Cloud technology helps Raby Estates overcome challenges of coronavirus lockdown

A traditional landowner who can trace his lineage back hundreds of years has brought the business firmly into the 21st century following a major overhaul of its IT infrastructure.…
Raby Castle’s curator, Julie Biddlecombe-Brown, demonstrates the agility of remote working

A traditional landowner who can trace his lineage back hundreds of years has brought the business firmly into the 21st century following a major overhaul of its IT infrastructure.

The 12th Lord Barnard, supported by Darlington-based Bondgate IT, has been upgrading office-based pcs for laptops operating Microsoft 365 over the last 18 months, which has given staff the ability to work from any location.

Work to update Raby Estates’ IT infrastructure has been underway for over a year as the entire Estate moved from paper-based processes and a DOS based accounting system, to cloud based agile technology. The final deployment of Microsoft Teams was completed just 24 hours days before the current coronavirus restrictions were announced.

Fortunately, everything was in place to give its staff the ability to work from anywhere with an internet connection, giving them access to email and files and collaboration from their devices.

Bondgate IT moved all Raby users to Microsoft 365 and SharePoint allowing employees to access all their information from the cloud. Microsoft Teams was used to facilitate video conferencing, internal collaboration on documents and instant messaging. For members of staff who needed to remotely access systems in the office a Virtual Private Network (VPN) was created.

Lord Barnard, owner of the medieval family seat of Raby Castle, near Staindrop, runs extensive estates across County Durham and Shropshire.

Katrina Appleyard of Raby Estates said: “The updated IT system has certainly proved its worth following the introduction of the coronavirus restrictions, allowing the business to continue to function while our staff stay safe.

“We trialled Microsoft Teams just before moving to remote working which has proven to be key in our ability to stay in touch and facilitate remote working.

“The whole system is working. With Microsoft 365 our staff can access the necessary files easily and efficiently and communicate with other colleagues many miles away. Everyone has been amazed at just how simple it has all been.

“This has allowed us to bring a traditional business based on agriculture, property and tourism into the 21st century and we are grateful it was all in place to help meet the challenges presented by the current restrictions – giving staff the ability to work from home or from a remote location.

“Bondgate IT have advised and worked with us every step of the way and I can’t praise their expertise and support too highly.”

Garry Brown, managing director of Bondgate IT, said: “Lord Barnard recognised the strategic importance of IT to Raby Estates’ and followed our recommendation to utilise cloud technologies and embrace mobility.”

“Any business should consider security of data to be a big focus. Raby have increased their protection by implementing our multi-layered security stack.”

“The overall project is quickly paying dividends and is proving its capabilities during the current lockdown situation. Going forward it will support the business through cost savings and greater operational efficiencies.”


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