provider that in my opinion was not offering the level of service I wanted,” said Yaniv. “It was a painful and laborious process to get information, I had to speak to several different people, was put on hold for an unacceptable amount of time and when I did get through to the right person, I often had to wait days for them to send me what I wanted, or, I had to chase them up.”
Having experienced working with Stone Group in his previous school, Yaniv was keen to introduce Stone to JCoSS to ensure improved IT support and customer service. “It was quite a culture shock to see just how poor the existing service provider was,” said Yaniv. “I had only worked with Stone before and assumed other companies provided the same customer care – they don’t. When we were due to order some new staff laptops, I convinced the Finance Manager to try Stone.”
Stone has supported the education sector for over thirty years, and provides a wide range of services – including consistent, reliable devices that deliver high quality to schools like JCoSS. In addition, Stone ensures that school IT landscapes are built to withstand the daily demands of an educational environment, and Stone also introduces schools like JCoSS to other specialist providers.
The first purchase Yaniv made with Stone was for 30 new Stonebook laptops and he was pleased to see that the process was as easy and smooth as he remembered from his previous job. “All I had to do was pick up the phone to speak to my dedicated Account Manager and explain to her what we needed”, said Yaniv.
“We talked about the spec I wanted, the budget I had, the warranty I required and when I needed from new machines. There was no faffing about filling in forms and waiting for a response, everything was sorted in one call. On this occasion I wanted a Samsung hard drive and although Stone did not supply that drive, they were happy to source it. Typical of a company that always goes the extra mile.”
A 10-year partnership
In the ten years that Yaniv has been at JCoSS he has used Stone to provide around 1000 Stonebook Pro laptops and StonePC Lite desktops. Yaniv appreciates the consistency between devices, which means that imaging remains the same – so deployment is faster and easier. His devices are configured to his requirements, too, and the pricing offers superb value for money.
Yaniv said: “Stone’s 5-year warranty is also very welcome. There is never any quibble or delay if something goes wrong. I get a part within 24 hours, or if necessary, an engineer comes on site.”
Stone’s engineers impress, too. They know the school’s IT team and the school itself, so Yaniv can let them get on with the job. “We tend to get the same people who come into school, allowing us to build a relationship,” Yaniv adds. “They always drop us a message to say they’re on the way, and they’re always on time. Stone engineers are DBS-checked which is another bonus of working with Stone.”
Stone prides itself on its value for money and cost effectiveness and when JCoSS tender for their hardware Stone is always the most competitive. “It’s great that Stone provides such value for money, but we will also factor in the service I know they provide to our school,” said Yaniv.
Deployment is a team effort, too. Yaniv and his team image their laptops, but Stone customises the hardware with laser-etching, including the school’s name and charging trolley location. “Our pupils tend to peel off stickers and having these details etched onto the lid saves us having to match the right laptop to the right trolley at the end of a session,” said Yaniv. “We were invited to see Stone’s HQ to see their impressive operation for ourselves, including the etching process.”
Stone has provided itself to be an invaluable IT partner to Yaniv, his team and the JCoSS school community. Yaniv adds: “I would say 99% of our hardware has come from Stone over the last ten years and throughout that time I have always received exceptional service. We have a genuine relationship where nothing is too much trouble, and they make everything easy.”
Trusting Stone recommendations
As well as providing its own hardware, Stone has proved to be an invaluable partner in finding alternative third-party solutions. Yaniv said: “When I wanted a more up-to-date backup solution for the school, the first person I approached for advice was my Account Manager to ask if she could help or, if she could recommend the most appropriate solution.”
As a leading provider of IT, Stone prides itself on taking ownership of every step of its customers’ technological journey. Having been established since 1991 it has developed excellent oversight of the sector, developing strong networks and connections along the way.
“Having worked with us for so many years, Stone probably know as much about the school as I do,” said Yaniv. “They appreciate our budget constraints, understand our school environment and have great insight of the tech I wanted in order to successfully move the school’s data backup to the cloud.”
Yaniv is hugely busy, so he was delighted that Stone could take the strain when it came to sourcing a new solution. And while Yaniv considered several options, Stone introduced him to a new contender – Barracuda.
“Researching providers and then trying to arrange demos is time-consuming and I didn’t have the time to consider the pros and cons of every provider,” said Yaniv. “However, Stone did all the hard work for me and arranged useful demos and worked with me to answer every question that arose – including ones I hadn’t considered. They also saved me time because they were happy to negotiate quotes and warranties.”
As a true partner Stone Group was keen to support Yaniv in managing the entire process and making sure the school backup is future proofed in terms of getting the best spec and thinking about what the school’s requirements would be a few years down the line. The way in which Stone Group considered the commercial aspects of the purchase was a key area that Yaniv found particularly helpful.
Yaniv adds: “Stone secured the best price and warranty for us and although installation was simple, I did have a few queries. Stone liaised with Barracuda on my behalf, and I got the answers I needed within hours – professionalism and service literally from beginning to end of the project.
“I trusted Stone implicitly and the team were good at putting everything on the table so there were no surprises. It meant I could report to my Head that we had secured the best solution at the best cost.”
The new backup solution has been up and running for just under a year and provides a combination of local and offsite storage for fast and secure restore times and disaster recovery and Yaniv is delighted with Stone’s recommended solution.
“I really didn’t expect anything less from Stone,” he said. “I have never regretted anything they have advised or recommended in all the years we’ve worked together.
“This particular solution has been purchased on an annual review and renewal basis and before we sign up again for next year, I will be talking to by Stone Account Manager to confirm this is still the best solution for the school.”
Having a dedicated account manager is fantastic as they want to develop a genuine relationship. I love the fact that Stone come back to you right away – I never have to chase. Stone is a true partner in every sense of the word – it’s reassuring to have them on board.