Peoples Associates Structural Engineers (PASE) offers a full range of structural engineering services. PASE tackles highly complex engineering challenges and innovations across a portfolio of projects that include large data centers and mixed-use housing, among others. To meet each client’s unique needs and support its team of skilled designers, structural engineers, and project managers, PASE requires a robust and agile IT infrastructure—one that is highly secure, can evolve over time, and is fully capable of meeting the varying demands of the business.
As admin and IT manager at PASE with a team of six people, Robert Holland is responsible for “everything that isn’t engineering.” That includes basic support services like accounting, payroll, HR, facilities, legal, contracts, vendor relationships, and IT. “My job requires me to wear many hats,” Robert says. “Because of its complexity, IT would typically be the most time-consuming area. But working with Sagacent as our IT partner, I find that I only need to spend a fraction of my day dealing with technology because their services are so good.”
More About PASE
With 85 people at three locations in California plus an office in Croatia, PASE engineers and project managers take on some incredibly demanding and important engineering projects, guiding them from inception and design through completion and ribbon cutting.
And, as PASE engineers deliver across a wide array of challenging projects, they’ve done it “the PASE Way.” This means proactively engaging with customers to understand what their needs are, actively listening to what they have to say, bringing creative solutions to bear on each project, and understanding what other disciplines are doing to coordinate and align efforts.
Partnering with Sagacent
PASE started with Sagacent in December 2017 when they realized that they didn’t have the time or resources to properly manage their on-premises servers. As a complex business that is focused on engineering excellence, PASE clearly needed an enabling, flexible, and secure IT infrastructure. It also needed a partner that could help define future directions and take over day-to-day tasks like monitoring servers, issuing alerts, and helping PASE resolve any IT issues that arose.
When the office in Croatia was opened and PASE needed to bring that team into the fold, they asked Sagacent to set up the servers and security infrastructure, making sure that everything fit neatly into the network.
Managing servers in far-flung locations sounds like a challenge, but “no matter where systems are, if they’re set up properly, Sagacent can manage them just as easily as if they were down the road,” says Ed Correia, founder and CEO of Sagacent.
The Security Imperative
As businesses have become increasingly concerned about their exposure to security breaches and cybercrime, they‘ve “turned to the experts” to help keep their sensitive information safe. With their IT partnership well established and several successful projects behind them, Sagacent and the PASE team moved on to security transformation—an IT element that is now considered to be a critical success factor for the company.
“We have some large clients who require us to adhere to a very high level of security,” Robert says. “They want us to behave like we’re a part of their organization and that brings up a whole range of additional security requirements for us to meet. Sagacent has both broad and deep expertise in this area and they understand best practices, so we asked them to first help us come up with a plan and then make sure we implemented it properly.”
Completing a Security Assessment
As a first step, Sagacent conducted a comprehensive assessment to understand the strengths and weaknesses of PASE’s security framework.
“Our process is simple and straightforward,” Ed Correia says. “We sit down and discuss specific concerns, take a careful look at the existing infrastructure, and share our assessment findings. We advise our customers on what should be fixed and how. Then, once the fixes are in place, Sagacent security engineers can identify what needs to be protected and ensure that it is, regardless of where a threat might be coming from.”
“Security was an education for us,” Robert says. “We knew we had clients who required us to have a high level of security, but what exactly did that mean? And what would it take to meet those requirements?”
“It’s a pleasure to collaborate with a dedicated team that understands your business goals and delivers best-practice strategies with high-value services. You can plan all you want, but you don’t really know how well those plans will work until they’re tested. PASE knows that Sagacent will jump right into the line of fire and do whatever it takes to get them through each new challenge, with a keen focus on its industry and specific business needs.” Robert Holland, IT Manager at PASE
The New Security Plan
Sagacent led PASE through the many different aspects of a detailed security plan, then helped to implement that plan, putting everything together piece by piece.
With Sagacent’s help, PASE started to put its people through extensive training every year, and they also run tests every month that try to trick employees into clicking on a suspect link or opening an attacker’s email. They test spoofing through email and launch voicemail attacks as well. All of this adds to overall awareness and a sense of vigilance across the organization that is designed to keep the firm’s digital assets safe.
Now, when clients audit them for security compliance, Sagacent helps PASE go through all the questions and answer every point that is being challenged.
“We’ve found that the support we get from Sagacent goes much deeper than what’s just on the surface,” Robert says. “Yes, they help us with our servers, PC problems, and security … but this stuff often goes deeper than that and they’ve picked up such knowledge about our business and how we operate, they can help us tackle some of the most complex questions.”
Through its collaborative partnership with Sagacent, “PASE has made a lot of changes, and we’ve learned a ton of things,” Robert says. “In some cases, we’re both learning and growing together because today’s systems are so complex and evolving at such a rapid pace. We challenge Sagacent and they go off to dive into the area that’s worrying us. Then we solve each problem together.”
PASE hasn’t been hacked since Sagacent helped implement a new security framework. Robert used to worry, but he says he doesn’t worry anymore because he knows that, “Sagacent is on the ball, actively monitoring our systems all the time. And the tools they’ve put in place are really effective. I actually have a feeling of calm around our IT, which I didn’t have when I was managing PASE security on my own.”
When Comcast had a recent network-wide fiber failure, PASE already had a plan for disaster recovery in place, but they hadn’t fully tested it because that would have impacted the business. With the Comcast outage, suddenly they had the opportunity to see just how robust their plan actually was.
“I have to give high marks to the Sagacent team,” Robert says. They were on the ball, noticed the outage as soon as it happened, came up with some initial fixes, and then worked with us all day to fill in the missing pieces and bring everyone back online. They did needed reconfigurations so that all of our people in the office could get to the internet, and everyone could move to our backup network system. People working offsite could dial into the network as well. The Sagacent team stayed with it throughout the day until they were sure we were back in business.”
What Comes Next
Robert appreciates Ed’s approach as he’s grown his company and added more very smart and knowledgeable resources to the Sagacent team. PASE is now looking at expanded services as its company grows as well.
“Now it’s time for us to replace our old servers and that’s our next big project with Sagacent,” Robert says. They will be managing that whole transition “as we buy a bunch of servers and come up with a whole new paradigm for our company. IT is so complex, you really have to stay on top of things. And you can’t just go out and hire one IT specialist to handle everything. The environment is too multifaceted, and the landscape is always shifting and reinventing itself. The best strategy is to hire experts who employ more experts who can stay ahead of all the moving parts and stay aligned with your company goals. Sagacent is a great partner for that.”
The Sagacent Story
Sagacent has 23+ years of making IT safer and easier for its clients. It is not only unique because of its expertise and customer relationships, but also because of its stellar track record and team of highly skilled IT professionals. Because IT operations and security need to work together, the Sagacent team combines high levels of IT management and cybersecurity expertise. They thrive on change—always learning and growing to stay ahead of an industry that continually reinvents itself. And they really care about doing right by their customers.