Case Study: How Hope House Chidren's Hospice improved data access in its branch offices

Hospice used distributed file system and terminal server to give workers outside the central office effective access to files

When Hope House Children's Hospice in Oswestry, Shropshire, expanded, it needed to examine how it would communicate between offices, says Dave Plume, the charity's business manager.

Plume, who oversees the charity's IT provision, was concerned about how workers in different offices could access data quickly and securely and how changes made by a worker in one office could be seen by all the others.

"We have two hospices, two fundraising offices and a retail office," says Plume. "We also have several fundraisers working from home.

"We implemented a distributed file system through a local company, MWL Systems, to which we outsource our IT," he says. The system allows files to be stored locally in each office, but for any changes to be transferred to a master copy stored on a server.

"We were able to use standard Microsoft technology for this," says Plume. "We looked at other systems, but they required us to have a licence for each user, and this was too expensive. The total cost of setting it up was about £7,000, but there are very few ongoing costs."

Plume says the charity has also introduced a terminal server, which allows remote workers to access data.

"We feel this is a good investment," he says. "Our belief is that even small charities have to spend enough to have good IT.

"We also recommend outsourcing IT management. We've found that having a local company carry out the work is better and cheaper than doing it in-house."

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