VMware: DR and Website Hosting
Following an internal audit of its infrastructure, Skills for Care was keen to see how it could maximise the value from its significant investment in VMware technologies. The charity currently uses VMware vSphere for data centre virtualisation plus VMware vCloud Air for its public cloud platform. It therefore, picked up the phone to Phoenix Software’s VMware specialist, who came to the charity to update them on the latest VMware innovations and to see if, and how, any of these could be applied to Skills for Care.
The consultation with Phoenix soon led to a review of Skills for Care’s current disaster recovery (DR) service, which was provided by a local company that replicated the charity’s servers to an offsite location. While the service had proven to be reliable, it was also very expensive to run and tied Skills for Care into three-year long contracts.
With the DR service approaching the end of its three-year contract, Phoenix informed Skills for Care about VMware’s own disaster recovery solution, VMware vCloud Air Disaster Recovery, a recovery-as-a-service solution directly owned and operated by VMware.
VMware’s solution could offer the same replicated service that Skills for Care already enjoyed but delivered via VMware’s highly-secure and SLA-supported cloud infrastructure. Most crucially of all to Skills for Care, VMware’s solution is priced on a pay-as-you-use model so the charity would be freed from its three-year contract commitment. The price was the icing on the cake for Skills for Care; since it was already invested in VMware vCloud the cost to add VMware Disaster Recovery was considerably lower than its existing solution.
At the same time as leveraging VMware for disaster recovery, Phoenix helped Skills for Care make use of VMware vCloud Air to host its public websites, which deliver critical services to its customers. These include The Social Care Commitment, a Department of Health initiative for improving adult social care standards, Care Improvement Works, a collection of e-learning tools for social carers, and Learn from Others, a resource for carers to learn best practice from their peers.
As part of a cost-cutting initiative, Skills for Care was looking for ways to reduce the costs of these website services, which were currently hosted with an external web hosting company. The charity had no desire to host websites on its own servers, so Phoenix helped the charity to migrate its websites to VMware’s vCloud Air servers, which were cheaper to run and also delivered the guaranteed 99.99% availability that the charity needed for these critical services.
Microsoft SharePoint: Intranet
At the same time as reviewing their VMware implementations, Skills for Care was conscious that its intranet was clunky, poorly-designed and under-used. Put simply, it was not delivering the quality of service to Skills for Care employees that it needed to.
As heavy users of Microsoft software (Office, Exchange, Windows Server etc.), Skills for Care felt that Microsoft SharePoint might be a logical solution to this problem. With no direct experience of using SharePoint internally, however, and having concerns about the ease of implementation, Skills for Care contacted Phoenix for advice. It also wanted to ensure that SharePoint was the right solution for them, so it sought Phoenix’s independent advice on the various intranet options available.
Having first reviewed the market with Skills for Care and determined that SharePoint would be the most cost-effective solution for its needs, Phoenix Software’s SharePoint specialist proposed the best configuration for Skills for Care’s intranet. Given the specialist skills required to install SharePoint effectively, Skills for Care commissioned Phoenix to undertake the entire installation and configuration on its behalf.
“Moving over to SharePoint has also reinvigorated staff interest in the company intranet, by improving usability and engagement considerably. While it is still early days for this project, we are pleased with employee response and usage levels so far, and hope to continue to expand our use of SharePoint in the future.”
Kamran Asif, ICT Infrastructure Manager, Skills for Care