Full systems upgrade increases collaboration and compliance at Tewkesbury Abbey
Benefits at a glance
- Full project management saves time and resources
- Smooth installation and upgrade completed on time to plan
- Minimal user downtime and business disruption
- Cloud based applications allow user collaboration and 24/7 remote access to network and emails
- Virtual servers and robust back-up system ensure business continuity
- User Security Suite reduces risk of cyber-attacks and malware
- Consistent, latest technologies ensure compatibility and enhanced security
Tewkesbury Abbey were facing increased security risks and compliance issues due to ageing hardware and software approaching end-of-life. It was time to replace and upgrade old systems without unnecessary costs, user downtime and disruption. Tewkesbury Abbey selected their longstanding IT support partner, Quintech, to advise on the most suitable solutions and manage the project. After a successful implementation, even this 900-year-old building is benefitting from increased user efficiency and the business security that modern technologies allow.
Formerly a Benedictine monastery, Tewkesbury Abbey is one of the finest examples of Norman Architecture dating back to the 12th Century. The Abbey is a charity which relies on support from over 300 volunteers. A team of more than 20 staff manage the running of the Abbey’s operations including services, sermons, events of varying nature and size, a shop and tea-room.
The challenges were multiple.
A single physical server was getting old and struggling under a heavy load. Software becoming end-of-life posed security and compliance issues.
Ageing hardware was losing speed and reducing user efficiency. Users were working on different versions of software causing incompatibility and the sharing of information was proving difficult. Sage Accounts application needed updating to the latest version.
Anti-virus software needed reviewing to ensure ultimate data security. Network cabling needed updating whilst at the same time taking into account the restrictions of a scheduled monument.
An important aspect during these upgrades was ensuring there was no network interruption to the service in the busy Abbey Shop.
Being a charitable organisation, Tewkesbury Abbey is required to get three quotes for every new project. Philippa Shaw, Executive Officer, was responsible for sourcing a provider to deliver the IT upgrade. Several companies were invited to quote for the work after which Philippa put together a report and recommendation for the Board of Trustees to vote on.
They chose Quintech based on a number of factors: good value; an extensive knowledge and understanding of their requirements; a 15-year relationship built on trust and successful implementations.
With the quote approved, Quintech scoped and managed the project from start to finish, including the coordination of third-party suppliers. This saved valuable time and resources that were better utilised elsewhere by Abbey staff. A lot of the configuration of the new hardware was carried out off-site.
Quintech’s recommendation was that the migration to cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 represented the best solution and
value for money. Office 365 enables access over the internet to Microsoft Office tools including Word, PowerPoint and Excel,
using Outlook for email. Other features include SharePoint, Teams, Skype for Business and OneDrive.
SharePoint in particular is proving very beneficial. As an example, the Head Verger is located in a different office to Philippa.
They both need to work on service sheets, sometimes at the same time, which was never possible before Office 365.
With a busy events schedule, the Abbey calendar is the most important resource accessed by everyone in the organisation. Office 365 means now all users can access the diary online via
Outlook at any time. Office 365 also enables users who have the requirement to access emails off-site via laptop or mobile device. There is also increased capacity to store emails.
One very important aspect during the transition to Office 365 involved The Abbey Shop and minimising disruption of service to customers.
The Point of Sale (POS) system manages stock control for 1,500 line items. The POS software is supplied and managed by a third party, P.B.A. P.B.A configured the POS software to allow compatibility between its interface with the network. Quintech project managed this to ensure a successful data transfer from the old system to the new.
Network cabling connects the office with The Abbey, the Verger’s office, The Vicarage and The Abbey Shop. Fibre-optic cabling provided a link with the Curate’s office. It all needed upgrading but there can be complications and restrictions with such an old, multi-building site. Quintech were aware of these issues and carried the work out sympathetically. The new cabling has improved speed and reliability. In addition, the Curate can now connect to the network remotely meaning he
can get access anytime, anywhere. In fact, every laptop and computer was upgraded to the latest Windows 10 operating system ensuring compliance and enhanced security.
One physical server was struggling and multi-tasking under a heavy load. This was replaced with a new virtual system: the process of using software to create multiple partitions, or virtual instances on a server, each capable of running independently.
Each server has its own unique defined role allowing best performance, resilience, maintenance and disaster recovery.
Quintech also introduced a multi-backup system meaning that in the event of a disaster, any server can be restored within minutes, reducing downtime and improving business continuity. By utilising Microsoft Azure, Quintech has the means to restore the systems using the latest technologies. Another benefit of cloud backup is that it negates the need for back-up tapes which were time consuming and generally a hassle.
The local antivirus system was upgraded to Quintech’s User Security Suite. More than just anti-virus software, it includes features such as content control (disallowing particular websites) and a traffic light system which pre-scans websites before the user hits them and categorises them by level of security. With most viruses now occurring through links to websites via email, this significantly reduces the risk of cyber-attacks and malware. The User Security Suite service monitors every user’s pc and/or laptop to ensure it is kept up-to-date with the latest security updates.
Reflecting on the project overall, it’s clear Quintech have delivered in line with expectations for Tewkesbury Abbey once more.
It’s an important time coming up for The Abbey. It was first consecrated as a church on 21st October 1121. Preparations are already beginning not only in The Abbey but throughout the town to make 2021 a year of celebration: for The Abbey’s 900th Anniversary and also to mark 550 years since the Battle of Tewkesbury. Alongside numerous events, initiatives at The Abbey include a new garden of remembrance and bell. Coordinating a successful event will rely on the people involved, and now helped by operating the newest technologies to allow increased user efficiency and collaboration.