CIS has worked closely with the IT department at St Paul’s Cathedral for many years. As both organisations observed, the COVID-19 outbreak unfold across the world. The Head of IT at St Paul’s Cathedral identified a requirement to increase the remote working capacity for the staff at St Paul’s Cathedral, in anticipation of a full-scale working from home scenario.
St Paul’s have always maintained the capability to facilitate their staff in terms of working from home; however, this platform was only sized for the occasional casual worker and was not suitable to support all of the Cathedral staff at any one time.
CIS proposed using the existing Remote Desktop Services platform as a template. We then looked at expanding current remote capabilities by ensuring that all lines of business applications were installed and increasing the capacity of the platform. We achieved this by utilising multiple servers to provide excellent performance and redundancy for St Paul’s Cathedral remote working staff.
Key Solution Highlights & Benefits
Disaster recovery ensures downtime would be kept to an absolute minimum & no loss of data
Innovative Green technology means that waste heat is recovered from the server room & re-utilised
A secure on-site ‘mini cloud’ with replication to the secure CIS Cloud off-site provides added resilience
Security built-in on both local & public networks, with network segregation
More efficient provision of a broader range of IT services to the public & staff
A cloud solution provides the ability to plan & budget for IT expenditure easily
St Paul’s Cathedral has an extensive IT Infrastructure and internal IT team, which in turn are supported by CIS. St Paul’s existing setup was primarily designed to support staff on-site with a minimal remote working capability to facilitate the occasional working from home requirement.
As COVID-19 events transpired around the world, it became quickly apparent to St Paul’s Cathedral and CIS that a far greater number of Cathedral staff would need to be able to work from home in as complete a manner as they would at the Cathedral.
The current Remote Desktop Services deployment was deemed unsuitable for sustaining the number of users anticipated to work remotely, and it was expected that the platform would fail on two key metrics: performance and resilience.
I knew I needed a more robust remote environment, and quickly. Working as a team, collaboratively, with CIS has made the project the success that it was.
Garry Hunter, Head of IT, St. Pauls Cathedral
“CIS is always looking to improve our client’s IT infrastructure when appropriate as we know the positive impact that this can have from a business point of view by improving the end-user experience and increasing their productivity” – Dan Hadland Director of Technology & Innovation at CIS.
CIS firstly proposed utilising the existing Remote Desktop Services platform as a template to scale up and out the remote working capacity for the Cathedral. To achieve this, CIS staff needed to work in close partnership with St Paul’s IT team to ensure the current Remote Desktop Services platform was fully featured and suitable for all staff at St Paul’s Cathedral.
CIS proposed deploying multiple Remote Desktop Host servers that were sized appropriately for the expected number of staff. These servers would be based on a template derived from the existing platform to facilitate rapid expansion if required and ensure all applications were ready to use.
In addition to the Remote Desktop Host servers, it was decided that these be placed behind a Remote Desktop Services Gateway and Broker server to facilitate the load balancing required to ensure the platform was stable and provided the best possible end-user experience.
Finally, to ensure the security of the expanded platform, the entire environment was placed behind Sophos XG firewalls and access limited to authenticated VPN users only.
About St Paul’s
St Paul’s Cathedral seeks to enable people in all their diversity to encounter the transforming presence of God in Jesus Christ. They work with the Bishop and Diocese of London and the wider church, as a spiritual focus for London, the nation, and the world. While free for worship, the building and the mission undertaken within it is funded by paying visitors; last year, St Paul’s welcomed over 1 500 000 people into the Cathedral.