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When Bergmark Guimond Hammarlund Jones Architects (BGHJ Architects) decided to capitalize on today's new 3D design capabilities, the firm may have been ready, but its technology was not.

"We were using a ten-year-old, custom-built server. It couldn't handle the changes in technology...the volume of e-mail, the file sizes...or the software program we wanted to implement - Autodesk Revit - which allows us to design everything in three dimensions," says David Bergmark, senior partner, BGHJ Architects. "The server was at the point where it couldn't even handle our in-house issues."

The firm's IT consultant, according to Mr. Bergmark, was very surprised at the size of the files his office nonchalantly used its server to throw back and forth, often in the range of 300 or 400 MB.

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"Our IT guy analyzed all of the equipment at the office, and the size of the files we deal with, and recommended that we needed a plug-and-play server and a look at the complete system, not just the server; the software and the switches are also a critical part of the system," he says.

After evaluating the solutions available from Canada's main technology companies that are capable of providing this type of equipment, the firm came to the conclusion that Dell was the right fit.

"Dell was designed for a firm exactly like ours. For the size of our office and the equipment that we needed, it was exactly right," says Mr. Bergmark.

BGHJ Architects' work ranges from residential garages to $40-million government projects. "When you're in a small province, you take on everything," he says. "Our company cut its teeth in terms of energy conservation back in the '70s. That is the unifying theme through all our work."

Recently, the firm designed a LEED Platinum building - the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating available - in Charlottetown for the federal government.

BGHJ Architects collaborates with architects and engineers throughout Canada, communicating with them and sharing data-heavy files mostly by e-mail. Despite this, Mr. Bergmark says the six-month-old system operates extremely quickly and efficiently.

"From a cost-effectiveness standpoint, if we continue over the next six months the way we've already been going...we've put an IT consultant out of a job, but we've paid for our server," he says.

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Their new server, a Dell PowerEdge T610, runs Microsoft® Small Business Server 2008 software, an upgrade that was so seamless, the firm's employees and partners barely noticed the changeover from its predecessor.

"The simpler interface is the main thing, allowing our computer tech to walk administrative staff through relatively complex administrative tasks without having to give esoteric commands to type in," says Mr. Bergmark, noting BGHJ used Microsoft® Office. "Also, the tight integration between Microsoft® Office , Microsoft® Exchange Server 2010 and Windows® 7 Professional makes things very easy for us."

The company is also purchasing a number of Dell Precision T7500 workstations, which have 12 GB of RAM, and is phasing them in slowly.

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