Guinness World Records bets on Office 365 and AWS to boost business expansion

Rob Howe, director of IT at Guinness World Records, opens up about how cloud is supporting the organisation’s ongoing push to diversify its enterprise

The Guinness Book of World Records is a verified publishing phenomenon, having bought 141 million copies over its 62-year historical past, and three million of these in 2017 alone.


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Each yr, the guide accommodates 1000’s of entries, charting the record-breaking feats and achievements of the human race and the broader pure world, all pulled collectively by a comparatively small, but geographically dispersed, in-house group of individuals.

At the identical time, the corporate has additionally been making a concerted effort over the previous 5 years to diversify its model, and develop its enterprise pursuits past guide publishing, whereas nonetheless drawing on its experience and information of all issues record-breaking.

For instance, the organisation now supplies help to third-party organisations that will wish to incorporate a record-breaking feat into the launch marketing campaign of a brand new product, as a part of its wider advertising efforts.

Behind the scenes, this push for diversification has been underpinned by an overhaul of its inner IT setup, from each an infrastructure and purposes factors of view, that has seen its IT division embrace cloud wholeheartedly.

That consists of migrating 200 of the agency’s workers from on-premise Exchange to Microsoft’s cloud-based enterprise productiveness suite, Office 365, whereas working in direction of transferring a lot of its IT infrastructure property to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud.

“It is the IT department’s job to make sure we can respond to the ever-growing changes within our business model, so we can take up new opportunities and move into new markets,” says Rob Howe, IT director at Guinness World Records.

And sticking with “static” techniques equivalent to on-premise Exchange had been at odds with the corporate’s push to grow to be extra “flexible and dynamic”, he says.

“Going forward, cloud gives us far more flexibility to grow, rather than being constrained, and that’s always my focus – that we have more options than less,” Howe provides.

Particularly as the dimensions of the corporate has elevated steadily throughout Howe’s six years with the organisation. Its company footprint has doubled in that point from three places of work to 6, with websites in London, Miami, New York, Dubai, Beijing and Tokyo.

“It is the IT department’s job to make sure we can respond to the ever-growing changes within our business model”

Rob Howe, Guinness World Records

“We also have people in Australia, and we have someone working in Brazil, and one in Italy and Turkey,” he says. “They might not all work for us full-time, but they are our representatives and need to be kept up to speed, engaged and connected.”

Which is why the transfer to Office 365, which the agency undertook with the assistance of IT service supplier Exponential-E, has been so vital, says Howe.

“We started planning it in July 2017, the actual work started in September and we finished the entire migration in November,” he says.

“We’re still rolling out certain modules, but the actual core of the work was done in November, so it was quite a short timeframe, and was perfectly in line with the project plan.”

The incontrovertible fact that the migration went with out a hitch was all within the planning, because the undertaking was designed with flexibility in-built to accommodate any hold-ups, says Howe.

“Exponential-E are really good at going through things in detail and making sure they understand the business and key dates, rather than just the technology, and from my perspective it was about making sure we understood the overall picture, not just the detail, of what we were trying to achieve,” he says.

“We also made sure there were enough discrete chunks of work built-in that we could chop and change if we needed to, and move tasks around without affecting the overall project because we followed the agile methodology technique of making it discrete deliverables.”

Meeting the temporary

One of the important thing drivers for Guinness World Records’ transfer to cloud was to attain better enterprise flexibility, whereas serving to its geographically dispersed workforce really feel extra linked to every one other. And the deployment has fulfilled each these ambitions, says Howe.

“They all like Skype for Business, which has improved our video conferencing capabilities and reliability internationally, and other people discover it intuitive to make use of, whereas another video conferencing instruments have proved difficult previously,” he says.

Rolling out Microsoft’s cloud-based storage service OneDrive to customers as a part of the transfer to Office 365 has additionally helped cut back the time it takes the IT division to roll out new PCs and gadgets to individuals as a result of the group not wants to maneuver consumer information from one machine to a different.

“We have gone from rolling out one machine in a day and a half to two a day, which is a big improvement,” says Howe. “People are finding it far more useful to use OneDrive, especially when they are in other remote territories, because it gives them far better speeds, rather than trying to connect to a datacentre in Heathrow for shared files, for example.”

The transfer to cloud has additionally coincided with a change in angle inside the IT division, which is now centered on proactively addressing the wants of the enterprise reasonably than reacting to them, says Howe.

At current, the one a part of the organisation’s IT property that’s not being earmarked for migration to the AWS cloud is its improvement atmosphere – however that’s not set in stone. Nor is there a set deadline for the corporate to conclude its cloud transfer.

“It’s something that is in progress and we are trying to get it done as quickly as we can, but because of the scale of the work, we are not constraining it to any deadline,” says Howe.

With the transfer to AWS persevering with apace, and its migration to Office 365 now largely full, subsequent on the corporate’s know-how agenda might be an overhaul of its telephony techniques, with Howe floating the concept of transferring to unified communications.

“At the moment, each office has its own separate telephony system, so the plan there would be to get that into a cloud solution and bring that closer to Office 365 by linking it all together and to achieve unified communications,” he says.

The incontrovertible fact that Guinness World Records’ earlier forays into cloud have gone so effectively has given it much more confidence that the course it’s heading in – each from a enterprise and know-how perspective – is the fitting one, he says.

“The [Office 365] project has allowed us to take a big step forward in becoming more flexible and responsive to the business, rather than reactive and allowing us to get out in front, which is key, especially as we continue to expand and diversify as a business and continue to add new services,” says Howe.

“Every year there is something new we’re expanding into, so it is a key first step, and if it hadn’t gone smoothly, it would have made everything far more challenging.”

Read extra on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)


Publish Date: 2018-07-13 05:00:00

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