According to Castleton Managed Services Managing Director, Paul Sexton, on premise IT infrastructure will be obsolete within 5 years and every business will be operating in the Cloud. This has clear implications for Housing Associations not currently considering moving to the Cloud, yet in a recent survey only 50% of respondents said they had a clear Cloud strategy and were on track to delivering. Now is the time to start planning the journey, he says.

Most people are familiar with the public Cloud – hosted by hyper-scale providers like Microsoft and Amazon Web Services and many may already use it for applications such as Office 365. However, although the public Cloud is massively scalable, it is not particularly flexible in accommodating individual business needs, it doesn’t cater to SLA agreements, is US based and presents an attractive target for hackers, making it less secure than on premise infrastructure.

A better option for housing associations is a private Cloud, such as Castleton’s, which offers large-scale infrastructure with high availability in terms of internet service, much greater data security and the same benefits of being scalable and cost-effective – the Opex model means no capital outlay on equipment required, and an agreed regular spend based on per user per month helps with building budgets. The private Cloud is also very flexible allowing you to shrink or grow the service according to your needs, paying only for what you use.

Castleton’s private Cloud – designed for and dedicated to the housing sector, hosts customers’ data, as well the software applications we provide, safely and securely on Castleton owned equipment at UK based data centres. It allows housing associations to set their own service level agreements, provides more flexibility and control, and makes data recovery much simpler, avoiding costly downtime.

We can either host your entire infrastructure in our Cloud, or in most cases, we provide a hybrid solution whereby applications such as Office 365 remain the public Cloud and sit alongside managed services in the Castleton Cloud. It makes sense to store email in the public Cloud rather than eating up valuable storage space with large mailboxes, but use Castleton Cloud to host key applications such as housing management, CRM, HR and finance.


Benefits for Registered Housing providers

By outsourcing management of your underlying infrastructure to a managed service provider like Castleton, you can free up the valuable resources of your in-house IT department to focus on your business applications, which will drive transformation.

In our recent survey 90% of respondents in the social housing sector reported that their IT departments had ‘little’ or only a ‘moderate’ amount of time to focus on strategy and new technology – and this is the crux of the matter. Housing Associations with on premise servers find that their IT department resources spend half the time managing the infrastructure and the other half developing business systems. As a result, they can’t roll out business transformation as quickly as they should because they are spending time on areas they don’t need to. Moving to the Cloud takes away that pain and removes the limitation on business development.

Digital transformation is a key priority, driving investment in the sector, as Housing Associations try to bring more services online to meet tenants’ needs; such as paying their rent or booking repairs from the comfort of their own home on their mobile device. Being in Cloud enables you to support these services with the latest Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, such as Castleton’s .Digital, which are hosted in the Cloud by default. It also allows remote workers visiting tenants the ability to access your systems and data from anywhere.

Moving from on premise to a cloud server environment is a complex process requiring the skills of experienced technology experts able to design a fit-for purpose solution and guide the organisation and its users through migration to a hosted environment. Castleton’s team of consultants and technical architects work alongside you throughout the process, ensuring the transition is as seamless and pain-free as possible, and staff are fully trained in their new environment minimising downtime.

Pressing the button

Once you decide to go ahead, we can help you prepare a map of how to get to the Cloud, including initial steps, design, transition and post implementation support. We will need to understand your business drivers for moving to the cloud, review your current systems and infrastructure, and will assist in identifying potential pain points. Once this scoping exercise is complete and meets your business requirements, we will discuss the various technical solutions available and recommend the best route forward.

The costs and timescales associated with moving to the cloud vary considerably and largely depend on the size of the organisation, as well as the scale of the project. We deal with customers with 5-10 users and others with up to 500 users; whatever our customer’s requirements, we see ourselves as partners rather than suppliers. We provide support throughout and beyond the migration process, including ongoing management of the platform, with monthly performance reports providing valuable management information. Even when you’re in the Cloud, you won’t stand still – our Technical & Account Management team will review and recommend the best new solutions and new software products to support your continued business transformation.

Don’t be left behind!

Fears about data security and the cost of moving to the Cloud are misplaced. Data is more secure in a
private Cloud than a public Cloud and is safer on a data recovery basis too. The data remains yours and can be accessed whenever and wherever required.

While there is a cost to migrating to the Cloud, moving to an Opex model makes it affordable, transparent, easy to manage and cost-effective. Castleton will keep your infrastructure running efficiently and fit-for purpose and up to date, enabling you to reap a good return on investment; by releasing your in-house IT resource from maintenance and fire-fighting.

Alongside accelerating adoption of the Cloud in this sector, businesses like technology developers and Castleton are increasingly focusing their software development strategy on delivering cloud-first applications; that are hosted by default; By embracing the Cloud, Social Housing providers can future proof their technology, deliver digital services and achieve real business transformation.

To help organisations plan their Journey to the Cloud we are hosting a 30 minute Webinar on Nov 15th at 3pm. To find out more or to book your place, click this link.