Home Group

CASE STUDY

A Brief Introduction

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They say an Englishman’s home is his castle. Home Group makes this a reality for 120,000 people every year. It offers secure housing to those who need it most.

The company’s reliance on mobile access to central apps was growing. The IT team had to be sure core systems wouldn’t fail. Needing a platform to meet its needs for the next five years, Home Group set its sights on a data center upgrade. The project was an ideal opportunity to cut costs and administrative effort, with the latest technologies for a more efficient setup. Business agility helps meet the needs of housing clients quicker. That’s why Home Group transformed its service delivery. But the data center might have been a weak link. Cisco® FlexPod supplied the strength.

Will you cope if disaster strikes

The Challenge

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  • Make computing more agile and resilient
  • Cut risk of service interruptions
  • Reduce costs and improve productivity

Integrated, single-stack Cisco FlexPods offer flexibility and reliability in a simple, easy-to-manage package. Think about the complexity of managing 55,000 homes across 200 local authorities. People out-and-about need fast access to central apps for speedy responses. That could all be for nothing if computing power’s not up to the task.

ITPS Approach

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A Cisco FlexPod solution was chosen. It uses Cisco servers and switches tightly coupled with NetApp storage and VMware virtualization. That provides an easy-to-manage, superior infrastructure stack with cooperative multi-vendor support and a single point of contact.

David Redpath, Director of Information Services, explains: “We liked the fact that the design was pre-tested and signed off by Cisco.” Home Group worked with its strategic infrastructure partner, IT Professional Services, for a trouble-free transition.

“The flexibility of suffering an outage at one data centre and the other taking over without the business knowing is astonishing,” adds Redpath.

“It’s surely a first for the U.K. housing sector.” Maintenance is simple. If needed the IT team can easily switch server workloads across data centers, so users get the latest information and tools. New services can be created in minutes.

Results

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BUSINESS NEVER STOPS
  • Along with other initiatives, $1.4 million was saved in one year
  • Same IT team as before running both data centers
  • Risk of data loss virtually eliminated

Twin FlexPod systems, configured as a MetroCluster at the main Home Group site and two of the IT Professional Services data centres several miles away, ensure the business never stops. They run VMware vSphere, Oracle ERP, Microsoft SharePoint, and other business apps. Operating seamlessly across both locations, complex application-based configuration isn’t required. Data flows between the two sites using Cisco Nexus switches with Cisco® Overlay Transport Virtualization and superfast Fiber Channel over Ethernet. This creates a geographically separated, clustered environment.

Maintenance is simple. If needed the IT team can easily switch server workloads across data centers, so users get the latest information and tools. New services can be created in minutes.

Will you cope if disaster strikes

The ITPS Difference

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Staff visiting clients had to wait until they got back to their desks to update case notes. Now they do it on the spot and synchronize their mobile devices when they return to the office.

“Moving from paper-based processes means clients get housed a lot quicker,” says Mick Bamford, Information Services Technical Manager. “FlexPod helped make that possible.”

Home Group is set to make big productivity gains because the same IT team manages both data centres. More importantly, it’s also lowered risk.

Before, if power was cut, IT systems would falter after 60 minutes—barely enough time to close programs. So the IT team had to start shutting things down as soon as the lights started to flicker. Lower FlexPod power demand makes that a thing of the past.

“As part of a wider change program, including this solution, savings of £1.4m a year are expected.”

David Redpath

Director of Information Services at Home Group

Get In Touch

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