Solent Support Solutions
Nasstar implements cloud-based services to improve performance
Based in Southampton, Hampshire, Solent Support Solutions is a joint venture between two charities - The Rose Road Association and Solent Mind - which offer services to adults and children with physical and mental conditions and disabilities. Its core purpose is to provide Finance, IT and other services to these charities and their subsidiary companies, as well as to other non-profit organisations in Hampshire.
Solent Support Solutions’ IT services were supporting 288 users; 210 within Solent Mind and 78 within The Rose Road Association. Its infrastructure was hosted in a Tier 2 data centre, and Solent Support Solutions had reported concerns surrounding performance and outages. The requirement was for a more reliable and easy-to-manage solution, as well as an enhanced security and backup provision, plus secure remote access for workers outside the core sites. Whilst it felt it was important to have an up-to-date IT environment, as a non-profit organisation Solent Support Solutions was also looking for opportunities to reduce operational expenditure, eliminate the need for infrastructure refreshes and save money on an ongoing basis.
Solent Support Solutions’ IT infrastructure is now in a more robust and secure position that allows for safe remote working, which can not only scale with the organisation’s growth but will provide tangible cost savings ongoing. A large element of this is the addition of Citrix XenApp to support all users; the reduction in time and therefore cost to deploy new applications is significant, as there is no longer a need to go from desktop to desktop or travel from office to office to deploy new software or upgrades.
Dave Watson, IT Manager at Solent Support Solutions, said: “As a non-profit organisation, it’s important to us to be able to deliver reliable services to our users that also offer us good value for money, and we feel that this has been achieved with Nasstar's solution. The tender process was highly competitive, and we felt that Nasstar not only had the expertise to deliver on this project, but that they would listen carefully to our needs and advise on the best solution for us, rather than just “selling” to us.”
Following a successful tender where Nasstar proposed a number of Cloud-based services, Solent Support Solutions’ IT infrastructure was moved to Nasstar's Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform. Built utilising products from the world’s leading technology providers - including Microsoft, Dell EMC, VMware, HP and Cisco - Nasstar's Private Cloud platform offers a robust and secure environment for Solent Support Solutions’ infrastructure. As it negates the need for running, maintaining and replacing on-premise systems, CapEx is also reduced whilst keeping the solution highly scalable. Nasstar's cutting-edge, virtual platform also adheres to ISO9001 and ISO27001 standards and is hosted in Vodafone’s Tier 3 data centres, ensuring optimum security and resilience. In conjunction with IaaS, an additional element of the solution designed for Solent Support Solutions was the implementation of Microsoft Office 365 in order to remove reliance on the existing Colocated Microsoft Exchange server. This would also provide the organisation with a standardised suite of programs across its network, as well as the latest versions of familiar Office programs for its end users.
Due to the sensitive nature of the data stored by the various organisations supported, Solent Support Solutions naturally expressed a requirement for a highly-secure backup and Disaster Recovery solution so that, in the unlikely event of an outage or data loss, the organisation would be able access vital information quickly and easily. Nasstar recommended their Cloud Backup and DR solution, SecureVault - powered by EVault from backup experts Carbonite. A modern alternative to laborious and expensive tape backup, with SecureVault data is de-duplicated to minimise costs. Disaster Recovery technology is also included at no extra charge with the chosen Silver tier of SecureVault Backup, with data replicated to a second data centre for additional protection and to meet any compliance needs Solent Support Solutions might have, both now and in the future.
For the increased performance that Solent Support Solutions required, a robust network connection was needed. To ensure that the bandwidth was not compromised, a Network as a Service (NaaS) solution was deployed for Rose Road, with a private connection directly in and out of the data centre. Built around the Vodafone Network - the UK’s most extensive Tier 1 Business Network – Nasstar's NaaS provision offers maximum reliability, in addition to bypassing the internet to optimise performance. Where available, smaller sites were also upgraded to BT Infinity to ensure a fast and secure connection.
In order to provide both a standard working model across all sites as well as secure access for the remote workers that Solent Support Solutions supplies, Citrix XenApp was recommended as an easy-to-manage, cost-effective Desktop as a Service solution, delivered via Nasstar's Blade as a Service offering to ensure the best possible performance. With Solent Support Solutions providing services to two different charitable organisations based over several sites as well as having users logging on remotely, it was not only necessary to provide easy yet secure access to important files from a variety of locations, but also to be able to roll out necessary program and application updates in a simple manner. Citrix XenApp’s centralised management interface was the perfect way of delivering updates, or alternatively new software can be deployed to the Citrix Farm to be immediately available for all users; essentially updating hundreds of users both locally and remotely in the same time that it would take to roll it out to one or two users. As fewer resources are required, it offers both time and cost savings for Solent Support Solutions. This also resolved the issue of users storing data locally and the difficulty that some had been experiencing with using the former Desktop as a Service software, as each user had a standardised desktop environment.