Ageing housing association IT infrastructure rejuvenated through the cloud

Rosebery Housing Association is a not-for-profit organisation, providing homes to over 2,700 residents. The company has a successful track record in working closely with residents to ensure that they feel proud of their homes and neighbourhoods.

Among its business objectives are excellence in customer care, developing clear and concise communications, and investing in employees to help them achieve their potential. The advancement of technology has meant that today, IT systems play a significant role in each of these goals. But with an ageing infrastructure that was over 7 years old, Rosebery’s IT team was faced with a number of challenges.

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Christopher Thorpe, head of IT, at Rosebery Housing Association explained, “Our equipment was past its end of life, with spiralling support costs and required replacement. Our servers and storage were reaching maximum capacity and with no room for future expansion, our employees were unable to carry out their daily functions effectively resulting in a direct impact on their productivity.”

Having an IT infrastructure that was not fit for purpose meant that the organization was vulnerable to hardware and systems failure. As the renewal of support contracts and software licenses had been mismanaged, Rosebery was unable to upgrade any of its software to the latest versions leaving it open to security threats. Faced with these business risks and the inability to adopt new and upcoming technologies, Christopher decided it was time for an infrastructure overhaul.

Searching for the right solution

“My primary objective was to improve user experience and employee productivity. Rosebery needed an IT infrastructure with increased which in turn would reduce the number of calls to the service desk each week. I also saw the upgrade as an opportunity to incorporate new features such as secure access to all applications and data from any device, any location and at any time.”

Weary of recreating earlier challenges, Thorpe was keen to work with a provider that would guarantee full visibility and management of all its vendor support contracts and licensing agreements to ensure the upgraded IT infrastructure would remain compliant. What followed was a thorough evaluation of suppliers and engagement with the executive team, a process taking almost 12 months.

On cloud nine

This vetting process resulted in TheCloud9 being selected and entrusted with the deployment. Thorpe stated that: “I found working with TheCloud9 to be an excellent experience; they were highly professional throughout their approach, demonstrated transparency in regards to the supply chain and identified many requirements that were initially missed by ourselves and other competitors tendering for the project.”

“They began with a software audit to determine current usage and future requirements of our IT systems. This provided a clear indication of how each element of our new environment should be licensed as well as when contracts would be up for renewal, what the renewal process would be and a detailed breakdown of costs,” he explained.

TheCloud9’s consultants designed a mid-level Cloud Pod based on HP rack mount servers and switches and a Nimble smart storage array. To maximise resource utilisation, it was decided to virtualise all system workloads with VMware solutions as the underlying virtualisation layer.

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Citrix XenApp was deployed to create a custom corporate application store that delivered virtual desktops and applications to the end users. “Providing our employees the ability to access corporate data from anywhere, and in a secure manner was another major objective.”

To accomplish this, Citrix NetScaler was deployed for secure remote access to all applications from any location or device. Citrix XenMobile was implemented to manage the mobile devices connecting to the corporate network, allowing Rosebery to enforce policy and control with users bringing their own devices to work.

The entire project was executed in just 5 weeks. Rosebery’s IT team received comprehensive documentation along with a detailed skills and knowledge transfer during the handover process. Commenting on this, Thorpe said, “TheCloud9 worked effortless during the whole procurement and tender process to ensure that all requirements were identified and that every option that was available was highlighted to us. This ensured that we made an educated decision and nothing was overlooked. The last thing I wanted was to have unknown cost popping up partway through the project due to the requirements not being identified or understood.”

Benefits realisation

The positive impact of the deployment was immediately realised as Rosebery gained extra productivity by the introduction of the new remote working element. “Our employees now have 24/7 access to all desktops, data and applications from any device and any location. This has enabled them to develop a better work life balance, knowing that work tasks can now be performed out of normal office hours,” Thorpe said.

Productivity of the IT team has increased as the time taken for provision new servers or an application has been dramatically reduced, allowing Rosebery to deliver its IT Strategy. “The new environment doesn’t require the same level of housekeeping and maintenance which frees up my team to focus on IT project delivery,” he added.

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He was able to quantify a number of benefits saying, “With the new infrastructure, we’ve saved 60% on computer and storage utilization and gained 40 % additional capacity for future growth. All systems are now complaint in terms of licensing agreements and support. Downtime and systems outages have reduced by 50% due to the high availability and resilience of the new infrastructure. The overall number of calls to the service desk has also reduced by 70% per month.”

End user feedback has been highly positive with some describing the environment as being much more responsive compared to the old solution. Users now have a high definition virtual desktop which is similar to what they use at home, giving them a level of comfort and confidence to carry out their day to day tasks.

Looking ahead to a bright future

Summarising Rosebery’s success with the project and the significance of TheCloud9’s efforts, Thorpe said, “Our overall experience with TheCloud9 has been nothing short of excellence, from the initial meeting to discuss they tender opportunity they demonstrated their exceptional knowledge of the technology and its benefits. Their attention to detail during the requirements gathering helped us identify some key areas of software licensing that was initially missed, this proved to be instrumental as all other suppliers had not picked this up and would have resulted in additional spend mid-way through the project. The design and deployment approach clearly demonstrated TheCloud9’s experience in delivering projects of this scale. We are more than happy with the service that TheCloud9 provided us during and after the project and now regard them as an extension to our internal IT team.”


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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