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Wolverhampton Council

Local Authority moves to the cloud to support mobility, increase agility and improve overall resilience

  • The City of Wolverhampton Council is one of four local authorities in the Black Country, working to support Wolverhampton, which achieved city status in 2000. With almost 250,000 residents in just 26.8 square miles, the City of Wolverhampton Council is responsible for providing services to one of the most densely populated areas of the UK.
  • The ICT team at the City of Wolverhampton Council delivers cost-effective ICT services for over 10,500 seats, including councillors, staff and local schools.

When the City of Wolverhampton Council wanted to replace on-premises email with a new, more flexible, cloud-based approach, it looked to Office 365 as the solution and chose Core to make it a reality.

The Challenge

In line with councils up and down the country, the City of Wolverhampton Council face significant financial challenges through budget cuts and central government constraints. Across the board, it’s looking to maximise efficiency, embrace innovation and ensure that more can be done with less. That applies to ICT as much as anything else, where the council is adopting a new cloud-first strategy to take advantage of the cost-savings and benefits associated with cloud computing.

Rather than upgrading its existing Microsoft Exchange email solution the team, led by Enterprise Manager Paul Dunlavey, looked to move to Office 365, hoping to improve the organisation’s agility and make use of powerful new communication tools. However, with thousands of seats to shift to the new system, the in-house team wanted help with design, configuration and migration. Three potential partners were considered, and when the job was put out to tender the City of Wolverhampton Council chose Core. "Core’s response seemed to fit with what we wanted" says Dunlavey. "They’d done it before, had the right experience and had good timelines in there. Cost was one of the main factors, as we’re a local authority, but we also had a good gut feeling that we could work with these people".

The Solution

Initially, Core collaborated with the City of Wolverhampton Council on a series of workshops to understand their requirements and design a solution that would support their long-term goals. Core’s consultants then worked closely with the in-house ICT team to install and configure an Office 365 solution, focused on replacing the existing on-premises Exchange solutions with email and collaboration services based on Skype for Business and Exchange Online. They then assisted the team to migrate an initial group of users, ensuring that the process ran smoothly.

Throughout, Core worked hard to tailor its services to the council’s needs, even switching consultants to get the best fit. "There was an immediate synergy between our organisation and Core" says Dunlavey, "and from that point forward we made great strides." Core’s consultant "was extremely flexible in his approach" Dunlavey adds, "working both on and off-site, answering questions via email at all hours of the day and night. On-site he worked with our techs here, sitting at the same desk and moving things forward." By encouraging the in-house team to take control, providing constant feedback and support as needed, Core’s consultant helped them build their skills and expertise with Office 365.

This kind of knowledge transfer was a key part of the process, but through advice, practical assistance and thorough documentation, Core delivered beyond the council’s expectations. "Originally we said that we wanted assistance with the first 250 mailboxes, which should have given us a feel and then we’d go on our own" says Dunlavey. "But the knowledge transfer was quite comprehensive, and after just 100 we were quite happy with the process. It worked repeatedly and correctly, so we took it on ourselves."

Since then, Wolverhampton’s ICT team has migrated over 1,000 users and plans to migrate the rest of the 3,500 user estate before the end of 2015. Thanks to Core’s work in streamlining the process, the team has been able to complete these migration tasks alongside their normal daily work.

The Benefits

Following the migration to Office 365, the City of Wolverhampton Council has a solution that enables a more agile, flexible style of ICT. "Mobility has definitely improved" says Dunlavey, "Our customers can hook up to their accounts using iPads, and they find Office 365 much easier to use." Skype for Business’s instant messaging capabilities are also seeing widespread adoption. As Dunlavey puts it, "when we started, people thought ‘I’d never use that, why would I? I’ll just use email or pick up the phone', but as you move around the organisation now you can see the little IM box on people’s screens and they are using it."

Dunlavey also notes how the disaster recovery and business continuity benefits of moving to the cloud help the City of Wolverhampton Council move towards more strategic ICT goals, while Office 365’s provision of 1TB per user of cloud-based storage frees up server space right now while cutting requirements for additional storage in the future. Meanwhile, the lowered burden of managing the in-house infrastructure gives the ICT team "more time to focus on what other benefits we can get out of Office 365." Most of all, it’s given the City of Wolverhampton Council more impetus to push ahead with a cloud-first strategy. "This was our first toe in the water" says Dunlavey, "and it’s given us the confidence to look at other things, such as using Windows Azure for Infrastructure as a Service. It’s given us some confidence in how cloud works, and in seeing what else it can do for us."

Why Core?

The City of Wolverhampton Council chose Core because Core offered the required skill set at the right price with a solid pedigree of migrating large organisations to the cloud, including those within the public sector. That’s a choice borne out by the results. "It’s been a very good, very open relationship" says Dunlavey. "Our technical guys got on very well, and we had very responsive people to work with." Core continues to provide the City of Wolverhampton Council with support, and the team would certainly involve Core in more projects in the future. "If I had a problem" says Dunlavey, "I’d have no hesitation picking up the phone, calling Core and saying ‘we could do with a bit of help on this. How are you fixed?" 


Tags

Collaborative Working; Transforming IT Infrastructure; Solutions for Government; Secure Mobile Working   Government Microsoft SharePoint; Microsoft Office 365; Microsoft Skype for Business; Microsoft Exchange