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The Yacht Havens Group owns and operates 8 marina locations stretching from Scotland to the South coast of England and has approximately 120 staff. The business is a 24/7 operation with berthholders, visitors and fishermen using the marinas at all hours of the day and night.
The group wanted to move to the cloud to enable better collaboration between their 8 different sites and to create greater cohesion of the management and monitoring of the group as a whole.
“We had 8 different servers and I had to juggle and maintain them all constantly, making sure everything was working,” reveals Ben Fox, Yacht Havens’ IT Manager.
“We chose Databarracks because we had built up a relationship of trust after using them for online backup for 6 years. We were also in talks with other providers but they weren’t flexible on the contract, whereas any point could be discussed with Databarracks and amended for our specific requirements. This was a big bonus, as it meant both the IT and managerial teams were satisfied on a legal and technical basis.”
Databarracks built a test platform and data from Yacht Havens’ headquarters in Lymington, Hampshire which was uploaded first. The second site to be uploaded was the marina furthest away from the exchange, with the slowest internet speeds. The nature of its marina business means that sites are often in remote locations and far from exchanges where the bandwidth can be low.
“The migration was extremely well-managed by Databarracks. Uploading the data worked very elegantly. There were a couple of problems, which is always going to happen, but Databarracks were very quick to say they had an issue and kept the lines of communication open. I knew that Databarracks would be capable of dealing with it. ” says Fox.
“The immediate change I have personally is peace of mind – I don’t have to worry about maintaining servers running across 8 sites and now I have technical support on hand 24/7,” adds Fox.
Yacht Havens has found that moving their infrastructure to the cloud is particularly beneficial to a multi-sited group and has benefitted from better communication between sites.
“What is clear to see is that the organisational workflow will be improved. Our management software is now hosted in the cloud and sites can see each other’s data - so from a management point of view, we can consolidate tasks where needed” continues Fox.
“Logging, billing and contracts can now be done centrally and there is real scope for integrating our CRM more effectively. We have a much better view of our data and it’s much easier and faster to generate customised reports across the entire group,” reveals Fox.
“We’re also aiming to cut down the bulk of email,” says Fox. “Whereas before we would send endless attachments between sites, which would double up on servers, now we can just email a link to where the file is kept. We plan to implement Microsoft Lync for instant messaging between staff to further reduce the number of emails.”
“Cloud technology has also enabled remote access to systems for managers, which is especially important as we are a 24/7 operation,” continues Fox.
Databarracks’ cloud hosting solution also reduces the spend on hardware in the future:
The benefits of being in the cloud have already proved worthwhile when Yacht Havens recently had a power cut: “Once the screens came back on again, staff were surprised to see their work exactly how they left it, with no need to recover documents or restart applications because our IT systems are offsite with our hosting provider,” says Fox.
Yacht Havens are already using their new virtual private cloud to benefit customers: “The marina sector hasn’t traditionally been an innovator in IT but now with the power of the cloud there is a whole myriad of services that we can offer,” says Fox. “Customers expect free wi-fi at marinas and we are currently working on providing online statements and online diaries, so owners can immediately have access to their accounts and see when their boat is coming in and out of the water.”
The next phase for Yacht Havens is to incorporate their website into the cloud to provide a very quick online service to their customers. They also intend to bring in Hosted Exchange to and use SharePoint for their own portal and online collaboration and working.
“My only concern is that we are now increasingly reliant on broadband, “To mitigate any business interruption that would result from an outage, we have bonded two broadband lines with two different ISPs as well as a 3G card and are looking into the prospect of MPLS services” says Fox
“Databarracks’ cloud solution is enabling us to do so much more and now the task is realising and managing the change,” says Fox. “The solution has freed up my time and allows me to get on with creating the software for use within the business and by customers. The cloud isn’t a one size fits all solution but for a multi-sited business as ours the time was right to make the move.”
Tags: Cloud/Managed Services
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