Helping the Vicinity Group find a new home in the cloud.
With the merger of two companies, Charlie Jackson, Senior Project Manager at Vicinity Group, was given what he considered to be a relatively easy, low key technology project.
Vicinity Group (trading as Vicinity Centres) is a world leader in retail asset management, bringing together two of Australia’s most-established names in retail property management, Federation Centres and Novion Property Group.
“Initially we thought we only required proof of concept around a new Citrix environment as a result of Novion and Federation Centres merging. We hadn’t focused on the Citrix environment for years, so were well aware we needed to upgrade.” However, that simple, initial brief was about to change.
“A rather interesting thing happened. Our CEO Angus McNaughton saw the performance of the current farm and immediately up-scaled the brief. What initially started as a proof of concept ultimately turned into this much higher priority, wider issue for us to address.
- Migrate two businesses into a single system
- Significantly improve the speed of the Citrix environment
- Upgrade and migrate RMS application
The chief complaint our CEO had was that the Citrix environment was deadly slow; it took minutes to log in and pull up emails. Obviously this wasn’t acceptable. That’s when this turned into an urgent high profile project.”
With a myriad of complaints from staff at Vicinity Group about the slow Citrix environment, it was evident something had to change. “At the same time, the Novion guys wanted to upgrade and put the RMS application on platform too. All completely doable with Data Solutions Group (DSG) at the helm.”
“The interesting thing is that both of these builds were separate but running parallel. That in itself was a great achievement. DSG guided us through everything we needed to know when building this second farm. They were very accommodating, and spoke with experience and understanding of what we needed. They guided us and helped us; all the tasks made sense. They were clear and concise in explaining the new contemporary environment as ours was so old and did a lot of necessary hand holding, explaining where there were changes in policy of Citrix and offered solutions. They also had a couple of online tools for project tracking which, from a collaborative perspective, were excellent.”
The DSG team were also consistent throughout the Vicinity Group’s projects. A massive bonus in Charlie’s eyes:
“The people who came into the initial planning meeting were the same people we were with the whole of the journey. This consistency throughout a project is unusual but brilliant. They were there the whole way; a key thing because there’s nothing worse than having to re educate a team and go over old ground.”
The projects for Vicinity Group had a very quick turnaround time, due to the urgent deadline set by the CEO. High-speed delivery was essential, and DSG were more than willing and capable to meet the timelines. Coupled with this, Charlie feels that his team changed the goalposts on the project many times, but Tom and his team were always patient and easy-going about it:
“I have to say they were phenomenal in their patience and resilience with us. I’ve not met a company that has been so easy to work with in that regard. We were literally phoning up one day and saying ‘let’s do it this way’. Then, the next day we’d call and say ‘actually, no – let’s do it completely another way!’ They were very dynamic, but not at one time did they lose patience with us, they simply worked through the changes with us to come up with the best solution.”
Vicinity Group’s cloud migration took 3 months from planning stage to going live. They launched the RMS side very successfully in mid June 2016, and the main centre-based farm launched at the end of June.
“There was no space or time to get it perfectly right due to our deadline. But DSG were there to guide us and were on call to help make it right whenever we needed them. During that first week of launch we managed to get nearly 250 users online – a massive achievement. The team at DSG were there to problem solve and fix issues the whole way so we could go live when we needed to.”
In terms of key benefits of this cloud migration, Charlie believes that there has been a staggering 75% improvement of start up time on email among others.
“Feedback has been unanimous: this new system is much faster, much cleaner, a more logical experience for the user. The whole project has been highly successful and a well-received upgrade and improvement, brilliantly delivered thanks to DSG.”