Alzheimer Scotland campaigns for the rights of people living with dementia and their families. The charity is the leading dementia organisation in Scotland and provides support and care services throughout the country. It is headquartered in Edinburgh and is a widely distributed organisation with approximately 1000 staff and 650 volunteers, working in offices, resource and service centres, shops, mobile vehicles and at events.
Consult and create
The organisation needs to ensure that all staff members and volunteers can connect to its IT infrastructure and network in order for them to effectively communicate with the company and each other, and be able to retrieve any relevant information required. A cost-effective and reliable approach was required and the company began looking for an IT provider that could support its small IT team and provide support to the entire staff complement.
From its support staff and its communications team, which uses social media to engage with staff and supporters, to the administration team and fundraising staff, many tasks are increasingly dependent on network connectivity.
Alzheimer Scotland has been working with Pulsant for the last seven years. The cloud, colocation and managed hosting company initially supplied network connectivity to the charity at its head office. As the organisation grew and developed it required better connectivity to enable its remote sites to be part of the corporate network.
Integrate and activate
Pulsant worked with Alzheimer Scotland’s IT team to develop and install a private DSL / WAN solution to meet these requirements. In addition, Pulsant also provides the telephony solution – SIP trunks that are hosted in Pulsant’s Newbridge datacentre. This combination of a secure broadband connection and VoIP solution allows Alzheimer Scotland to deliver a cost-effective and practical solution that delivers the network connectivity and telecoms required at its remote sites.
“The relationship we have with Pulsant has grown significantly over the last three years to the point where Pulsant is by far the most important partner we have from an IT perspective”, explained Gus Mitchell, ICT Manager, Alzheimer Scotland.
Since initially supplying network connectivity and SIP trunks, Pulsant has provided managed email hosting, Microsoft Lync and is continuing to work with the organisation to assess its IT requirements.
Ian Appleyard, Client Manager, Pulsant, explained: “Part of what drives our business is ensuring that our customers’ requirements continue to be met as they evolve, and that the technology solution we’ve deployed is still driving real business outcomes”.
As an organisation, Alzheimer Scotland is geographically widespread and relies completely on its network connectivity and email.
“When we realised the need to upgrade our email system, we knew we didn’t have the resource to do it in-house. As a result, we went out to tender in order to access all of our options. We ideally wanted a close, trusted relationship with our supplier, someone who was capable and competent, as well as assurances that we would know where our data was being held”, Mitchell said.
The existing email server was based in-house and featured outdated hardware, limited storage and applications and an operating system that was reaching the end of their lifecycle. After evaluating options, Alzheimer Scotland selected Pulsant to host and manage its email solution.
Pulsant was responsible for setting up the platform and migrating the data. There are several benefits for Alzheimer Scotland in this managed approach, with one of the most important being the ease with which Pulsant can add or remove users from the platform as required.
We had a lot of work to do in replacing each user’s email client application, which was a challenge given the distribution of our staff. The server is hosted in Pulsant’s Newbridge datacentre, which is close to our head office which made the solution very attractive”.
Following the successful rollout of the email platform, Alzheimer Scotland called on Pulsant to deliver Microsoft Lync to its employees.
The installation of Microsoft Lync across the organisation was completed successfully within just three weeks. The solution provides video conferencing, calls and file sharing capabilities to the organisation and gives staff more flexibility in setting up conference calls and communicating within the widely spread team. It cuts costs for the organisation and eliminates the need for unnecessary travel.
Support and evolve
“They’re very responsive to us; they understand what we need, what we can do from a technical perspective and what we can’t do. They are good at helping us get to where we need to be”, explained Mitchell.
“We can also build on the investment we’ve already made on other services – whether it’s a network investment or the fact that we’ve already extended our Active Directory to our infrastructure within the Pulsant environment, our VPN or security infrastructure. That’s what made the Lync installation so straight-forward for us.
“We are a small IT team serving a large base of users who expect a quick turnaround to requests and incidents, which isn’t always possible. With Pulsant, however, we’re using them as an extended IT team and that has incredible benefits for our organisation”.
Going forward Pulsant is hosting SharePoint to the organisation with the anticipated roll out to the wider organisation in September 2014.