Virtualisation Installation Prepares Prestigious Brand for the Future
Champneys are pioneers of the concept of holistic well-being, the first UK health spa chain and the first purpose-built health resort, all located in the English counties of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire and Hampshire. The IT for the Champneys health resorts and retail stores has been fully managed by Mirus for over eight years, with services for infrastructure management and daily IT support for 250 regular IT users.
Champneys were aware that new technologies available presented an opportunity to future proof the business and the prestigious brand whilst overcoming some of the practical challenges facing the business. For example, the company operates across multiple geographic locations with a historically dispersed technology infrastructure. Newer technology solutions presented the opportunity to consolidate daily management overheads whilst improving system performance, that both supported the brand and the overall efficiency of the business.
Each of the main health resort sites accommodated at least four physical servers, each with bespoke third party applications and a number of line of business applications. The Mirus IT team had been providing Managed Service support for their existing infrastructure with standard levels of remote and onsite support across all locations. The longevity of the relationship allowed Mirus IT to cultivate an in-depth understanding of the business and provide consultative support for future technology investments to overcome the issues identified.
The primary objectives included; proactively planning for the termination of Microsoft support for Windows XP, improved performance and user access, and helping the business take advantage of opportunities to enhance customer service with improved technology solutions.
With thorough understanding of the client’s needs and extended regular consultation from senior business and technical advisors and project management teams, Mirus recommended a solution that would support the brand reputation and customer loyalty whilst meeting project targets and maintaining a steady operation.
The technical solution was to replace the physical server infrastructure at each resort with a significantly consolidated cluster of virtualised servers in one offsite datacentre. This meant that fewer physical machines needed to be maintained and the machines could be easily monitored and mostly administered by Mirus engineers remotely. This aimed to remove the pressure from the Champneys IT administrative team and the need for Mirus field engineers to visit each resort site when issues arose meaning response times to IT issues could be dramatically reduced.
Fully Project Managed
The whole transition was overseen by a senior team of business and technical consultants to ensure Champneys systems continued to be proactively monitored.
The infrastructure project was planned with a phased delivery to reduce the impact on the business and prioritise sites that were most in need. The phased approach provided Champneys the stability to continue to run at full capacity.
Although much of the equipment infrastructure was re-commissioned and relocated, support of priority legacy third party software was retained so business and customer services were maintained. This, and the introduction of new industry specialist applications to centralise their commercial booking and management was seamlessly introduced to the new environment.
Mirus worked with a third party MPLS provider to implement new connections across nine sites, managing the installation so that the migration from the traditional ADSL occurred without downtime.
Business Continuity & Back Up
Mirus also project managed the implementation of Mirus’ managed disaster recovery and backup solution that replaced dispersed tape backup procedures across all locations to an improved, centrally managed 2-tier onsite and offsite replication solution.
The approach brought Champneys’ business objectives and technology support into tighter alignment again and provided a transparent technology roadmap for future upgrade points with a foreseeable expenditure plan.
The combination of the MPLS connection into the newly optimised network means that staff have much faster access to their desktop functionality. As the staff at Champneys use remote desktop access, the speed of connectivity and network performance are critical to productivity and customer service levels.
Champneys now has a more comprehensive, robust onsite back up that is also replicated offsite, allowing for full recovery if Disaster Recovery has to be invoked. The back up solution is fully maintained and continuously monitored by a dedicated team of in house experts at Mirus.
The consolidation of the infrastructure means there are now fewer large CAPEX investments to plan for and manage, diverting critical upgrade points to less costly and less disruptive end user devices.
The centralisation and relocation of the virtualised server cluster also brought additional security benefits as the Mirus team had faster and more controlled access to maintenance and support, meaning issues were addressed more quickly and subject to fewer vulnerabilities and variables.
Champneys infrastructure is fully managed by Mirus and centrally hosted, providing business continuity, information security and added resilience.
“Throughout this transition period the team at Mirus at all levels have been very supportive of our needs and willing to go the extra mile on many occasions. We work closely with their senior advisors and have benefited a great deal from their expertise and enthusiasm to help us achieve our business objectives.”
Darren Corke, Group Technical Manager