03rd December 2018
Migrating to Microsoft's Office 365
Back in 2014, Sovereign Business Integration Group was delighted to be awarded a 5-year contract to manage the IT services of Red Kite Community Housing, based in High Wycombe.
As the partnership began in December 2014, Sovereign worked with the incumbent IT supplier to transition the service. The first step towards greater IT efficiency was upgrading software on PCs and laptops no longer supported by Microsoft. This included 120 office-based laptops, as well as 20 contact centre desktops.
The Sovereign team worked hard to ensure minimal disruption to the staff using laptops and phased desktop upgrades, to ensure that no customers calling the contact centre would notice a reduction in customer service levels. The upgrade was completed three days before the planned end date, leaving the Red Kite team pleased at how smoothly the project had gone. It was the start of a partnership that has since evolved.
Best foot forward - adopting innovative digital technologies
Over the years, Sovereign has provided additional services to Red Kite, serving its appetite to adopt innovative digital technologies, to help it achieve greater efficiencies. Part of this has seen it take advantage of ‘as a service’ cloud offerings, including Back up as a Service (BaaS) and Firewall as a Service (FaaS), as well as the use of Sovereign’s data centre and the provision of on-site and remote support.
Forging ahead, building new homes
Red Kite, which already owns and manages 6,700 properties, is committed to developing 375 new homes, but aspires to deliver 500 by 2021.
This Registered Provider (RP) wants to cater for different levels of affordability, including homes for market rent and homes for shared ownership. It means making sure the business’ overheads are as lean as possible and delivering an efficient IT infrastructure is part of this. Accessing more digital technologies enables the Housing Association to be more efficient by enabling staff to support customer needs anywhere, anytime, with minimal disruption.
Using digital to support business needs
Sovereign has been key to supporting the various stages of Red Kite’s digital journey, to date. One of the most significant projects was the migration of Red Kite’s employees to Microsoft’s Office 365 (O365). The RP had opted to be a Microsoft early adopter and was able to capitalise on this opportunity with the help of Sovereign.
Richard Hawkins, Technology Manager, Red Kite says:
“To keep improving IT support for the business, we need to make it as simple to use and as flexible as possible for everyone. Office 365 will enable us to access the documents we need, irrespective of where people are based. This is a great help for staff who are ‘in the field’ working with our customers.”
A hybrid solution - getting the best of both worlds
In order to ensure Red Kite achieved the optimal business benefit from the move to O365, Sovereign recommended an O365-hybrid solution. Essentially this is a mix of delivering the technology via a public cloud whilst keeping some elements on-premise. There are a number of applications that did not function in the O365 cloud. Systems that would not migrate or required a great deal of bandwidth were therefore hosted locally.
There are a number of benefits that have already been realised from the move. Richard Hawkins highlights:
“Office 365 works on a pay as you go model. As our organisation grows, we can simply pay for additional services and data storage as and when we need to. O365 has given Red Kite access to a huge amount of additional storage. The immediate cost benefit comes in two forms, firstly, we do not need to buy additional local storage and secondly, we do not need resource to spend time maintaining this local storage.”
As mentioned previously, the benefits to mobile working are huge. Accessing company data is possible from mobile phones, tablets and laptops ‘on the go’. A high number of Red Kite staff work closely within the community, supporting their customers. These teams can access data, in a way that is convenient and effective. It certainly helps to speed up the process of delivering services. In addition, all of the data is backed up securely and comprehensively.
With the enforcement of GDPR, Red Kite can rest assured that the data protection and back up offered with this service means data will not be lost and that it complies with the regulations.