“Microsoft cloud technologies have enabled us to move forward much quicker than planned and jump to new technology which we couldn’t have afforded before.”
Addington House is a stately home attracting over 100,000 visitors each year and hosts many events. The home receives no subsidies, charges no entrance fees and has to be entirely self-sufficient through visitor donations and the support of a volunteer group. Richard Francis, Finance Director, has been implementing a plan to modernise and extend the IT environment with the very latest cutting-edge technology.
The IT infrastructure, based on Microsoft Small Business Server 2003, Windows Server 2003, old versions of Microsoft Office and Windows XP machines, was nearing end of life and unable to support the organisation’s strategic direction. The employees were limited by slow machines and the challenge of working with different versions of software. Richard also had mounting fears about the security, resilience and management costs of the environment with ‘end of support’ scheduled for Windows Server 2003 in July 2015.
Addington House didn’t have the luxury of rolling out a single all-encompassing IT refresh programme. Budget constraints meant that upgrades to the environment had to be taken in small, gradual phases but without causing further disruption.
"Our IT was pretty much ‘tied up with string’. We needed a more robust approach that could bring us up-to-date with everyone working from the same versions. But with limited budget and accountability to donors, we had to find a way to achieve that in a nice gradual approach."
Microsoft partner, Bleckfield, conducted a strategic IT review and surprised Richard with a different approach to reduce cost, maximise resources and still provide the team with the most advanced IT tools available. Fast forward 2 years and they now operates in the cloud with Office 365 for email and productivity applications and Windows Server 2012 R2 for file storage. Everyone has modern Windows 7 computers and Bleckfield provides a comprehensive support service for desktops, devices, network and servers which includes remote maintenance and helpdesk services.
For the first time, the staff are able to access their information from anywhere with secure, reliable cloud connectivity. Office 365 provides everyone with a generous email service and all the familiar Office applications like Word and Excel, whilst Lync has introduced new ways of keeping in touch and speeding up communication through instant messaging and presence features. Windows Server 2012 R2 underpins the environment with robust server capability and consistent information access for the users. Microsoft Intune completes the platform for cloud-based systems management.
"Getting everyone on a reliable platform has been key to improving staff efficiency and morale and being able to work from home has made a big difference. It’s very comforting to know we’ll automatically get upgrades that will keep us at the forefront too."
Windows Server 2012 R2 and Office 365 combine to provide a secure cloud-based platform which is robust and flexible to accommodate their unique needs
Remote systems access to Windows Server ensures that it can be immediately responsive to any arising issues or early warning signals from any location
Windows Server and Microsoft Intune provide powerful, up-to-the-minute status updates with easily digestible management information in dashboard views
Support and management services from IT partner, Bleckfield, provides additional security through regular patching and remote assistance without need for in-house resources
Guaranteed future upgrades ensure they will continue to work with the latest technologies without additional financial outlay or business disruption
With full systems access from any location, staff are now able to effectively work from home supporting individual working styles and a family-friendly approach
As Office 365 is accessible across all operating systems, staff and management can continue to use their own tablets, home machines and portable devices with unhindered functionality
With the team split across 3 onsite offices, Office 365 features like Presence and Shared Calendars help them to quickly see who is available and save time when booking meetings or trying to get quick answers
Unrestricted email storage has enabled everyone to choose their own policy for email management and fully supports teams, like Marketing, who work with large files and experience high email volumes
The new IT environment provides the them with a robust, scalable platform to sustain and accelerate ongoing team and activity growth
The flexible ‘per user, per month’ payment model gives them complete control over how quickly they grow and how much they invest, with the potential to scale at ease.
Without the need for large upfront investment, they have been able to adopt new technologies faster than they would have previously been able to which directly impacts growth
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