Two years ago, West Ham Football Club signed a £1.2 million deal with Ricoh to revamp its IT infrastructure during its move to its new stadium in London's Olympic Park. We talked to the club's head of IT, Mike Bohndiek, about how the move has changed IT use at West Ham.
The main aim in the migration was to replace West Ham's ageing server stock and devices, many of which were running legacy software like Windows XP and Vista. Reducing capex and preventing redundancy were other goals. In response, Ricoh designed a converged IT solution based on thin clients and a cloud-based infrastructure, which Bohndiek described as more flexible, scalable to meet demand and future-proof. He said, "The cloud isn't only here now: it's where the future is going, as well."
Before the move, West Ham had more devices than users. As part of the transition, the club replaced 400 PCs with 230 thin clients, and on-premises servers replaced with a virtual server environment. These thin clients have enabled the club's IT users to be more mobile, working remotely in a way that would not have been possible before the migration.
In the past, West Ham's mobile workers would use laptops with a VPN to connect to the on-site system; but with multiple links in the chain, a single failure could block any work from being done. With the new converged infrastructure, "It's as if they're sitting at their desks," said Bohndiek. West Ham's former managing director, Angus Kinnear, was able to sign a contract on a commercial deal from an iPad last year - in Nigeria.
The reaction to West Ham's increased mobility has been very positive, Bohndiek said. He told us, "We were trying to avoid IT disruption in a disruptive move."
Protecting personal data
For a customer-facing business like a football club, cyber attacks are a constant concern - especially with the GDPR coming into full effect next year. West Ham holds a huge amount of personal data on its fans, and it has taken on an external data security partner to stay safe.
Discussions are ongoing with the ICO to build case studies based on West Ham and its revamp. For example, one may focus on the CCTV cameras in the stadium - video as a data form now being part of the GDPR - and how stadiums in general can become compliant.
The way that everyone works is changing - Chas Moloney, director, Ricoh UK
West Ham chose to work with Ricoh on the project due to the organisations' combined history: Ricoh had been West Ham's printer provider for years before the revamp. The director of Ricoh UK, Chas Moloney, told us:
"It's brilliant and we're hugely proud here at Ricoh that we're able to assist West Ham, a club with such deep history, with our expertise and technology and be part of their journey of transformation to their iconic new home. Both Ricoh and West Ham understand that the way that everyone works is changing and organisations need to adapt to this evolution, whilst also remaining competitive.
"The process we went through with West Ham started with assessing their employees and understanding who they are, how they work and how they share information. We also analysed what technology they use or don't use and what challenges they face, before developing a solution which gave West Ham a flexible working environment that enhances collaboration and productivity."
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