Azure solution for Debenhams Ottaway Solicitors

Debenhams Ottaway is an innovative, multi-service law firm with offices in St Albans and Radlett in Hertfordshire. The firm, which can trace its roots back 250 years, is renowned for delivering an outstanding client-centric service and award- winning legal advice.

Rightly proud of its heritage, the firm nonetheless constantly evolves the service it offers and invests in the important role technology plays in ensuring it remains a leading, modern, client-focussed law firm.

For individuals, families and businesses, Debenhams Ottaway provides a wide range of traditional legal services including award winning private wealth services including wills, trusts, legacy planning and inheritance matters, as well as commercial property, company services, employment, PI, litigation and dispute resolution.

Pick up the pace

In 2014, Quiss Technology helped the firm adopt cloud services in a drive to improve efficiency and productivity, which would ultimately help them deliver a better customer service.

The strong reputation we have built for delivering comprehensive managed IT services to clients of all sizes across the legal sector and our unrivalled experience of the wide variety of applications used by law firms, was critical in our appointment.

Wright’s switched to a fully managed, hosted IT solution, with their servers moved off-premise and into our data centre in Tamworth. The case management system used by Wright’s at the time would not support a transition to Office 2013, so the firm happily used Office 2010 for the last two years.

We developed a private cloud solution for Wright’s, which offered a scalable environment, built on infrastructure dedicated only to their business and located within England, which is important for many law firms.

Consultants make the pitch

Following a successful competitive pitch in a robust selection process, led by Baskerville Drummond, we then worked with them to execute on the firm’s agreed technology strategy.

We had started our response to the firm’s stated needs through a detailed review of the existing IT systems and infrastructure so as to better understand the motivations for change.

Following the presentation of our findings, we investigated the availability of much larger bandwidth lines into both of Debenhams Ottaway’s offices and found surprisingly attractive options.

The potential to utilise Azure ExpressRoutes helped us devise a solution around providing ‘fat client’ services to the Microsoft cloud, using standard Windows 10 clients and so we supplied a hardware mix of workstations and Microsoft Surface Pro’s.

It was clear from our discussions that the firm would also benefit from adding a modern desktop working environment with Windows 10 Enterprise, Office 365 services, and additional security and management with Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS).

Our solution was shaped by Debenhams Ottaway’s requirement to have as little infrastructure as possible onsite, given the fact that the benefits of remote hosting would improve in the medium term.

Speed a major factor

Having settled on an Azure cloud-based solution, we established an Azure ExpressRoute to reduce latency. This allows Azure to become an extension of the Debenhams Ottaway internal network, removing the need to run in a thin-client setup.

Through liaising with Peppermint, we had already established that by moving the processing back to the desktop, we could dramatically improve the user experience, with document loading times down to just a couple of seconds from minutes.

With Azure ExpressRoute enhancing the new connectivity and our previous experience of delivering similar innovative solutions, we were able to make a smooth transition from an often problematical, multi-tenanted traditional hosted desktop environment.

To Quiss, a ‘cloud to cloud’ transfer holds no fears for its experienced team, having transitioned many clients into managed services, through a structured, customer- integrated approach to planning, project management and governance of the migration.

Quiss consistently impressed, right from their response to the selection process, through to the go-live. The knowledge and availability of Quiss’ leadership team throughout was a real differentiator for us and we look forward to a rewarding partnership with them.Paul Khan, Chief Executive Officer at Debenhams Ottaway

Weekend engineering works

Once all was agreed and the planning was complete, we arranged a weekend migration to minimise disruption to the firm’s business. Our engineers were on-site on the Friday evening to initiate a structured power-down of all systems and services where possible.

The team included a mix of Project Managers, Senior Systems Engineers, Applications Engineers and Senior Network Engineers, with each given a time slot to undertake the work of transferring and moving data, ready for bringing the system online the next day.

There is a well-documented order to bringing systems online or for migrating them into an available infrastructure; typically this is a mix of manual and automated data transfer. Completing the majority of this work on the Saturday allowed time for testing and resolution of any issues on Sunday.

By the time Debenhams Ottaway’s users arrived for work on Monday, the only evidence of our busy weekend was a new IT platform, fully available, tested and working significantly faster than previously.

Once again, Quiss Technology had proved that a little lateral thinking with forward thinking clients such as Debenhams Ottaway, Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and our Qworks solution, incorporates everything a law firm will need from both an operational and strategic perspective.

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