VAR Proteo has recently completed an IT installation at River Cottage to improve its ageing computer and communications system.
The client, which is owned by food campaigner, writer and broadcaster Hugh-Fearnley Whittingstall, is based near Axminster in Devon and also has a canteen and delicatessen there and in Plymouth.
With the team constantly on the move, it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain good communications. River Cottage’s main gripe was that the systems which managed the emails and databases for the company had to go through a limited broadband connection at its Park Farm headquarters, causing frequent delays and hold-ups.
To solve the problem, Proteo created a "rich co-existence environment" where key files, backups and services remained on servers at Park Farm, but emails, calendars and diaries were moved to the cloud using Google Apps, allowing River Cottage staff to bypass the painfully slow broadband connection.
The setup is flexible, to allow for River Cottage’s planned expansion both in terms of premises and staff, meaning they will simply have to increase the number of Google Apps licences and supply new starters with laptops or desktops at their chosen location.
Sally Gale, finance director at River Cottage, said: "Park Farm is a lovely place to have a headquarters but sitting in a broadband black hole was causing big problems for our communications. When we opened the Axminster and Plymouth canteens our frustration grew as our email system was very slow. We knew that if we wanted to open further River Cottage outlets, we needed to make some improvements and I am pleased with the solution Proteo installed for us. Although we were fortunate that a recent fire did not reach our on-site servers, it underlined how important it was that we had improved our systems and moved vital services to the cloud."
Dan Simpson, head of client services at Proteo, said: "River Cottage had the same problems faced by many growing businesses but they were compounded by the poor broadband service at their headquarters. As well as speeding up their communications, the combination of a cloud solution coupled with some new on-site hardware means that River Cottage now has a system which meets the demands of its users whether they are in Axminster or Aberdeen. And because cloud solutions are entirely flexible, the system will expand along with the company."
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