Many businesses have distributed office environments but very few have offices that travel the high seas. But at Fred Olsen Ltd that's exactly what their IT staff have to contend with.
The company, founded in 1848, has several business units, ranging from shipping and oil and gas, to renewable energy and cruise holidays. It is the last business in this list that poses the sea-based challenges, with four ships that travel from the fjords of Norway to the shores of Australia.
For Damon Impett, IT director of Fred Olsen Ltd (pictured), this poses some tricky tech challenges, not least the fact that the satellite connections the ships often have to rely on when at sea are hardly the fastest.
"The V-Sat connection on a ship was 800KB, which was for everything, corporate services, WiFi for guests and so on. That has increased to 3Mbps but it still poses challenges," he told V3.
While its ships have slow connections the 20 or so offices in the UK, ranging from its head office to small travel shops, are less encumbered. As such, Impett has taken the firm on a hybrid route mixing cloud and on premise services.
"Not everything works well in cloud and even when it does work well in cloud it can be expensive, so I think any strategic thinker must focus on the hybrid route."
Specifically this means the firm has some services like OneDrive and Skype for Business in Azure while others are in AWS while other key services, such as Office 365, remain on premise deployments.
However, Impett thinks it's inevitable that cloud use within the business will increase, not least because it is likely Microsoft will want to push this method of delivery over on premise services.
"I suspect we will go Office 365 in the cloud on our next round of upgrades, possibly because Microsoft may in time stop offering on premise, or offer it at a price point where we'll have to jump ship anyway."
As noted, though, Impett and his team don't just have the cruise business to manage, but also have to keep a tight rein on the devices used across all eight Fred Olsen businesses with a presence in the UK.
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