When an office relocation prompted the Welsh housing association, Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd (CCG), to undergo a digital transformation, it needed a supplier who fully understood its business needs and could deliver a complete and fully integrated solution. The telecoms and cloud services expertly delivered by Six Degrees have eliminated unexpected downtime, enabling CCG to create a more connected workforce with the flexibility of an IaaS model. This has resulted in greater collaboration and productivity throughout the entire CCG organisation.
CCG is the largest housing association in North Wales, providing quality, affordable homes and services to its 12,000 tenants in 6,300 homes across Gwynedd. As well as managing and maintaining properties in the county’s main towns and rural villages, the organisation provides 400 sheltered units for older and more vulnerable individuals. Considering the responsibility that CCG carries to ensure all 6,300 homes are well maintained and tenants accounted for, the ability to not only store, but also access data quickly is of the utmost importance.
Due to the crucial and sensitive nature of the work carried out by CCG, it is vital that the organisation’s IT systems run efficiently and without any latency issues. Additionally, as an organisation with a central focus on staying ahead of the curve in terms of the latest advancements in IT, CCG is continually on the lookout for any new solutions and products that could enhance the efficiency of its internal IT systems.
An office move offered the IT team at CCG opportunity to embark on a digital transformation project. CCG had considered implementing Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) technology, but couldn’t quite justify the move financially. Richard Nightingale, ICT Infrastructure and Operations Manager at CCG, commented: “Whilst we knew the benefits in terms of added resilience and the ability to create movement away from one central head office, the financial implications and CCG business model at the time meant it wasn’t a viable option.” Relocation gave CCG the financial justification required to transform and streamline its IT systems.
The team at CCG was faced with the task of moving all systems out of a single on-site server room, while maintaining the organisation’s IT uptime.
“We needed high-speed MPLS connectivity at all our offices and the ability to move these connections as and when needed,” explained Nightingale. “This enabled us to rationalise office accommodation, create an agile organisation and workforce whilst also adding resilience to the business.”
CCG also needed secure high-speed access to a tier four data centre to house its VOIP phone system and the ability to leverage cloud IaaS, all on net with the MPLS connection.
In order to achieve all this, CCG needed to simultaneously migrate its on premises virtualised environment into a cloud infrastructure and transfer from one provider to another during office hours, without any loss of connectivity or disruption. Apart from the risk factors involved in doing this, it was important that the business moved to a service that would perform and not leave stakeholders underwhelmed.
As Nightingale summarised: “We needed a partner that could understand our specific needs for migrating away from a PSBA MPLS connection, design a solution and work with us to ensure a seamless transition without loss of connectivity.”
Of the small number of expert telecoms and IaaS technology providers chosen to pitch for the contract, Six Degrees stood out as the only one that had all the required services managed under one business.
“What we were struggling to find was a provider that had expertise in all of the areas we needed and could therefore help deliver a synergised offering,” commented Geraint Jones, Head of ICT at CCG. “That’s when we found Six Degrees – they covered all of the elements we were looking for in both telecommunications and cloud applications.”
Six Degrees worked with CCG to develop a solution that suited the organisation’s budget in terms of individual requirements. “When formalising the offerings from all parties, Six Degrees came out on top offering best value,” explained Nightingale. Furthermore, Six Degrees was able to strengthen the business case with a clear, predictable financial comparison.
CCG had decided to use this transition as an opportunity to create a more connected system for all CCG staff, through adopting IaaS technology, with the ability to access essential documents away from the main office. Initially, the team expected that well-known providers, such as Azure or AWS, would offer the best solution, but after exploring in more detail, it discovered otherwise. “Our initial research found that in nearly every case, CCG would need almost double the resources to get the same service in the cloud as what it had currently on premises when using the larger cloud providers,” Nightingale stated.
As an alternative, Six Degrees suggested trialling its Enterprise Cloud: “Our account manager at Six Degrees gave us confidence in the knowledge that if we moved our data to its cloud, we would be given like for like or an improvement on what we were working with currently. We were also assured that this would be carried out with none of the additional unexpected costs, as we were already a customer.”
Six Degrees delivers a variety of connection technologies to CCG, all delivered through the MPLS network. Depending on the site and its needs CCG have a mixture of ADSL, SDSL, EFM and Fibre. These circuits deliver voice and data throughout CCG’s offices.
“What’s great about Six Degrees is that it is carrier agnostic, therefore they always get the best value product for the area that you need a circuit delivered. They also understand that sometimes fibre connections are overkill for some solutions and I feel that I have never been oversold a product on that basis,” said Nightingale.
CCG also leverages Six Degrees’ resilient SIP telephony service to deliver its telephony services. Six Degrees managed the transition from ISDN over to SIP with a dedicated team to organise the transfer of CCG’s DDI range.
IT-led business transformation has created a more connected workforce throughout the entire CCG organisation, resulting in greater collaboration and productivity. As a result of CCG’s partnership with Six Degrees, the organisation now experiences the following benefits:
- Comprehensive IT services with no unexpected additional costs
- Elimination of unexpected IT downtime and loss of data, with no single point of failure
- Greater collaboration and productivity through an entirely connected workforce, with the capability for expansion
- Constant support from an expert external IT team
Jones commended the installation process: “We experienced no unplanned downtime through the migration process. It was critical for CCG that the contact centre was up and running on Monday morning and Six Degrees did not disappoint – this was where it truly shone through as an expert managed service provider.”
Looking ahead, CCG is currently working with Six Degrees to bring general Internet access to CCG’s tenants who live in its sheltered housing schemes. It is also looking at a more robust and cohesive method of providing CCTV connectivity through the business using its current MPLS technology.
Jones commented: “We cannot fault the service and support offered by Six Degrees. No request was too much trouble and there was no such thing as a silly question. We would absolutely recommend its services and consider it for any future IT requirements.”