The YMCA Fylde Coast (FCYMCA) is a diverse charity supporting the needs of the communities it operates in, across 4 key areas – Young People, Housing, Physical Activity, and Outdoor Activity. Whilst independent, it is fully aligned to and embraces the values of the worldwide YMCA movement and its focus on helping young people ‘belong, contribute and thrive’. Whilst its origins on the Fylde Coast date back to 1922 as a single site operation, the organisation as we know it today began its transformation in the late 1990s, and now sees it based in 18 predominantly North West locations, have 600 employees, £9m turnover, 17000 members, and via the breadth of services provided touches the lives of 10,000’s service users every year.
Throughout its journey of growth and expansion, FCYMCA has been supported by String Systems. Initially, whilst the organisation was simply looking for a reliable local supplier for a handful of PC’s, they quickly saw a small but ambitious company with the ‘can do’ attitude and desire to go the extra mile, with whom they could work in a more holistic way. As FCYMCA’s IT needs and requirements developed, so did Strings own journey of growth and capability.
The IT environment went through multiple iterations between 2004 and the last previous significant upgrade in 2014 as the business grew both in user numbers and locations, with each instance delivering value. But come 2017/18, the key characteristics of the ‘older’ system design, based on each location having to have a local server, regardless of the size of the site, together with expensive MPLS connectivity to facilitate access to key centralised applications delivered via Terminal Services, were no longer appropriate for a growing, dynamic organisation, with an increasingly mobile and often home-based workforce. What was needed was a system that delivered flexibility to accommodate an ‘anytime, anywhere, on any device’ secure access policy, lower cost of ownership, improved management, reduced cost of expansion and enhanced user experience, without the need for wholesale replacement of end user devices.
The senior team at String met with their counterparts at FCYMCA and their key application partners to define their Cloud Journey Solution, which would meet all the key criteria around scalability, flexibility and cost control. The solution primarily comprised elements of our Productivity & Engagement and Platforms & Places portfolio, comprised a number of key components:
- Implement Office 365 with all the associated benefits for email and productivity tool access from any device and location, and the peace of mind arising from a secure by design environment.
- Migrate the on-premise core line of the business membership application to its cloud equivalent, immediately increasing flexible access for all users, ease of management and updating
- Introduce a centralised powerful server environment to provide ‘hosted desktop’ capability, enabling the large estate of thin client devices to continue to operate very effectively and further enabling increased adoption of tablets and smartphones as a means of system interaction
- Remove the expensive MPLS requirement for connectivity and implement cost-effective fibre-based alternatives
This was a major project impacting on 100’s of end users with a number of significant interdependencies. Key to its success was the detailed project planning and oversight which supported the phased execution. The project execution comprised
- initial core infrastructure deployment to run in parallel with the existing system
- fibre migration at all sites (a process owned and managed by BT)
- core line of business application migration to the cloud (owned and managed by Gladstone)
- mailbox migration for over 250 mailbox users
- final applications and services migrated to new environment