CASE STUDY - London and Continental Railways
By Cloud Direct • 30 Mar 2015
As part of government restructuring, rail-led property development and management company London & Continental Railways (LCR) absorbed the real estate functions of the newly disbanded BRB (Residuary) Ltd.
- Integration of two government bodies
- Office merge to allow for 70 people in Covent Garden office
- Entire business move to cloud IT and VoIP phone systems
- Merge of LCR and BRBR network and phones during the weekend office move
- Company downtime avoided
Budgetary pressures and policy priorities have led to a review of more than 900 public bodies since the government coalition came into power in 2010. Since then, dozens of agencies and quangos have been merged or abolished. The plan remains to cut administrative budgets by a third by 2015. Major reforms are taking place in nearly every department and agency, and cloud-based technology is considered an important route to save money and improve IT and business efficiency.
When the Cabinet Office abolished the BRB (Residuary) Ltd in September 2013, BRBR’s functions were dispersed among a number of successor bodies, including London & Continental Railways Ltd (LCR). Rail properties manager LCR assumed responsibility for former BRBR properties with development potential, or which might be used for future railway projects or office buildings. LCR also acts as the managing agent on behalf of DfT for Waterloo International Terminal, North Pole International Depot and Temple Mills Bus Depot.
The merger of the two companies involved an office move of about 30 LCR people to BRBR’s Covent Garden office. They would also maintain a satellite office in Waterloo Station and some field-based laptop users.
Cloud Direct has been working with LCR since 2011, some time before merger plans were announced. They already provided LCR’s IT disaster recovery, leased line and managed firewall services. In a pitch against BRBR’s IT provider, Cloud Direct came out on top and was appointed in September 2013 to support the merger in terms of integrating the two IT systems and install VoIP.
LCR’s IT Manager John de-Pulford was responsible for integrating LCR’s and BRBR’s disparate IT infrastructures, processes and procedures, and to set up a new phone system in a way that was flexible and future-proof to allow for any changes or flux in capacity - such as additional mergers or sudden big contract wins. They would need to be simple and straightforward. As an added challenge, both LCR and BRBR had more than 10 years’ worth of data and emails, plus legacy applications that had very limited vendor support.
The merger of LCR and BRBR systems would need to happen in conjunction with the office move – all over the course of a single weekend to avoid business downtime.
Choosing the best post-merger IT solution
Initially, LCR considered their two choices of IT solution for the new, flexible business structure. On one hand there was the existing, on-site, traditional serverbased solution. On the other hand, there was the flexible, comprehensive cloud solution – which came with some perceived risk.
De-Pulford said: “Irrespective of the nature of the type of hosting solution chosen by an organisation, it is necessary to consider that the same factors apply to ensuring security, whether the considered solution is cloud-based or located within a traditional in-house IT infrastructure. The key difference in the cloud model is that it includes external elements, and those elements will be managed by a third party. It therefore became vital to sit down with Cloud Direct at an early stage in the tendering process to understand exactly how their hosted environment operated, and to consider how it would impact upon the integrity of existing joint LCR/BRBR security strictures”
Over the course of one single weekend, avoiding company downtime, LCR and Cloud Direct had to merge the two businesses and set up everyone in the Covent Garden office – with all IT changes and the VoIP telephone system deployed.
Cloud Direct’s team orchestrated the cloud migration. They migrated LCR to Office 365 in one weekend, and then to hosted desktop over another weekend. They then did the same for BRBR over four subsequent weekends.
Finally, on the weekend of LCR’s move to BRBR’s Covent Garden office, Cloud Direct successfully merged the two companies’ networks and phones, including a satellite office in Waterloo and some field-based laptop users.
Cloud solutions included:
- Office 365
- Website domain registration
- Connectivity – leased line, broadband, WiFi, managed firewall
- New LAN infrastructure in the London office
- VoIP – 40 handsets across two offices
- Bespoke hosted server and hosted desktop solution
- Data backup
- IT disaster recovery
- Desktop lockdown software
“As long as employees have internet access, they can work from anywhere. This flexibility positively benefits our operations in that small, highly localised regional redevelopment offices can be set up anywhere. New users can be almost instantly connected to the LCR cloud. Of all the advantages conferred by moving to the cloud, employee flexibility is the most important.” ~ John de-Pulford
Robust disaster recovery
All LCR’s data is hosted offsite taking advantage of the enormous resilience, duality and recovery procedures available within a data centre.
Fewer local maintenance tasks
Server maintenance/replacement is now non-existent, affording the IT manager the luxury of focusing on the end-user experience.
Lower capital expenditure (capex)
Being in essence a pay-as-you-go service, the heaviest capex of server hardware replacement and software licensing has now all but disappeared.
Now, all LCR employees – wherever they are – can sync up and work on documents and shared apps simultaneously, and follow colleagues and records to receive critical updates in real time.
“Laptops are highly losable. However, now that LCR’s data is in the cloud rather than retained on the machine, the business remains secure irrespective of whose hands a laptop might fall into.” ~ John de-Pulford
Now that LCR has a robust and comprehensive packaged cloud solution driving their business, they’re in a very flexible position. The business can move quickly and easily, whether they’re required to move office, absorb another public service, or increase and decrease their number of users.
Cloud Direct’s professional services team is accessible to de-Pulford should any new requirements arise. For example, at one point, de-Pulford called on the team to design and implement a cloud solution to support an office space for sub-letting to other government-owned organisations.
De-Pulford said: “It is important to consider the inevitability of problems in any project, no matter how well conceived and planned. It is the mark of a supplier’s integrity as to how those issues are resolved once the relationship has been established with the client.”
LCR continues to evolve in partnership with Cloud Direct.
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