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Cath Everett

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‘Private cloud’ provides best of both worlds for recruitment firm


Putting sensitive data ‘into the cloud’ is a step too far for many organisations. However a ‘private cloud’ can provide a solution which fits, like this example.

A Scottish recruitment consultancy chose to migrate its IT infrastructure to a private rather than public cloud environment because the level of control and accessibility that the model provided meant it had “the best of both worlds”.
Head Resourcing, which is based in Edinburgh and specialises in the placement of IT staff as well as project and change management personnel, decided to move its core back-end systems into its longstanding internet service provider Lumison’s data centre at the start of this year.
The technology included six servers, a Microsoft Exchange email system and a customer database, which had all previously been located on site, although support was provided by a third party supplier.
Gordon Adam, the firm’s managing director said: “I was a bit nervous of the public cloud because you don’t know where your data is. It’s fine to sign contracts, but your information could be located in the US or Far East and you almost feel that that you’re just a nameless company in a huge mass of technology and data.”
Going down the private cloud route, however, appeared less of a risky proposition, not least because it gave the organisation more control over its data.
“Private cloud is the best of both worlds. You have all of the benefits of being in the cloud in terms of accessibility, but you also have control in that you know that your systems and data are close by. But because you share the hardware with others, there’s a lot more efficiency in terms of costs that our provider can then pass on to us,” Adam says.
Private clouds, like public cloud offerings, comprise IT services that are delivered to consumers via a browser, using internet protocols and technology. A key difference, however, is that, although individual customers may share the same virtualised hardware, their applications and databases run on their own dedicated virtual machine software.
While such offerings are undoubtedly more expensive than public cloud alternatives, going for this option means that organisations do not have to worry about their data being pooled with third parties’ elsewhere in the world as it is all kept separate and in a single location.
But the move to a private cloud environment has also provided Head Resourcing with other advantages. In disaster recovery terms, for example, the firm no longer has to rely on staff members’ taking back-up tapes home once a week for safe keeping or to wait a couple of days for systems to be recovered if they go down. Because its ISP has a mirrored data centre in the south of England, if anything goes wrong, systems and data can now be recovered immediately.
Other benefits, however, include staff being able to access systems more quickly – although the corporate network has had to be upgraded to cope with the extra demands placed on bandwidth – and the possibility of being able to open up offices more swiftly as the company continues to expand. It has grown its turnover from £10 million three years ago to £50 million now and currently employs 50 staff.
“Opening up other offices is much easier in the cloud because you can just point to those offices rather than having to have IT on site,” Adam says.
Moreover, although he believes that it is “probably no cheaper” to pay upfront for upgrading servers every three years than it is to pay longer-term monthly subscription fees, savings do come from reductions in IT support costs and increased staff productivity as a result of having more efficient systems in place.
“Giving people the tools they need to do their job properly is hard to quantify. We had a system that went down for four days last year and it could have cost us a year of IT spend. It wasn’t fully down, but it did slow people down,” Adams says.
And the impact of such a situation should not be underestimated. “If you want to keep staff motivated and engaged, you need to provide them with the proper systems and tools that are reliable and fast. The issue is that if they’re working hard and they find they can’t access a system, it’s demotivating,” he explains.


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