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Centrepoint is a national charity for young homeless people dedicated to providing them with a future. Based in London it has over 50 hostels the length and breadth of England and some 600 employees who work around the clock, supporting homeless young people.
In 2017 Centrepoint merged with the Manchester based charity Young People’s Support Foundation (YPSF) which had just two locations in city centre Manchester and Wythenshawe. The merger presented the new larger organisation with both an opportunity as well as a challenge.
Centrepoint’s Head of Technology, Andy Sefton explains: “Centrepoint’s IT was on‐premise with firm plans in place to migrate to the cloud – but by contrast YPSF’s IT was already cloud‐based and operating well – I could see all the benefits I was aiming to achieve on a much larger scale with Centrepoint.
“It made no sense to try and take YPSF backwards ‐ but moving forwards at speed with the complexities of migrating an organisation the size of Centrepoint meant we needed a short‐term fix as well as accelerating our longer‐term cloud‐strategy. I wanted the YPSF team to be able to work from Centrepoint locations and access all the data and applications they needed to do their job from anywhere.”
Centrepoint began discussing the possibilities of how best to achieve putting in place a short‐term bridging solution prior to implementing a plan for longer term cloud‐migration.
Centrepoint chose to work in partnership with Synextra to harmonise the operations of the two newly merged organisations and find a way to bridge the initial challenge.
Andy Sefton explains: “I needed the Centrepoint apps and data to show up on the desktops of the YPSF employees so that they had access to our resources. This meant deploying encryption and links between Synextra’s cloud and Centrepoint allowing YPSF to access what they required via the Synextra desktop. Fundamentally this allowed them to work from any of Centrepoint’s locations.”
Once this had been achieved the bigger challenge of migration to the cloud began.
Centrepoint had an MPLS network of its own provided by BT which needed replacing, Synextra had its own MPLS solution – these were bridged and then the process of replacing the Centrepoint network site by site, link by link began – migrating it to Synextra solution.
“We painstakingly assessed each and every site around England, working out the changes we needed to make to migrate to Synextra’s network. One by one over a six‐month period each site was disconnected from the old network and added to the new one, finally removing the temporary bridge solution when everything had been moved across,” said Andy Sefton.
“We had no downtime whatsoever, which is crucial for an organisation that’s operates around the clock to support vulnerable people.”
From there, Centrepoint deployed Synextra’s Platform On Demand solution and put in place an SLA to match the disaster recovery plan. Every nut, bolt and software application in the datacentre was assessed so that it could support 600 users and data was migrated to the new virtual data centre.
“It wasn’t just a lift and shift,” explains Andy. “Everything was upgraded with the latest versions – all 35 plus systems were upgraded one by one and once again we had no downtime whatsoever.”
“Every app was migrated to the new POD environment and each office was added to the new network, with new desktop environments and new devices too.”
Moving to the cloud has presented Centrepoint with many benefits:
Andy Sefton sums up: “Synextra has walked the path with us and worked collaboratively taking ownership for issues along the way. Quite simply they have my back and they care about the charity and its purpose.
Synextra’s in‐depth knowledge and real technical expertise has made our move to the cloud so much easier and as a result we’ve extended our terms and will be working with them in the foreseeable future.”
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