Requirement: Infrastructure refresh and Disaster Recovery (DR)
When Sovereign Housing Association - one of the largest social housing landlords in the country - needed to upgrade its IT systems as part of a wider strategy to meet ambitious growth plans, it turned to its partner of choice - virtualisation experts, Blue Chip.
Sovereign Housing Association currently own and manage around 33,000 homes, with ambitious plans to become the leading supplier of flexible housing solutions across the south of the country. Working with a range of local authorities and other partners, their success gives them the opportunity to influence these stakeholders, and in doing so helps to shape the future of the sector.
With more than 1000 staff, reliance on the existing IT infrastructure had already been greatly increased. It was acknowledged that the incumbent system and structure was not scalable, flexible or resilient enough to cope with the changes to the business and would inhibit the intended growth of the organisation.
From the outset, Sovereign was clear on its goals for the project. These included enabling the continuity of a number of key applications, reducing costs where possible (including hardware and energy bills), and increasing the stability and resilience of the infrastructure. Additionally, since Sovereign’s experience with the VMware platform had seen it exceed expectations and produce “some great cost savings and performance levels”, the goal of continuing to build and improve a virtual infrastructure was a must; both for live services and DR sites.
As leading virtualisation experts, Blue Chip recommended VMware vSphere as the most efficient and cost-effective way of meeting its immediate and future needs. In order for this implementation to succeed, a decision was made to make all the key services fail over to Sovereign’s Fulton Court office which has been designed to be the central Disaster Recovery (DR) location.
Dudley Spicer, IT Manager for Sovereign Housing Association, explains: “VMware vSphere was implemented at our central headquarters in Newbury; we then took the backup solution, which was a previous VMware configuration, up to our DR site at Fulton Court six miles away and re-deployed that. Without VMware it would have been too costly to go for a different solution; VMware was the obvious choice.”
Success and Company Benefits
The project was delivered within the allocated five week timescale and to budget. The key business benefit has been the centralisation of servers, which has enabled Sovereign to update and deploy applications very quickly at the touch of a button.
Dudley continues: “Without our VMware-based infrastructure solution the upgrade would have been far too costly to have been implemented, had we gone the traditional route of "tin boxes" and hardware only. We had already selected Blue Chip as our preferred IT supplier because of the gold accreditations they hold with the key vendors in our business - Microsoft, EMC and VMware. Blue Chip provided plenty of consultation throughout the planning phases. We worked to a stringent budget; the support and the planning of all phases were good and Blue Chip was a key factor in the success of this.”