Background

Orchard provides software, services and supporting technical solutions that help housing businesses and public sector organisations to improve the lives of their customers, tenants and residents.

In 2015, Orchard was presented with a fantastic opportunity to relocate from its King’s Manor location and looked at a number of possible sites within the Newcastle area. Its key objectives were to source an office space where it could accommodate all staff on one floor to encourage interactivity and were looking for something fairly central with good travel links. Among the sites visited, Central Square, a 1930’s Post office met all its requirements, as well as offering great views of the city.

As part of that relocation exercise, Orchard commissioned ITPS to carry out a complex extraction and migration project of its hosted solution supporting over 200 housing associations.

The move presented an opportunity to create a new technical roadmap, and Orchard opted to switch from an on-premise model to cloud, hosted at ITPS’s Tier 3, ISO27001-certified data centre and workspace recovery base in County Durham.

Solution

Six months of detailed planning went into the project, to minimise risk and provide maximum reassurance and accessibility for Orchard’s 160 staff.

The previous infrastructure involved a suite of servers at the previous head office at Kings Manor in Newcastle, and at ITPS’s data centre in Sunderland, supported by three-way communications linking the two sites with ITPS’s data centre in County Durham.

The three-stage project to accommodate the move to Orchard’s new headquarters saw ITPS strengthen Orchard’s compute and storage capacity at the Sunderland DC before consolidating the King’s Manor server estate and migrating it across in stages.

Once complete, the next step was to migrate the entire infrastructure to ITPS’s County Durham DC, adding in extra 10Gb lines to provide a resilient triangle of connectivity between Orchard’s headquarters and two of ITPS’s three data centres.

An element of Orchard’s compute and storage was left in the Sunderland data centre to facilitate links to one of its subsidiary companies, while desktops were upgraded and new cabling and switches installed. The last stage of the project saw ITPS transfer the PBX phone system to the new headquarters.

The new solution incorporates 300 virtual servers and is based on Flexpod, the integrated computing, networking and storage solution by Cisco, NetApp and VMware.

In total the project was carried out in 30 man days spread over two months, which included the Christmas period. As Orchard’s clients enjoy 24/7 support and there were time penalties attached to any delay in moving out of the old headquarters, there was no opportunity for downtime so the network was designed underneath the existing solution, enabling staff to access systems and data from any location, all the way through the process.

Outcome

Paul Crennell, Chief Technology Officer at Orchard commented on the process: “Orchard has worked with ITPS for over 10 years and this has developed into a strategic alliance based on trust and shared values.

ITPS provides critical services to a number of our key customers and is also a pivotal provider of advanced technical services directly to the Orchard business itself. These services range from key technology provisioning, hosted platforms, managed services, disaster recovery and business continuity to co-location, security and virtualisation for both desktop and server.

When we took the decision to relocate to accommodate our growth, ITPS was the obvious choice to provide technical migration and network consultancy, in addition to hosting our ICT infrastructure across its North East datacentres.

This was a major technical migration that underpinned the office move and was delivered to specification and budget, within a very tight timetable, and without a hitch.

ITPS has helped us to eliminate single points of failure, strengthen our business continuity strategy by replicating the infrastructure across two data centres, and create an easily expandable network that can flex alongside the business.

The ITPS people are great, and we work together as one team. We have a fantastic relationship and I can pick up the phone to anyone, including the MD, if we ever have an issue. Both companies operate on mutual values of honesty and openness, and are committed to doing our very best for the client.

It made complete sense to go down the cloud hosted route. We’ve done it with the help of ITPS, and it’s given us the confidence to recommend it to our customers. Moving to cloud has freed up our in-house IT team to focus on strategy and taking the business forward.

Our ICT is the foundations on which our business is built and it’s fair to say that some of our people had concerns about the potential for disruption as we switched to cloud, but the project went absolutely perfectly and has more than justified the cost. We are already seeing a range of efficiency benefits, and we expect to make significant cost savings too.”