SoftwareOne case study

SoftwareOne successfully take Royal Society of Chemistry on their journey to the cloud

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The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) is a 180 year old not-for-profit organisation with a mission to advance excellence in the chemical sciences. With over 54,000 members across the world, an internationally-renowned not-for-profit publishing and knowledge business, and a reputation as an influential champion for the chemical sciences, the RSC plays a crucial role as a catalyst for the chemistry that enriches our world.

With over 650 staff, plus partners, associates, and affiliates globally, equating to over 300,000 experts and contributors, the RSC also support education into schools, colleges, universities, and research facilities as well as working with government to set scientific policy.

The Royal Society of Chemistry logo
The Royal Society of Chemistry
Journey to the Cloud
United Kingdom
SoftwareOne have been critical in delivering both the CCoE to underpin the designs, processes and governance for our cloud capability, as well as helping us build a secure, stable and scalable AWS platform for our cloud migrations and operations moving forward. This has given us the ability to rapidly modernise and innovate our applications, as well as invest in the training and skills for our staff needed on our journey to cloud and DevOps maturity.

Chris Callaghan
Head of DevOps, The Royal Society of Chemistry

The challenge

RSC’s IT estate had remained stable but growing, hosted on over 500 Windows servers, and housed across multiple physical datacentres. All research papers, documents, and other data, accessed by interested parties across the world, is processed and maintained on this equipment. With tens of thousands of research submissions supporting the publication, dissemination and archiving of this research material, thousands of researchers are accessing this content from across the globe at any given moment in time, leading to an increasing demand for both storage, processing, access and stability.

A significant part of the RSC’s IT estate had reached (or exceeded) end of life, creating ongoing supportability challenges and technical limitations, and restricting their capability in meeting the needs of their customers and their business. In view of these limitations the RSC’s Technology leadership team concluded that a large-scale migration to the Public Cloud is the most practical and financially advantageous next step. This decision was followed by an evaluation of all three main Public Cloud providers, which resulted in the selection of AWS.

The solution

As it charted its transition to AWS, RSC set out a clear success criterion which was the optimal and full adoption of AWS not only by IT, but by the entire organisation. From early in the project, the RSC set out to ensure that AWS was adopted using best practices and was fully leveraged to bring real advantages and benefits to Business Operations, Product Development, and Innovation, as well as IT.

SoftwareOne proposed the creation of a Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE), that would holistically address the RSC’s concerns on:

  • IT roadmap development, delivery, and governance
  • IT and business operational changes (such as DevOps)
  • Training, re-skilling and human resource change management
  • Product innovation
  • Finance & purchasing

SoftwareOne recommended using AWS and industry best practices, Frameworks (such as AWS Cloud Adoption Framework and Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT)) to fully and effectively manage the overall change that the successful adoption of AWS would require.

Transitioning the entire business from a physical hosting model to a Cloud model on AWS meant transforming the skills and operational model of the organisation, hence the need for a CCoE approach, to put cloud and a DevOps approach as a central pillar in the company’s operational model.

SoftwareOne clearly articulated to the RSC the challenges that the AWS transition would pose, alongside the benefits that the creation of the CCoE would bring in maximising such a significant investment in adopting AWS.

SoftwareOne’s strong knowledge and capabilities in AWS, coupled with the experience, skills, and ability to guide customers through the whole journey of Public Cloud adoption and in all aspects of such a journey (not only technical) identified SoftwareOne as a suitable partner to help the RSC establish and operate the CCoE. SoftwareOne’s predefined CCoE offering, that ‘timeboxed’ focused activities and the overall process right from the start, resulted in a cost-effective, quality and deliverable’s driven project execution, would enable the RSC to set up and operate a CCoE in support of the AWS adoption with razor-sharp precision incredibly early in the programme.

To understand the “As-is” status of the organisation and the “To-be” vision, in support of the CCoE creation, and to ensure the transformation would deliver maximum benefit to the whole organisation, SoftwareOne undertook a unique and comprehensive benchmarking exercise based on industry-leading standards-based operational audit tools.

Results delivered

SoftwareOne’s operational audit and benchmarking of the RSC highlighted several key focus areas for the CCoE where improvement could be delivered as part of the technology transformation. Improved ways of working were identified and proposed, ensuring the change and transformation process required for the successful adoption of AWS would be smooth, yet deliver tangible, measurable operational improvements and efficiencies plus a stable platform for continuous improvement.

The CCoE created a clear vision of the IT Roadmap, the governance, skills and high-level plans required to ‘travel’ on it and the best practice processes required (such as DevOps adoption) to make the journey a success. Aligned to this vision, the CCoE identified the opportunities for improved business and IT alignment, requirements for process change, as well as areas of business innovation that could be supported by the new IT capabilities alongside needs for training and upskilling together with specific training and certification plans, required for such a notable change.

Having completed the CCoE preparation work, the RSC engaged SoftwareOne to manage and undertake the migration of the first physical datacentre to AWS. Whilst the plan for this migration was a complex one, its duration was significantly optimised due to the existence of the CCoE. Furthermore, CCoE’s presence managed to significantly reduce the risks of execution of this migration, ensuring timely execution according to plan and on budget.

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