Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger is Richard Wells, Head of Information Technology at Glyndebourne, a 1,200-seat opera house set in the grounds of a country house in East Sussex, England. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.
English opera company Glyndebourne started out in 1934 as an intimate gathering for opera enthusiasts at the founders’ home. Today it’s a 1,200-seat opera house located in the grounds of a 600-year-old manor in the English countryside. We put on about 120 performances a year, including the annual Glyndebourne Festival in the summer and our traditional Autumn tour, which takes us to cities around England.
Before going Google last autumn, we relied on a traditional Microsoft Office, Sharepoint and Exchange infrastructure. This setup required dedicated Windows computers to access all our files on various hard drives and servers, sometimes through complex remote connection processes. It was difficult, stage hands could not always access their email, schedules or documents and often had to use pen and paper to create notes after performance.
Google Apps has changed the way we work since employees can now access their work directly from their mobiles. Our House Manager previously had to email the ushers’ schedule to their personal email accounts. It was a tedious process. Now, all our ushers have their own Google accounts and we can share one roster as a Google Sheet and collaborate in one file.
Google Apps also helps those of us in headquarters be more efficient and resourceful. Each month our general director posts a popular news bulletin online. It’s lighthearted and informative, and great reading material for a coffee break – this meant many people printed it out to read, like a magazine. Now that we have gone Google we simply pop it up on our mobile devices any place, any time with the added financial benefit of paper and ink savings.
With the move to Google our IT staff were excited to be able to stop maintaining the on-premise email system, particularly as our company grew. We have nearly doubled our computer users to 200 in the last few years, while our IT resources stayed the same. As a result, we spent three full days a month maintaining Microsoft applications, updating software and troubleshooting remote employee issues. With Google Apps we now spend a fraction of that time on support and troubleshooting.
Under the old system we were running out of storage fast, including storage for our performance videos and sheet music. You can imagine how thrilled we were to learn that a single suite of products — Google Apps for Business — could resolve all of our problems around hosting, mobility and collaboration. With the help of Ancoris, a Google Enterprise partner, we quickly deployed and migrated all our computer users to the new ecosystem. We now store just under 500 GB of digital performance material online with Google using Google Drive.
With Google giving us email, collaboration, business workflows and our storage needs in the cloud, the IT department has far fewer worries. Staff now spend their time on more meaningful jobs like creating high-quality recordings of our performances and improving our digital presences such as the Glyndebourne YouTube channel. Employees have seen an increase in their ability to focus on our core objective: creating world-class opera. Google Apps helps us bridge the creative and operational sides of the company. This allows us to work from anywhere, anytime so the show goes off without a hitch every night.