Fidelity Security Group (Pty) Ltd is a leader in the security industry. Founded in 1957, over the last half-century Fidelity has evolved into the largest integrated security solutions provider in southern Africa. A staff complement of more than 33,000 operates from 55 branches in South Africa, with additional presence in Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

User management and network access had to be provided for each of those offices. Provisioning a single new PC and deploying it to a remote site took up to three days. With acquisitions, migrating the new team took weeks. These lengthy delays had a huge impact on user productivity and significant cost to the organization overall. Support was also a limiting factor – for example, how would the company manage the logistics of swapping out faulty workstations, and at what cost?

To overcome these challenges, Fidelity embarked on an exercise to deploy an in-house virtual desktop solution, but this effort had only limited success. Without national support capability and a suitable management console in place, the virtual desktop solution was never extended beyond the confines of the head office. Regional offices were also required to access servers and applications such as SAP that were hosted at outside the company, with a side-effect of creating congestion on the primary circuits.

Decision based on cloud solution innovation

Unsatisfied with its previous options, Fidelity began to evaluate a cloud solution. After analyzing all possible options, and following an extensive proof-of-concept exercise, the company decided in favor of the award-winning Office in the Cloud solution provided by NIL and Vodacom.

Thin-client terminals were deployed in all 55 Fidelity offices. The solution provides immediate access to the operating system and applications, and it is highly redundant: in case of a serious failure, the Service Provider (Vodacom) can replace the end-user device on the next business day. Productivity is restored (particularly in remote sites) in record time, as new user stations now take only minutes to prepare and deploy.

Applications are also integrated into the Office in the Cloud solution, where they’re easily accessible. End users can deploy new applications within minutes, and they have the freedom to add and remove relevant software as desired.

As of November 2012, the new solution was in use by 80 Fidelity users, with a final goal of moving all 600 users, spanning all Fidelity offices, to Office in the Cloud. The company also moved a whole department to the cloud: an entire multi-screen control room, complete with vehicle tracking maps and live in-vehicle feeds, works exclusively on Office in the Cloud.

“A full financial ROI was done on the overall solution. We compared 200 Office in the Cloud units vs. 200 traditional PCs, and NIL/Vodacom came out tops, reducing our cost per month. The intangible operational cost benefits are also wide-ranging.”

George McDonald, Group IS Manager, Fidelity Security Services

The adoption of Office in the Cloud has brought flexibility to Fidelity’s use of information technology, resulting in much faster running time for end users and a 20% decrease in per-desktop operational costs.

Full support from the service provider

Office in the Cloud uses virtualization technology and hosted applications to bring enterprise-class IT services to organizations of all sizes. With this complete managed-office solution, customers rent everything they need to set up fully functional office technology with lower costs and fewer problems, giving customers more time and freedom to focus on their core businesses. The solution is primarily intended to support businesses by providing enterprise-class IT services that otherwise would be too costly – with high availability using redundant equipment, high performance and advanced security.

The solution is fully integrated with Vodacom’s billing infrastructure, with maintenance tools allowing for fast resolution: in less than 48 hours, an entire new branch office can be set up for the client. In addition, compared to traditional desktop environments, the Office in the Cloud solution comes with a customizable application store that makes it attractive for a broad range of customers from a variety of different sectors.

Office in the Cloud is based on NIL’s Flip IT solution. Vodacom and NIL teamed up in 2011 to fill a gap in the marketplace by offering a complete managed-office solution in the South African market and in broader regions. This collaboration was immediately noticed in the marketplace; in early 2012, Cisco awarded Office in the Cloud the title “Most Innovative Data Centre, Cloud and Virtualisation Project of the Year” at Cisco Live! in London.