De Vere Group, one of the UK's leading independent hotel and hospitality chains, has signed a multi-million deal (over 3 years) with Manchester-based ANS Group - to move their corporate 'backend' into the Cloud.
The win has just been named 'Best New Business Win' at the CRN Sales & Marketing Awards.
It is believed that De Vere are the UK's first leading independent hotel group to move it's corporate IT infrastructure into the Cloud.
The agreement with ANS Group will see a private 'flexpod in the cloud' solution manage and boost the capacity of the IT systems for the group.
For four years, De Vere have had 18 racks stored off-site with Telecity in Manchester. The new managed solution with ANS Group will see the number of racks stored with Telecity reduce to 3. ANS Group will provide 24/7 support and security and effectively act as De Vere's "IT department".
The new infrastructure will be a complete FlexPod design, using Cisco UCS, Nexus switches, NetApp storage and VMware virtualisation. It will be providing for the needs of 2,500 end-users and will reduce the number of racks in the data centre to just 3. ANS will build a new Citrix farm to publish the applications to users, and will be responsible for the complete migration of the current infrastructure onto the new platform while causing no disruption in service. ANS Group have provided SLAs for DeVere Group that guarantee availability and performance of the data centre over the life of the contract.
ANS Group MD Paul Sweeney says: "This is a strategic move by De Vere Group which demonstrates their long term thinking. It makes good sense to enlist trusted local partners to free up time and resources, allowing De Vere to do what it does best – providing great British hospitality".
Jo Stanford, Group IT Director for De Vere Group, appointed ANS Group. She says "We were very impressed with the demonstration of deep understanding of our business, and of the challenges faced generally in the hospitality sector, shown by ANS Group. The key strategic drive for this project and core to this partnership for us is ensuring that we are providing a first-class infrastructure that will allow us to continue to provide excellent service to our customers, especially during the transitional period, however, a significant side benefit will be substantial savings in hosting costs."
"ANS Group won the deal because it was the right proposal, the right people and the right price – in that order" she says. "They won us over because they were prepared to create a 'Fit for Our purpose' solution".
The key benefits of the cloud solution for De Vere are the dramatically reduced physical hardware, the minimisation of their carbon footprint and also the Profit & Loss benefits in terms not needing to keep depreciating, ageing assets on the balance sheet. Locally source Datacentres are important to De Vere as part of the agreement.
"We have guarantees that our cloud data is within touching distance and that it remains in Europe", says Stanford.
The boost in storage capacity through the private cloud solution means that the De Vere customer experience is radically enhanced. "All properties are fully centralised using terminal services and as such all business critical systems are hosted centrally. These systems are becoming more intuitive, intelligent and dynamic as a result," she says.
De Vere's move into the Cloud has been gradual, however, they will be fully moved over to the Cloud by the end of 2012.
Much of Stanford's work at the De Vere Group has been focused on utilising cloud solutions and developing partnerships with solutions providers to drive business efficiency. She describes relinquishing control of the IT infrastructure into cloud agreements as "passing on your infrastructure headaches whilst retaining full control and ownership of your data".
"If you structure the contract well and have an acceptable level of trust with built in SLAs, effectively what you're doing is using the provider's expertise to manage commodity services allowing the internal team to focus on delivery and maximising the benefit from our business applications".
De Vere's move into the Cloud is ultimately seen as a way to enhance the customer experience. Increased efficiency, availability & business system performance will come about through the removal of ageing, mismatching equipment and increased IT capacity. De Vere are embracing the future to ensure they continue as market leader in the hospitality sector.