Center Parcs were using IBM Lotus Notes / Domino R6.5 across the group for both email and business applications. After a number of years usage Center Parcs concluded that Notes was struggling to support their operational requirements. Within IT there was constant firefighting of Lotus Notes / Domino technology problems which were predominately due to the legacy nature of the version of notes that was in use (Version 6.5). Their IT infrastructure was starting to age and there was a general feeling that they needed to modernise their IT strategy
Within the user base, there was dissatisfaction with IBM Lotus Notes / Domino. Support requests had stopped being raised as staff became resigned to the day to day problems of the system. Users found the platform slow, outdated and essentially Lotus Notes was simply not meeting the requirements to optimize their growing business needs.
With mounting concern over the future of Lotus Notes / Domino within their organisation, Center Parcs undertook an exercise to review and plan their IT strategy for the future. They were faced with the choice of either upgrading their existing Lotus Notes / Domino infrastructure or moving to an entirely new system. Center Parcs wanted a cloud based solution that could provide more flexibility and a unified system that could offer improved functionality. Initially the possibility of moving to Google Mail used by Blackstone (Center Parcs owners based in USA), was considered. However after further consideration they concluded Microsoft Office 365 could offer immediate and long term benefits and would be the best fit for meeting their business requirements.
Stoneseed IT provide Project Management to Center Parcs for their IT department. Polymorph’s previous migration experience contributed to Stoneseeds’ selection to work in partnership with Centre Parcs and migrate their users from Lotus Notes / Domino to Microsoft Office 365. Center Parcs and Stoneseed produced a detailed Office 365 Discovery Report which included a Discovery Workshop to assist Center Parcs in defining the criteria that the proposed mail migration would need to meet. Polymorph thereafter began by providing technical analysis, costing and a deployment plan for Centre Parcs to move 1600+ users across five sites running both messaging and database applications, involving Center Parcs and Stoneseed IT throughout all stages of the project.
Due the scale of the project Polymorph deployed a staged approach rather than a 'big bang' migration. The migration took place on a site-by-site and department-by-department basis with groups of between 50 and 100 users being migrated on a daily basis. Prior to this a testing phase and then a pilot phase were completed in order to detect and address any issues which could have impacted later. Stoneseed IT managed this migration project for Center Parcs concurrently with a Windows 7 upgrade, and during the course of the deployment Polymorph were also asked to assist with out of hours work and support any migration issues during the project and thereafter.
One of the significant changes for Centre Parcs converting to Microsoft Office 365 is Exchange Online and the ease of email access. Users have the ability to work from any site, home or anywhere in the world with an internet link and connect to their email system.
Blackberry mobile messaging was being used within Centre Parcs and therefore was another essential requirement from the chosen platform to retain the same functionality.
Blackberry Business Cloud Services was easily configured and came at no extra cost which added to the benefits of Microsoft Office 365 as well as being a familiar product which Stoneseed and Centre Parcs could successfully support with ease.
Additional advantages from instant messaging, web conferencing, colleague whereabouts information provided by Microsoft Lync Online Services have increased communication and broken down those geographical challenges.
Microsoft Office 365 is a perfect fit for Center Parcs, it has provided a single platform, improving productivity and collaboration with colleagues and have allowed for users to access tools they need to get things done from virtually any device.
The solution is hosted and supported by Microsoft through their Data Centers which aim for high availability with automatic failover and high security. Its minimal training requirements have saved training time across the organization and the well-supported cloud offerings have opened the window to embrace future benefits from SharePoint Online, Office Web Apps to OneDrive Pro.
Center Parcs revolutionised the holiday market in Holland over 40 years ago and did the same in the UK when it opened its first village at Sherwood Forest in July 1987, offering luxury short break holidays on a year round basis. Each village has a wide range of restaurants, cafes and shops. At the heart of each village is the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, with an extensive range of restaurants, cafes and retail outlets, plus, Center Parcs’ own Aqua Sana spa facility.
As a leader in the UK short break holiday market, Center Parcs occupies a unique position enjoying annual occupancy rates in excess of 97% and the name Center Parcs has now become synonymous with the provision of an exceptional, family based, short break experience in a natural forest location.