Divisional IT integration

Better performance and value by replacing division’s previous support contract

The Scenario

The Client

Oxford Innovation are “the UK's leading innovation and incubation centre operator and understand how to deliver both financial and economic impact from work space for start-ups.” [from https://oxin-centres.co.uk/]

The Problem

Although part of SQW Group, in 2018, Oxford Innovation operated with separate IT infrastructure and support, with a support contract due to renew.  As part of a wide-ranging review of how the business should evolve, the advantages of integrating core IT within the Group became clear.  Syplex were already providing effective, robust and secure IT solutions to the Group which provided a ready-made platform to support the integration with the Group IT infrastructure.

At the time of integration, Oxford Innovation operated 24 different sites across the UK, each of which needed a visit to connect to the Group network and convert all systems to the Group model.  Once the decision to go ahead was made, Syplex had an exceedingly short timeframe in which to complete this integration project, since it had to be done before the previous support contract finished. Actions for each site had to be planned individually, resulting in a complex mix of requirements for new hardware,upgrades, software re-installation, networking, user migration, Office 365 rollout, documentation and support.

After a brief planning period, we were able to timetable and deliver the whole project in 8 weeks with 6 of our engineers involved. This included some creative planning and execution by engineers, as well as flexibility and dedication to getting the job done right first time.

The Solution

Planning

The first stage was a data gathering process about each centre in order to build a project plan for the transition.  This included an assessment of hardware lifecycles to ensure that upgrade requirements were identified up front.  The 24 sites were scheduled into the two-month project and Engineers booked for each one.

New hardware

About one third of the existing PCs and laptops were relatively old, so this project provided a timely opportunity to refresh both.  We procured new Dell hardware which we pre-configured to a standard setup prior to installation as part of the on-site visits.  

In addition, we installed and configured new Cisco firewalls and switches to replace existing un-supported devices in order to improve security.

Migrating from a Citrix solution to SQW Group

The previous IT platform was heavily centralised around a Citrix remote desktop solution with a relatively small number of laptop users who operated differently.  This not only created a performance bottleneck for the majority of the staff but complicated things for the laptop users too.  

Integrating with SQW Group switched this to a more normal Windows domain architecture with applications installed locally and systems accessed over secure VPN links to the SQW Datacentre.

This meant that as well as deploying new hardware the existing PCs and laptops had to be re-configured to the SQW domain and all applications installed as part of the site migration.  

The other element was to migrate the centre management system and shared folders to the SQW Group systems, and of course everything had to be co-ordinated to avoid impacting the business.

Support for users

Before, during and after the migration was complete, the management at Oxford Innovation needed to be kept up-to-date on progress,and staff needed to be informed when the changes were scheduled.  Each Centre was updated individually with one Syplex engineer on-site and other engineers working remotely.  The project was resourced separately so as not to impact on the SQW Group IT team during the integration but then handed over to the embedded support engineers on completion.  

The Conclusion

With Syplex looking after their IT, Oxford Innovation Centres were able to quickly achieve a powerful and uniform solution across their many sites.

Their staff are now empowered to easily collaborate with colleagues on or off-site and get help with any IT question from our dedicated support helpdesk. They can be proud of their excellent systems which use industry security and compliance best practice and enable their team to focus on what they do best - growing businesses!

- Kate Wright, Group CFO:

"Syplex staff were proactive, organised and responsive. We had a clear shared vision which they brought to life as discussed.”

Oxford Innovation https://oxin.co.uk/