Computer Weekly European User Awards 2015 winners revealed

The winners have been announced for the Computer Weekly European User Awards 2015. See who made the top spots

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: CWEurope: CW Europe – September 2015 edition:

Ten innovative IT projects were crowned winners of the Computer Weekly European User Awards 2015 at a ceremony during Cloud World Forum.

The Computer Weekly European User Awards honours IT professionals across Europe that have excelled in their approach to using technology. Some 130 entries were narrowed down to a shortlist of 50 finalists.

Brian McKenna, business applications editor at Computer Weekly, presented the winners with their trophies at the conference, which took place at the Olympia National in London on 24 June 2015.

The Computer Weekly European User Awards announcement was part of a joint ceremony in which McKenna also announced the winners of the Cloud World Series Awards and Navispace awards.

The winners for 2015 are:

Best private sector project of the year

MTGx, entered by Load Impact.

Best datacentre project of the year

European Bioinformatics Institute, entered by Delphix.

Best mobile computing project of the year

Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

Best public sector project of the year

Home Office, entered by Equal Experts.

Best networking project of the year

Osborne.

Best storage project of the year

Amatis Networks, entered by Tintri.

Best security project of the year

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, entered by Nexthink.

Best cloud project of the year

The Open University.

Best big data, BI and analytics project of the year

British Gas Smart Metering (BGSM), entered by Qlik.

Best business applications project of the year

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water.

Best private sector project of the year

MTGx, entered by Load Impact

In 2013, MTGx acquired the rights to broadcast the 2014 Winter Olympics throughout Sweden. As Sweden is quite competitive in winter sports, MTGx expected a significant amount of traffic accessing their various sites, as well as the live stream offered on os.viaplay.se.

Load Impact was commissioned to help execute a series of load and performance tests prior to the start of the Olympics.

Judges said: “MTGx tested several worst-case scenarios for the Winter Olympics, including massive usage spikes, and identified bugs that could have severely impacted the performance of the site. The entry demonstrates the importance of testing way beyond normal thresholds.

“The nature of internet usage today means traffic spikes cannot always be predicted and so everything needs to be tested, re-tested and optimised to ensure sites remain running.”

Best datacentre project of the year

European Bioinformatics Institute, entered by Delphix

Genomic research is one of the most exciting areas in science, and the UK is proudly playing a leading role with the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in Cambridge.

Set to improve efficiency of treatments and cut costs, genomics will usher in a new age of personalised medicine that focuses on treating patients not just by their current illness, but their specific genetic makeup. However, the technological implications of this data-intensive research on datacentre infrastructures are only just being understood.

When the first human genome was sequenced, it took 10 years and cost almost £10bn. Now it can be done in days, if not hours, and costs under £650. However, as this area of life science develops, the amount of data it generates and demands is growing exponentially. 

The EBI is part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and operates as a non-profit organisation providing freely available data from life science experiments to support researchers in academia and industry. 

EBI already holds over 50 petabytes of data in three datacentres in the UK, and this is doubling every year. This means in just five years time they could have well over 1.5 exabytes of data – or 1.5 million terabytes.

To take control of this explosion in data and the accompanying infrastructure, EBI employed Delphix’s data-as-a-service (DaaS) platform. Having already modernised its computing through server virtualisation, revolutionising the data architecture in its datacentres was the next step to cope with the data onslaught. 

Using the Delphix DaaS platform, EBI began a project to virtualise the 500 databases that hold the metadata for genome datasets. This data can be provided as a service to its various teams, enabling each developer to create their own environment on demand without affecting the datacentre processing power or increasing storage requirements.

Judges said: “This is a really interesting project. Not only has a non-profit organisation had to tackle the costly issue of big data analytics and storage, but the project is innovative and forward-thinking.”

Best mobile computing project of the year

Natural Resources Wales (NRW)

The Natural Resources Wales (NRW) ICT team has delivered a complex programme of change and unification of IT systems, merging three government bodies into a single entity, consolidating the functions of Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency for Wales, Forestry Commission for Wales, along with certain Welsh Government functions.

Judges said: “This mobile computing project stood out for its ability to save costs and drive the business forward. A well thought-out project and well-presented entry, which is a reflection of a pioneering team.” 

Best public sector project of the year

Home Office, entered by Equal Experts

Equal Exerts supports the Home Office in delivering the Visa exemplar system called the UKVI Online Application Service.

The Immigration Platform Technologies (IPT) programme is delivering the technology and information to support the immigration service now and in the future. It is delivering three digital technologies:

  1. UKVI Online Application Service: A single online application process for all visa and immigration services.
  2. Case-working Tool: A modern, resilient case-working tool for the Home Office.
  3. Immigration Identity Assurance System: An integrated platform providing a single view of customers and their history.

Judges said: “The Home Office is a deserving winner for such a forward-thinking and creative project. Equal Experts show originality and freshness with their ideas and what the organisation saves as a result.”

Best networking project of the year

Osborne

With an annual turnover in excess of £320mn, Osborne employs around 1,000 staff and several thousand sub-contractors working on up to 90 sites across the UK. Osborne clients span both private and public sector, including critical national infrastructure such as rail, road, health and education projects. The company has been an early adopter of technologies such as building information modelling (BIM), thin client and virtualisation to help streamline the construction process.

IT access for construction sites offers many benefits, but has in the past proved problematic to deliver. Osborne originally covered the site connectivity gap by providing 3G dongles, 3G routers or wired broadband. Osborne found a great deal of inconsistency in this approach and turned to Onwave.

Onwave’s managed service takes advantage of any available access method to improve the performance, reliability and flexibility of IP connectivity. As an internet service provider, Onwave delivers a complete managed service comprising hardware, software and maintenance, and will deliver traffic from each site through its own network, directly into the clients’ datacentre.

Judges said: “A well thought-out project that displays clear savings. The entry is well put together and shows Osborne to be innovative, original in its ideas and committed to getting it done right.”

Best storage project of the year

Amatis Networks, entered by Tintri

Amatis Networks, a UK-based end-to-end network systems provider was in need of more suitable storage technology. It was determined that a scalable private cloud deployment was the best approach for its customers’ environment.

One of its customers’ experienced operational problems on a daily basis in its environment. The customers’ virtual machines (VMs) were crashing during peak times, and the existing infrastructure was unable to support the availability needed. 

Amatis wanted the ability to easily deploy virtual applications and VMs through a web interface and provide continuity of configuration across all sites. Customers were also asking Amatis to take responsibility of the day-to-day management, security and alerting for new environments. 

By taking a simple, appliance-based approach the Tintri system emerged as the best choice for the customer’s environment. The system would enable Amatis to gain an exceeding level of support and engagement from the smart storage.

Judges said: “The savings this project makes reveals what an imaginative and resourceful team has been created through the Amatis Networks and Tintri partnership.”

Best security project of the year

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, entered by Nexthink

Nexthink’s user IT analytics helped deliver tactical and strategic benefits to University College London Hospitals (UCLH) in the first year. UCLH was looking for greater intelligence on the performance and utilisation of IT assets across its managed technical estate to help improve efficiency and plan for longer-term strategic investments. 

In its first year, Nexthink helped the ICT department become more proactive in its approach to the management of incidents, security and rationalisation of the estate, and enabled it to become a more intelligent customer.

Judges said: “This security project is an excellent example of security supporting the business through providing strategic and tactical benefits at the same time as improving information security.

Many information security experts are encouraging organisations to build a capability to monitor, manage and proactively respond to security issues before they become a threat to the business, which is what Nexthink has achieved in this project.”

Best cloud project of the year

The Open University

The Open University Production Portal is a Microsoft Azure cloud-based application used to manage the production of the thousands of hours of audio/video (AV) content the Open University (OU) creates each year for its students and the general public. Every year, more than 10,000 pieces of AV content are commissioned and produced for the university by a large number of external production companies.

Prior to the project, the production process in the OU was ineffective. It promoted duplication of effort resulting in lost man-hours and could not adequately track what third-party assets were used in the AV content.

The answer to these problems was the brainchild of the OU’s Licensing and Acquisitions department. The Production Portal project was launched in late 2013, with the aim of running in time to manage the production of the 2014-2015 academic years’ content.

Judges said: “The Open University had a well-written entry. The project they embarked on was more comprehensive than some of the others. Instead of having just signed up for a software-as-a service offering, the OU’s project showed innovation and creativity.”

Best big data, BI and analytics project of the year

British Gas Smart Metering (BGSM), entered by Qlik

British Gas Smart Metering (BGSM) was founded in 2010 to roll out smart meters to British Gas customers across the UK. So far, the company has installed more than one million meters in homes across Britain, but will install 16 million by 2020.

The logistics behind scheduling engineers to travel and access customer homes and fit the smart metering equipment is a complex process, especially with so many customers to serve. The company decided to invest in its business intelligence and data to help streamline the process and deploy meters more effectively. Smart meters are designed to help consumers monitor and use energy more efficiently and will revolutionise this industry.

Following three months’ proof of concept activity, QlikView was chosen as the platform to deliver the performance view and an element of self-service analysis, while Hadoop Data Lake Platform was used for data storage and consolidation. 

As part of the delivery, the Data Lake now has more than nine billion records available to the customers of the QlikView dashboards delivered by the project and it consumes data from multiple data sources, including more than 150 SAP tables from that source system alone. On average the Qlikview dashboards process files with more than four billion records and fetch 45 million records daily. Using QlikView, British Gas can quickly pull data together into a single application.

Judges said: “This project is a fine example of a truly big data analytics project, with QlikView pulling in data from big and traditional data sources. The QlikView dashboards process files with more than four billion records and fetch 45 million records daily. It has given the management team a ‘single version of the truth’. Smart metering is important to reducing energy usage, and the project has been seen as a global pioneer.”

Best business applications project of the year

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water is the fourth largest company in Wales. The company is responsible for providing more than three million people with a continuous, high-quality supply of drinking water and for taking away, treating and properly disposing of wastewater.

The billing system is vital to the smooth running of the business, as it issues bills to the value of over £800m to its customers each year. It holds the key data to enable it to successfully respond to nearly 800,000 customer calls per year and processes more than 1.1 million meter reads per year.  

In 2012, the company took the decision to replace its legacy mainframe billing environment with a modern suite of applications. The Newid programme was created to manage this substantial implementation. (Note: Newid stands for New Income Delivery - the key aim of the programme is to accurately bill customers for their water and sewerage charges. Newid also means “change” in Welsh.)

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water took the decision to act as the system integrator. After an intense procurement process, the product RapidXtra (from Echo Managed Services) was selected as the core billing engine.

Judges said: “Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water is responsible for providing more than three million people with clean water. Its Billing Replacement Programme (Newid), beginning in 2012 and going live in January 2015, was a large, complex change management programme. Welsh Water was its own systems integrator.

“The programme came in on time and in budget (£33m). Data quality was improved by 44% and technical operating costs were reduced by £400k per year, with a greater range of tariffs now available to help customers.”

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