Constantly having staff in disparate locations, Department for International Trade needed to update their fixed systems to enable mobile working, G-Cloud was the exact answer.
“It was vital that we could show we had responded fully to the needs of our users and were introducing a system which was fast, joined up and mobile”
Deputy Director, Department for International Trade
Department for International Trade (DIT, formerly UKTI) sits between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Business Innovation and Skills Department (BIS) and its historical IT reflected this with separate IT desktop systems providing access to both parent departments systems depending on the requirement. These arrangements had served DIT well in the past but DIT now needed to make a step change to their IT.
Core implemented a cloud-based solution to enable DIT to work remotely from various locations around the world. Security was a priority, so the solution was given Official status for security clearance.
DIT’s historical IT estate reflected its position between two government departments, with separate IT desktop systems providing access to both parent department systems, depending on the requirement.
DIT needed to change their IT to become more mobile, so they could operate on a global scale and promote the UK as a brilliant place to invest, a great business partner and help UK-based firms to export.
Their historical IT setup didn’t allow this; communication was difficult, access to web services was hard and computer systems were fixed-position desktops which offered little flexibility. DIT wanted a mobile solution which gave them the flexibility to work anywhere in the world but which maintained security integrity at all times.
DIT also knew they wanted to use Microsoft products and solutions.
DIT used the G-Cloud framework for guidance and to search for potential partners that could deliver their goals. 15 approved companies were chosen and a tender was issued through G-Cloud.
Core were awarded the contract not only because they offered the best value, but because they demonstrated a clear, complete understanding of the DIT IT vision. This technical knowledge and the ability to foresee issues and suggest workaround gave DIT confidence that Core were the right partner.
A cloud-based Microsoft solution, Office 365, was the only solution that could deliver that vision at an investment level that was affordable for DIT. Desktops would be replaced by laptops or Microsoft Surface Pro tablets, so users had access to the entire suite of DIT web services wherever they have internet access.
Microsoft SharePoint was a natural addition for file sharing, so Core implemented a Microsoft SharePoint Extranet configured to DIT needs.
Being the first government department to use a cloud-based solution on this scale, and being an obvious hacking target, security was imperative. Core worked closely with the DIT to meet these security demands, and the system was referred to CESG (Communications Electronics Security Group) for security clearance. The CESG made recommendations about the system which meant it received Official status for security clearance.
“This was perhaps the most challenging element of the meeting the security levels but as an experience it was invaluable for our team at Core, which has learned many lessons for the future”, said Lloyd Carnie, Cloud Director at Core.
Within the two-month deadline, the pilot was rolled out to 100 users operating as far away as Japan, USA and India. In three months of operating the pilot, DIT expanded from 100 pilot users to over 1,100 users in more than 100 countries around the world, and to almost 400 International Trade Advisers in the English regions.
Why move to the cloud?
Andrew Strachan, Deputy Director of IT, DIT:
“As ambassadors for the UK as a business partner, it’s vitally important that the technology we use in our day to day operations paints a picture of Britain as a progressive, advanced nation – a nation you would want to do business with.”
“The cloud system with Core and the Microsoft suite of products has allowed us to achieve that in a very cost-effective manger whilst delivering a host of productivity improvements.”
“It’s interesting to gauge the reaction of colleagues who are not on the system, and all I ever hear from them is ‘when am I getting access?’”