TruStack raises enough money to help dozens of parents keep in touch with poorly babies during the pandemic

TruStack has raised enough money to enable dozens of parents to keep in virtual contact with their poorly babies on a Newcastle hospital ward – despite all of its fundraising events being cancelled by Covid-19.

In 2019, IT Managed Services business TruStack vowed to its charity of the year, the Tiny Lives Trust, that it would raise enough money to help fund its vCreate service.

vCreate allows parents and families to receive real-time, video updates on their premature and poorly babies at the Neonatal Unit at the RVI Hospital.

Little did TruStack know that the service would prove even more vital after its pledge, with restrictions meaning much more contact between families and their little loved ones was carried out virtually.

However, restrictions also meant that TruStack had to cancel its fundraising events for Tiny Lives, which included a family fun day and sponsored walk in 2020.

But thanks to some inventive virtual fundraising events and ideas, the Cramlington-based business still brought in a staggering £7,200 – enough money to have funded Tiny Lives’ use of the service during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rachel Hardwick, Funding and Partnerships Officer at Tiny Lives, said: “Being able to see videos from the ward of their little ones has been absolutely vital for parents who have been isolating, and when there have been restrictions on visiting.

“It has always been an important service, but it has really come into its own during the pandemic.

“TruStack has been absolutely phenomenal in its support of our charity. The company has managed to continue fundraising in such inventive ways to keep up its pledge, and we are so grateful.

“It would have been easy for them to say ‘sorry, we have our own stuff going on, we’ll see you when the pandemic is over’, but they didn’t. They went above and beyond to make sure they could keep raising money for us.”

Tiny Lives has supported 371 families over the past three years, sending 1,123 videos and 2,651 photos in that time. It has also supplied iPads and accessories to the Unit.

One mum, Clare, said of the vCreate service: “The first time I saw my baby open his eyes was through a photo that was sent to me via vCreate and I will treasure this forever. Having that facility on the unit is invaluable for parents.”

The partnership between TruStack and Tiny Lives came about after the charity helped two of the company’s directors through difficult times.

Both Paul Watson and Russell Henderson were supported by the charity, and the pair have been wanting to pay it back ever since.

Paul’s daughter Niamh, now 20, spent over a month in the Neonatal Unit when she was born five weeks prematurely, weighing just 3lbs.

Dad-of-two Paul said: “Having a baby is stressful enough but when unexpected events happen and your new-born needs medical assistance it is terrifying. 

“When my daughter was born prematurely, Tiny Lives provided first-class care for the first few weeks of her life.  The staff could not do enough to help my daughter as well as myself and my wife. 

“We feel very grateful for the care they provided many years ago and very much wanted to give something back. 

“As an IT company, the vCreate system seemed like a natural choice; using technology to help families keep in touch and see their babies when they may not be able to physically get to the ward during potentially difficult times.”

Russell’s son Mattie, now 12, spent around seven weeks in the RVI when he was born.

Russell said: “The service offered to us at the time by Tiny Lives when my son was in SCBU helped take a part of the stress out of the situation, and when babies have major complications, any help in reducing the stress is welcome. 

“I know what it is like to spend long periods of time in hospital with a poorly baby.  For those parents who live a long distance from the hospital and their child is in hospital for a long period of time, this service is invaluable.  We are proud to be able to support Tiny Lives “

TruStack has enabled hundreds of businesses to implement ‘Hybrid Working’ over the past 18 months, so employees are able to work from any location, not just the office.

It has also carried out many digital transformation projects over the last two years for leading North East businesses such as Sintons LLP, Ryder Architecture, Montane, and Vantec to name but a few.

Meanwhile, it has continued its long association with several of the North East’s Top 200 companies – including Muckle LLP and Collingwood Business Solutions – as well as big names across the UK such as the Premier League and Vertu Motors.

TruStack has its head office at Northumberland Business Park, Cramlington, and a branch office at the Evolve Business Centre, Houghton le Spring.

For more information on TruStack go to or call 0191 250 3000.

In Conversation With… TruStack & VMware

Five reasons to source VDI through TruStack & VMware

There have been a few false starts over the years with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), but over the last 18 months, the use case for VDI has become much stronger.

The technology itself has come on leaps and bounds compared to the days when agile working was feasible for just a small subset of office-based, application-based workers. So, why should you consider investing in VDI now and why should you work with TruStack and VMware to implement it?

  1. There are far more workloads and use cases we can address now with VDI. In the past, high end graphics workloads, voice calling, and video conferencing were a struggle. But with the advent of NVIDIA graphics cards, better profile management and protocol optimisation it’s now possible to put almost any workload on a virtual desktop and provide a near office-based experience to the end user. All the features and integrations you would expect are there, and there are far fewer restrictions.
  2. Agility within a business isn’t just about being able to work remotely: it’s about being able to move quickly to new markets, recruit from new locations, change your software layers almost overnight, and bring in new ways of working. If you’re allowing people to work the hours that suit them, from wherever they are, you need a conversation not only about VDI, but about mobile workspaces – working from a phone or tablet. There are questions about security that you need to consider before you even think about on-prem versus cloud.
  3. The value an experienced MSP like TruStack brings is the ability to tie all components together. We define your solution holistically, from initial consultation and proof of concept to ongoing support and management. We’re technically led, so our technical director assesses which products in a vendors’ stack are suitable and we test them internally before bringing them to market. We can even spin up a Horizon VDI environment in a couple of days so you can get hands on with it before committing.
  4. Being able to control, manage and maintain your desktops from a centralised location takes many of the pain points of IT admin away. We talk about user experience, but your IT department’s experience is important too. A move to VDI brings most of their day-to-day challenges within easy reach in the data centre. VMware have also added Horizon Assist, so IT support can easily connect to anyone’s desktop session. Some organisations are even using this as an onboarding tool for new remote starters.
  5. Every managed service provider will claim to be different, but it’s true that TruStack have been involved in the delivery of VMware’s Horizon-based solutions for many years and been shortlisted for several awards over that time. Over 13 years we’ve developed a strong working relationship with VMware as a vendor that brings tangible benefits to you as the end customer.

Watch TruStack in conversation with VMware here for further insights here.

For more information about our agile working and VDI solutions, get in touch here.

In Conversation With … TruStack & VMware

Can agile working and VDI work for you?

We recently talked in our ‘In Conversation With…’ series about the changes we’ve seen in the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) marketplace over the last decade, and how TruStack – in partnership with VMware – can make sure agile and hybrid working works for your business. This post covers some of the highlights, but make sure to check out the video for more insights.

VDI advances

When VDI first emerged, there was an expectation it would be the same kind of panacea for desktops that virtualisation had been for servers. Of course, reality turned out to be more complicated. However, since March 2020, the use case for VDI has gained momentum. Covid-19 acted as a global proof of concept of the benefits of VDI and virtualised applications, and the technology itself has evolved massively.

Just a few years ago, high memory, high CPU usage workloads like Petrel and CATIA did not typically work well in a virtualised environment. But close partnerships between VMware and the likes of NVIDIA mean almost any workload can now go onto a virtual desktop and provide a close to office-like user experience. There’s also been a big push to provide support for voice and video calling. Agile working with VDI is no longer for just a small subset of office-based, application-based workers.

Workplaces adapt

Now, more companies are embracing remote working and remote recruiting, allowing employees to travel more and work the hours that suit them, so long as they are productive. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and certainly, Covid-19 meant a lot of VDI projects progressed much more quickly than they would otherwise.

Our implementation of Beyond Housing’s VMware VDI solution was already well underway in late 2019. The organisation wanted to manage its desktops more centrally. As always, we first consulted to ensure the technology was a good fit before performing a proof of concept. The solution was deployed by April 2020, so Beyond Housing were able to make good use of their investment when they really needed it – as the pandemic hit. We also provide an ongoing proactive support contract to prevent issues before they arise.

Read more about our work with Beyond Housing.

Could it work for you?

It’s not a case of one-size-fits every organisation. Every deployment is different. But one of the real advantages VDI brings is the ease of management. For example, VMware has now added Horizon Assist to their solution, which means your support team can connect to any desktop session and work as if they’re standing alongside a remote user to fix a problem.

Technology advancements in VDI are about making life easier for the IT staff running the environment, making businesses more agile and productive, and making sure user experience is at least as good as in their best environment. With the help of VMware Horizon, TruStack is seeing more people get that all-round experience.

Watch TruStack in conversation with VMware here.

To find out how VDI could work for you, get in touch here.

Case Study | Karbon Homes

Read our latest case study with Karbon Homes by downloading the PDF below.

Karbon Homes build, manage and look after affordable homes for people across the North. It gives them the strong foundations they need to crack on with life.

Since 2017, Karbon Homes has focused on delivering on three strategic aims – to provide as many good quality homes as it can, to deliver excellent service to customers and to shape strong, sustainable places for communities. The Karbon Homes footprint covers the North East of England and Yorkshire, with almost 30,000 homes across diverse communities, all facing different opportunities and challenges.

Karbon Homes always make the effort to understand its customers. Some customers just need an affordable home, or a way onto the property ladder. Others might need more – financial advice, community services, sheltered accommodation or even training that can lead to a new job.

Whatever people need to feel more secure, confident and happy with where they’re at, Karbon Homes work its heart out to provide it

Case Study | Beyond Housing

Read our latest Beyond Housing by downloading the PDF below.

Established in 2018, Beyond Housing is one of the largest registered housing providers in the North East and North Yorkshire. With its regional offices in Redcar and Scarborough, the organisation is responsible for the letting, management and maintenance of over 15,000 homes and a wide range of services to over 30,000 customers across the North East and North Yorkshire.

Beyond Housing is committed to going beyond the bricks and mortar to help its communities and region thrive. By providing quality homes people want to live in alongside valuable additional services delivered by passionate people who want to help, Beyond Housing contributes to the prosperity, wider regeneration and sustainability of its communities, creating neighbourhoods that will flourish well into the future.

Two-Stack: Forward-thinking IT company TruStack celebrates second anniversary

Flexibility has been the key to IT Managed Services provider TruStack making a success of its first two years in business, according to one of its Directors.

The Cramlington-based company, which specialises in delivering IT managed services, celebrates its second anniversary in September 2021 having spent the vast majority of the past two years operating in a Covid-impacted economy.

Formed following the merger of three companies – SITS Group, PCI Services, and Pivotal Networks – in 2019, within 6 months TruStack was battling against the impact of Covid-19.

Despite the challenges it has faced, the company has not only survived but grown – increasing its workforce by 25 percent from 43 to 55, with another six posts set to be filled in the next few months, including three apprentice positions.

Meanwhile, growth in its active client base to around 450 has meant an annual turnover of more than £10m is expected this year, exceeding all expectations.

Commercial Director Phil Cambers said: “Flexibility has been one of the key elements to our success, no doubt about it.
“We are very market-orientated. If we see changes coming we adapt as quickly as possible. That is why we underwent a merger two years ago – we had three businesses that were great at what they did but were missing something that the others could provide.

“Equally when Covid-19 hit we adapted the way we needed to work and made sure our clients were able to adapt as well.

“Ultimately our success is down to our incredible staff – their response to all the changes we have seen in working practices over the past year, like working from home, has been absolutely incredible.”

Mr Cambers added: “As IT infrastructure and security specialists we also need to adapt quickly to changing technologies, and that is another reason why we have grown so quickly.

“We look at the new technologies on the horizon – whether that’s in security, cloud storage, computer hardware, or other areas – and make sure we are bringing the best products and services to our customers to keep their infrastructure up-to-date and working to its full potential.

“If we keep doing what we have been doing for the past two years – adapting to the changing world around us and keeping a step ahead in terms of technology – I am sure we can continue to expand even more.”

TruStack has enabled hundreds of businesses to implement ‘Hybrid Working’ over the past 18 months, so employees are able to work from any location, not just the office.

It has also carried out many digital transformation projects over the last two years for leading North East businesses such as Sintons LLP, Ryder Architecture, Montane, and Vantec to name but a few.

Meanwhile, it has continued its long association with several of the North East’s Top 200 companies – including Muckle LLP and Collingwood Business Solutions – as well as big names across the UK such as the Premier League and Vertu Motors.

Moving forward, however, Mr Cambers and his co-Directors are keen to grow the company’s ‘Managed Services’ clientele – businesses that hand over the running of their entire IT infrastructure to TruStack.

Mr Cambers added: “That is what we want to be doing much more of in the next two to five years – taking ownership of a businesses’ IT demands, meaning they can focus more on the day-to-day running of their business.

“There is a huge shortage of skills in the IT market at the moment. For a customer to find someone to run their IT department is quite difficult and that’s where TruStack comes in to take that headache away.

“Rather than employing someone, the business will come to us to provide that expertise. Businesses are starting to realise they don’t need to employ as many IT people in-house, but can outsource the skills they need.”

One client which has enlisted the services of TruStack this year is Faulkner Browns LLP. The company’s Partner Steve McIntyre said: “After a long relationship with Trustack spanning over 12 years, we decided to outsource our IT to them following the retirement of one of our staff members.

“We have a workforce of 120 people and, being an architects practice, IT is very much at the centre of our business. The transition to using more of TruStack’s services has been smooth and we feel we made the right decision, rather than immediately trying to replace heads internally.”

Despite the pandemic, TruStack has also managed to raise around £5,000 for its charity partner Tiny Lives, which supports premature and poorly babies and their families at the Neo-Natal Unit at the RVI Hospital, Newcastle.
Innovative, ‘socially-distanced’ fundraising ideas have included games evenings, seed planting, and online webinar events.

A spokesman for the charity, Fundraising and Partnerships Manager, Rachel Hardwick said: “TruStack’s creativity and dedication to continue to raise vital funds for Tiny Lives throughout the pandemic has been inspiring.

“This huge amount of money will make a real difference to the babies and families who have spent time on the Neonatal Unit at Newcastle’s RVI. We cannot thank the team at TruStack enough and we are looking forward to continuing this wonderful partnership.”

TruStack has its head office at Northumberland Business Park, Cramlington, and a branch office at the Evolve Business Centre, Houghton le Spring.

For more information on TruStack you can contact us here or call 0191 250 3000.

The 2025 PSTN and ISDN Switch Off – Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about the PSTN and ISDN switch off

So, the PSTN and ISDN switch off is happening, below we answer your frequently asked questions on the subject.

What do we know so far?

In 2025 BT are switching off their Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) services. This change will affect all residential and business customers and aligns with the Government’s promise to see 15 million premises connected to fibre by 2025. 

For businesses, your phone services will be affected as well as other services that run on your phone lines using the PSTN network. These services include PDQ machines, fire alarm notifications, emergency phones in lifts and burglar alarm monitoring to name a few.

Q: How can I be prepared for the 2025 PSTN Switch off?

A: Ensuring that your current telephony system can support SIP Trunking or opt for a Hosted Telephony Service.

Q: Will I be able to have a fast broadband connection at home?

A: Yes, however, you will have to upgrade to either FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) or to SoGEA (Single order Generic Ethernet Access).  With SoGEA you only get a broadband data service and no telephone line. Therefore, for telephone service, you will have to have a connection to a hosted phone system, or an IP based phone system.

Q: What is the benefit of SoGEA?

A: Depending on location, SoGEA can provide downloads of up to 80Mbs using the current FTTC technology.

Q: After the 2025 PSTN Switch off can I still use my existing telephony equipment such as fax, DECT phone etc at home?

A: Yes, with a hosted phone system and ATA adapter. Connecting these traditional analogue devices to a SIP to Analogue convertor (ATA), will enable them to register on the hosted phone system.

Q: What happens if I haven’t migrated to SIP in December 2025?

A: Any business or consumer who hasn’t migrated to an alternative telephony service will be left without service.

Q: What happens in 2023?

A: In September 2023 Openreach will no longer supply single PSTN lines, ISDN2, ISDN30 or add additional channels to existing services. For more information on the switch off, please join us on our hosted telephony Lunch and Learn where we can answer any of your queries.

Lunch and Learn Registration

5 Things You Didn’t Know About the PSTN and ISDN Switch Off

Things you didnt know about the PSTN and ISDN switch off

In 2025, British Telecom (BT) will permanently switch off analogue phone lines. This may seem some time away, something to worry about later, but businesses must understand the implications of the change and how to prepare for it in good time. Which services are being switched off? What will it mean for your business, and what are the alternatives? There are also some points which you may not know about the switch off which may surprise you!

BT has announced its plans to switch off all public switched telephone network (PSTN) services by 2025. The PTSN consists of the telephone lines, ISDN Lines, and other hardware required to allow traditional analogue telephones to work.

The final switch-off is scheduled for 2025, but BT is phasing out ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) and PSTN from 2020 when it will stop allowing businesses to acquire these services.

So here are a few points which you may not have thought about, that aren’t just about phones!

  • Redcare/Alarm lines that are on analogue PSTN lines will be affected
  • Emergency Phones in lifts that are connected to analogue PSTN lines will be affected
  • Domestic analogue telephone lines will be affected
  • PDQ Machines that are connected to PSTN Lines will be affected
  • Broadband Connections such as ADSL and FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) will be affected

So, if you do have any of these other services, you will also need to think about how these will be managed and moved ahead of the switch-off.

You can find out more by attending our Lunch and Learn on the 19th August 2021 at 12:30pm. Register by clicking the link below.

Lunch and Learn Registration

5 Things You Should Consider When Moving to a Cloud Telephony System

What You Should Be Considering When Moving to a Cloud Telephony System.

As technology evolves at an incredible pace, businesses need to evaluate their processes and weigh up their priorities, including their telephony systems and unified communications strategy.
Cloud telephony has future-proofed communication strategies by replacing physical systems with a more manageable and cost-effective alternative online. A flexible platform like this makes perfect sense in the modern business landscape, but if you’re thinking of making the switch, there are still some key things to consider.

1.No Telephony switch/control equipment (hardware or virtual) is required at your premises

With a cloud telephony system, there is no need to have physical phones or equipment. However, you should think about those staff member that might like or want a desk phone as these will normally come at an extra cost to your softphone.

2. Moves, adds, and changes completed quickly

Unlike a traditional phone system, you can normally make any changes at the click of a button, or by talking to your managed services provider. Any additions to the workforce can be quickly and easily added. Likewise, any removals can be just as easy.

3. Hosted telephony is scalable

As mentioned in point 2, there is no limit to the number of users that you can have on a hosted telephony platform. Physical ISDN/PSTN lines or having capacity with your physical PBX, no longer determines how many users and concurrent calls you can have.  Your maximum number of concurrent calls is now only restricted by your Internet connectivity.

4. Users can work from the office, their home, or at any location where they have Internet connectivity

There is no longer a need to be tied to a physical office; all calls can be made and received using an App on their laptop, smartphone, tablet, or simply from a web browser. Users can make a call from anywhere in the world while displaying the office number, still benefiting from live analytics, reporting, and call recording, if relevant.

If integrating with Microsoft Teams, it is as easy as downloading the app to a device to get started.

5. The call quality is dependent on your Internet connection

You can only benefit from the freedoms of cloud telephony once the right infrastructure is in place. A reliable Internet connection is essential to making sure everything runs smoothly.  Most new Internet lines use fibre-optic today and this is recommended for anyone who wants the best call quality.

It is important that your Internet connection has appropriate spare bandwidth available, has low latency, and is error-free with zero packet loss.  Whilst these requirements may sound technical, your managed services provider will be able to help you validate the suitability of your connection.

Lunch and Learn Registration

The BT Openreach 2025 PSTN and ISDN Switch Off – What is it?

The ISDN Switch Off – What’s Happening?

In 2025 BT is switching off their Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) services. This change will affect all residential and business customers and aligns with the Government’s promise to see 15 million premises connected to fibre by 2025. 

For businesses, it will not only mean that your phone services are affected but also services that run on your phone lines using the PSTN network. This will include services such as EPOS machines, alarm monitoring services, fire monitoring services, and lift emergency phones.

It is not only in the UK that the migration to digital is taking place. As technology evolves, phone companies around the world are adapting. The switch-off is already underway in countries like Germany, Japan, and Sweden, with Estonia and the Netherlands already having completely switched off their networks. 

Why is it happening?

Technology has evolved significantly and quite simply the PSTN network has become outdated and costly to maintain.

What are the alternatives?

Of course, the retiring of the telephone network as we know it would not be happening if there was no new technology to replace it. Over the last several years, telephone systems have been developed to use IP.  This allows telephone systems to use standard Internet connections.  Along with this new technology are many new terms and technologies including:

VoIP: stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and allows you to make and receive phone calls over the Internet. 

SIP: stands for Session Initiation Protocol and rather than just sending voice data like the VoIP phone system, SIP will send and receive any multimedia data such as video calls.

4G & 5G: With the development of 4G and 5G networks across the UK, another alternative is to use your mobile phone as your main point of contact rather than having a traditional landline.

What are the benefits?

Moving to this newer technology offers the same benefits as we see now and some new ones, including:

  • Lower costs
  • Mobility – greater choice of telephone hardware.  You can continue to use a telephone handset as well as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, PCs and Macs.
  • Scalability – telephone systems can easily scale along with your requirements.  Whether it is simply an additional user, or a brand-new office location.  At its simplest form, you simply require Internet connectivity
  • Call statistics more easily accessible
  • Changes can be implemented quicker e.g. call routing and diverts

When do I need to act?

Many businesses have already adopted a digital model, moving their communications to the cloud, making calls over the internet and embracing video conferencing. If you have the supporting infrastructure, then there is no reason why an educated and planned migration to digital lines cannot be considered now.

It is important to start to think about your move sooner rather than later as there could be a lot to plan for and resources to do this will become limited nearer the deadline date. For more information on TruStack’s hosted telephony system, TruStack Voice and TruStack Unified Communications, why not join our Lunch and Learn on Thursday 19th August 2021.

Lunch and Learn Registration