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Breaking the IT CAPEX cycle

Window Virtual Desktop has helped one firm of chartered accountants move business-critical applications to the cloud

Sussex-based Microsoft partner Extech Cloud boasts that it is able to move almost any server-based, business-critical application into the public cloud, enabling clients to take full advantage of the benefits offered by Microsoft 365 and the Azure platform, including cutting edge security and exceptional levels of performance.

Andrew Hookway, Managing Director of the Burgess Hill-based firm, said: “When we talk about the cloud, we mean all IT in the Microsoft Cloud environment, not just putting files on OneDrive and email within Office365, but all business-critical applications too. With this approach, there aren’t any onsite servers to manage, firms only pay for what they use and staff can work from home more effectively.”

Extech Cloud has been pioneering the use of Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) as an alternative to using virtualisation software to access business-critical applications hosted in private data centres and, in doing so, is helping to free customers from expensive hosting costs and virtual desktop licences.

According to Hookway, WVD is suitable even for workloads that traditionally haven’t been appropriate for cloud, like CAD and video editing.

One company to benefit from this approach is Richard Place Dobson Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors (RPD), which recently moved 16 pieces of legacy software into the cloud with Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD). These include IRIS Tax Expense, Share Register, Tax Expense, Star Payroll, IRIS Accountancy Suite, CCH Central, CCH Audit Automation, Sage Line 50 (24, 25, 26) and Office.

When RPD first approached Extech Cloud, its IT system was fragmented and the slow VPN performance was proving an increasingly frustrating experience for staff. In addition, with Windows 7 end-of-life imminent (in January 2020), the firm was facing huge upgrade bills for its database software and other applications.

“RPD was facing tens of thousands of pounds of licensing costs alone, so we stepped in with a completely new cloud-based approach to help break the IT CAPEX cycle,” explained Extech Cloud CTO Richard Phillips. “Our team audited the whole IT infrastructure and assets and then spent six months modernising verything, including all the user PCs and laptops.”

Improved performance
Staff stopped using the old on-premise system and the next day simply logged in on the new system and carried on working, with greatly improved performance.

“Extech Cloud has designed a hosted desktop solution that works with all the range of software that we use and is a lot faster and easier to use than our old system,” explained RPD Director Karen Corduff.

Now, application updates don’t need to be conducted on every single workstation; staff have access to systems even in a web browser or tablet; legacy systems have been enhanced with modern security mechanisms, such as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA); usernames and passwords for office PCs and applications in 365 have been unified; and more efficient processes have been developed.

For example, Excel was previously used over the on-premise network, with documents being updated by multiple staff. This led to regular file corruption. Now, the RPD team collaborates on Excel files through MS Teams, giving stability and a more efficient workflow.

www.extechcloud.com

2018