A lag in data transmission was causing issues at not-for-profit employment and training provider, MTC Australia, until it embarked on a data centralisation project.
MTC Australia CIO, Branko Ceran, who has been in the role for a year, was tasked with an IT transformation. "We had a lot of outdated technologies and infrastructure so we changed our enterprise resource planning [ERP], finance and collaboration platforms," he said.
According to Ceran, this placed increased pressure on its network and Internet traffic. "We looked at ways we could best optimise that network. We are a not-for-profit so we don't have as much funding as our corporate counterparts."
After reviewing several providers, MTC selected a Riverbed Granite edge virtual server to give employees in 32 branch offices local area network speeds over a wide area network. This also allowed the company to centralise data into one data centre based in Melbourne. The deployment was completed at the end of July.
"Our branch sites were way behind in terms of network speeds so we upgraded the bandwidth. What we found was that some sites were 50 times faster than before," said Ceran. "Because of the Riverbed technology we also have very low latency."
In addition, MTC has improved its disaster recovery capability. If the centralised infrastructure does fail, the branch sites can operate using data cached on the network. Once the infrastructure is up and running, it will synchronise that data back.
"All of our data is available from one place so it makes reporting a lot easier," Ceran said. "As a result, we have introduced a Microsoft business intelligence [BI] solution."
The organisation is using BI to make better decisions and access timely information. "It used to take us weeks to pull together information and now we can access some data in real time," Ceran said.
"We have an education training division and a job seeker employment service. All of this information is in a data warehouse. We can now fine-tune those dashboards for staff to look at."
Most files are hosted in the cloud through a Microsoft Office 365 environment, which was deployed in April.
"We were looking at the next major refresh of our hardware and software but this would have placed a massive strain on the network," Ceran said. "We looked at what would be the most economical way to get better value for staff and clients."
MTC uses SharePoint as a collaboration tool. Because it is aligned with Riverbed's Steelhead cloud accelerator, this has optimised content in the cloud for the organisation.
Now that the data centralisation project is complete, Ceran will be replacing MTC's PABX system with the Lync voice over IP offering to all 32 offices. "We will be able to do all of our telephony, video conferencing and instant messaging using this system," he said.
"We used to meet face-to-face but now we can just do it via video conference -- it is much faster and cheaper."
The next thing on the cards is business process management, which will lift the capability of the organisation. "Some divisions have good processes and others don't so we want to improve process maturity," Ceran said.
While all these technology evolutions represent product and operational efficiency, simplifying IT is a complex process which takes a lot of work, he commented.
"Changing behaviours and educating staff is one thing but at the end of the day, it comes down to the network being able to access information kilometres away as if it were in the next room," Ceran added.