Case study

Glyndebourne opera house migrates to Google Apps

Clare McDonald

Glyndebourne opera house has migrated more than 200 employees to Google Apps for applications such as mail, business workflow and storage.

Founded in 1934, the 1,200-seat opera house in East Sussex found that its Microsoft Office, Sharepoint and Exchange solution was no longer coping with the demands of its growing workforce.

The Google Inc. logo displays in building 43

The growth of mobile working also put a strain on the old system, and the IT department spent up to three full days a month maintaining the Microsoft applications, some of which resided on dedicated machines to allow a complicated remote access procedure to take place.

Richard Wells, head of IT at Glyndebourne, says: “A need had been identified to improve our collaborative working. We were using a fairly elderly SharePoint-based intranet, so it had been updated. I think what the users were finding was that the interface was perhaps less than brilliant for their needs.”

The increased need for collaborative working exposed holes in the SharePoint system, including difficulty in searching for files, accessing emails or retrieving relevant data, including music scores, audio and video data, Word documents and Excel spreadsheets.

Wells says: “Above all that, you’d find that with changes in users’ Office software, which integrates into SharePoint, different users with different versions of Office could be at different levels of integration for the SharePoint product. There was no consistent experience.”

In what he described as a ‘classic light-bulb moment’, Wells chose cloud solutions provider Ancoris to implement Google Apps to tackle these issues.

“We showed a small working group of colleagues Google Apps as an experimental demonstration and what everyone saw was that all of a sudden you didn’t really need to have a bunch of web pages or kind of gluing together your documents.”

With the opera house staging more than 120 performances a year, some of which are recorded, audio and video data could not be shared easily.

Using Google Drive, the organisation has been able to store almost 500GB of digital performance data in the cloud.

“We have already digitised some of our assets where previously we had lots of hard-copy scores,” says Wells. “We still need those, but a lot of that we quickly digitised and stored on Google Drive.”

Wells says “decades worth” of audio recordings that have been kept over the years have been digitised. Glyndebourne has found that storing these digitised recordings in the cloud has made it easy to reduce the amount of physical storage required to keep recordings on site.

The cloud-based system also saves users time because they are not constantly sending different iterations of documents to each other via email, making collaborative working easier.

Wells adds: “We had the requirement to make [the team’s] data available, especially the intranet. People really saw that as the hub where they get their information and this has been an opportunity to change that structure and improve it. People now spend less time looking for stuff they need, they can work on it with greater ease, and they’re always working on the right version.”

Since Glyndebourne's system users have adopted cloud working through Google Drive, the IT team time have spent less time on troubleshooting because they do not have to reinstall Office or apply break-fixes or updates.

“We are spending less time dealing with issues that might have arisen on the Office desktop products,” says Wells. “I think when users are working in the cloud, it almost seems as though they are just more self-sufficient. The products have been designed to be not just simple, but actually be quite easy and intuitive to use and I think people have found it quite an enabling step for users.”

David McLeman, managing director of Ancoris, says: “In the last two or three years, adoption of cloud-based systems has been largely for things like email, and now I think collaboration is becoming the number one driver for adoption of cloud solutions and Glyndebourne is a good example of that.”


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