Belvoir Property Management (UK) Ltd have grown significantly over the years and have acquired numerous property businesses to increase their portfolio. Further to this, they continue to grow and support its network of franchisees.
Due to the nature of their business, as a PLC, they face a significant amount of red tape, which requires them to ensure their data is as secure as possible. This can prove complicated when you consider the different software applications in use that store data. What’s more, onboarding new clients, new staff and updating software across multiple locations can be incredibly time-intensive, which is why it was important for them to explore the solutions available to meet their growing IT demands.
In the following case study, we explain how we overcame a set of challenges faced by Belvoir Property Management (UK) Ltd. As part of the project, we replaced an internal server and assisted them in moving their business to the cloud to secure their data, improve access, increase flexibility and enable scalability.
Belvoir was running an internal server which was handling all their business processes, along with Sage 200. As the business continued to grow, they began experiencing increasing demands on their IT, including:
- Data security
- Data storage
- Disaster recovery
- Remote access to data and software applications
- Shared and collaborative environments for real-time data
As explained by Tom Crowther, Head of IT at Belvoir, “One of my job roles is to risk assess and ensure our data is as safe as possible should disaster strike. We looked at a disaster recovery policy, but it was going to cost around £3-4k per month, which was beyond our budget. However, we needed an affordable solution that would take our data off-site and allow staff who were on the road to access documents from anywhere at any time.”
“We looked at hosted desktops, but I kept coming across two stumbling blocks, data volume and the ability to onboard new franchisee’s easily. At Head Office, we like to lead by example, but even though we could have a hosted desktop delivered, we still needed an engineer on site should there be any issues. Many companies will do this remotely, but there’s a limit to how much they’ll support you. We needed to make it really simple. So, we wanted to take on another IT partner to effectively manage that and support us.”
Microbyte had been working with a couple of the Belvoir Franchisees, and so the company was already familiar with us and our ability to provide seamless IT solutions. What’s more, we had a good understanding of their sector and how the business worked.
The ideal solution would ensure all data, documents, desktops and software would be backed up and secure in the cloud. What’s more, they needed the ability to scale up the amount of storage required at any given time.
We’d need to move their local servers to the cloud and implement Remote Desktop Services (RDS) to get the data off-site and to enable remote staff to access data from anywhere at any time, all within a secure environment.
It was also necessary to provide a solution that would allow multiple locations to access a central Sage 200 account, to streamline the business and act as a central hub, which was all made possible within Azure.
With the issues the client was already experiencing it was important to work closely with them to understand their business processes and map out a staged approach to move their local servers and systems to the cloud.
As Tom Crowther explains, “We’d been aware of Microbyte for quite a number of years. So, we met with Yusuf and his team to discuss our frustrations with our current IT infrastructure and our ideas of how we saw it developing. During the meeting, they explained they could rebuild the servers on-site so all our servers remained on-premise and that they would take over full support of it to ensure everything. The idea behind this was that it’d be much easier to make changes if the data was in one place. Rolling out the new internal server was the first stage of redesigning our IT infrastructure and having one partner dedicated to supporting us.”
Once Belvoir was used to the concept, we migrated all the data into a data centre in Peterborough for proof of concept. It worked incredibly well and so we entered the next phase.
The next step was to migrate all of Belvoir’s business data and systems to Azure, which included Sage 200. Since it was not possible to increase the accessibility of Sage 200 over a VPN, we span up a server to house the SQL databases and Sage. This allowed offices miles apart from one another to log in to a single location, removing the constraints of geography.
The IT infrastructure is now highly secure, even in the event of a disaster, Belvoir can access their data from anywhere at any time. What’s more, staff on the road, or those who work remotely also have access to up to date, real-time data when they need it.
As Tom Crowther explains, “We now have the infrastructure in place to effectively onboard data from any property companies we acquire. We don’t have to worry about whether our servers are powerful enough to house it, we can simply ramp up the resources to ensure they’re capable. The infrastructure we now have in place also means that when we upgrade Sage, we only have to do it the once on the RDS server, rather than having to update single desktops.”
“Following on from this project we’ve employed Microbyte to essentially become an extension of our team. They fully support Azure, along with our internal servers, phone systems and the Internet. They also assist with onboarding. So, when we take on new companies, they’ll help us get them in the cloud and supply IT equipment when necessary.”
“Microbyte has been much more than a service provider, they’re our business partner – An extension of ourselves who we work incredibly close with. We bounce ideas around with them for further improvements to our infrastructure, and they’re always happy to accommodate and provide new solutions. We get great value from working with them, which is why we recommend their services to our franchisees IT support as one of our preferred suppliers.”