Sector: Professional Services
Technology: Cloud, Infrastructure
Products: Amazon Web Services, Office 365
Services: Managed Services & Support / Consultancy / Software Development

  • Established in 2006 and acquired by Australian mass media and entertainment company Village Roadshow in 2015
  • Opia is a global creative sales promotion consultancy with expertise in sales promotions, rewards and loyalty
  • They have a diverse team of strategic, creative thinkers who have decades of experience with large retailers, FMCG agencies and electronics brands

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The challenge

  • Increased efficiency
  • Flexible scalability
  • Reduced costs
  • Robust security

The solution

  • Scalable AWS environment with Microsoft Office 365 suite
  • Managed services and infrastructure architecture
  • Collaborative, problem-led solution design
  • Working with Opia to plan and execute a smooth roll-out

Darren Harris, Operations Director at Opia, says:“If we had something else we would be continually maintaining, updating, costs, etc. This is almost like a turnkey solution; you go in, put it in, and you can walk away. That’s another benefit of the solution… The cloud today to what it was even two years ago, a year ago, it’s completely different. For me, it’s the way forward.”

The benefits

  • Easy, self-service environment
  • A mix of the best services from different cloud providers
  • Large cost savings
  • Improved employee efficiency
  • Enhanced infrastructure security
  • Flexible scalability
  • Helps to connect geographically separate offices

Darren says: “Microsoft and Amazon, they’ve got the people and the technology to keep their stuff updated and secure. You’ve got to keep moving with it. Plus, it’s not as expensive as you think. If you’re paying pennies now but something might cost a little more, is it worth it to take that risk, or is it worth getting that security?”

Continue reading for the full case study…

 

Turnkey Cloud Solution Assists Sales Promotion Consultancy in Reducing Costs: “People are saying, “This is amazing!”

Who is Opia?

Opia was established in 2006 and is a fixed fee risk managed sales promotion consultancy that has worked with household brand names including HP, Lenovo, LG and Samsung. Clients pay a one-off fee for Opia to run and manage campaigns, and the associated risk of promotions, from start to finish. The company prides itself on its robust data security and fraud detections systems that ensures its clients are in safe hands.

Needs:
Upgrading their Cloud Solution

Opia had grown phenomenally during its first 10 years and needed to review its IT infrastructure. It had implemented a basic cloud set-up with a previous IT provider, however it wasn’t to the standard that Opia needed. The cloud solution wasn’t developed enough to meet its needs and it wasn’t able to grow with the company. Its infrastructure was expensive, and it needed to reduce costs and increase efficiency in a way that would meet the varied needs of the whole business. The big areas Opia focused on moving forward were efficiency, scalability, cost savings, and security.

Finding a New Solution Provider

Opia chose to invite Perfect Image to tender, as around seven years ago, the two companies had worked together on a previous project to develop a piece of software. Out of half a dozen businesses, Opia picked three main proposals for serious consideration.

Darren Harris, Operations Director, says, “There was only one that came back with a true cloud solution and that was Perfect Image. The other two companies didn’t offer that quick scalable solution that we could also manage and maintain.”

Opia also liked the fact that Perfect Image is an end-to-end solution provider, with everything under one roof. It was a benefit to have Perfect Image managing and in charge of the whole solution as any requests or changes or fixes could be carried out immediately, rather than through a chain of contacts.

Darren explains, “Some of the other companies were partnering with server centres or data centres; there were lots of different companies involved. To be able to go to one point of contact and have everything was great.

Solution:
Architecting a Cloud Solution

To begin designing a solution, Opia didn’t provide Perfect Image with a list of requirements that the solution had to have; instead they listed what they didn’t want, and we went from there. From the negatives of the current solution, what wasn’t working at the moment and the issues experienced, Perfect Image architected a cloud solution with Opia to eradicate those problems and enhance the company’s way of working.

Darren says, “It was the right solution for our business. We could see the scalability; we could see the availability – which we had problems with – and the security, which is another key feature of our business. Plus, you’re quite a nice bunch of likeable people!

Guaranteed longevity

Darren says, “We wanted to pick the best solution for the business that would allow us to move forward, knowing where we would be going over the next five or ten years.”

The solution had to fit the company right now, but it also had to be scalable and flexible enough that it would be able to last the duration and to size up with the global company as it grows.

No business interruption during roll-out

Roll out was smooth and uncomplicated, as Perfect Image and Opia took the time to properly organise implementation and how to optimally roll out in a way that would avoid disruption.

On a business interruption level there was none. It was very well planned out, not just from you guys, but from us as well. We’re very aware that, although we build online applications and we know IT, there are a lot of people within our business that don’t, so it had to be very smooth.”

Benefits:
A Turnkey Solution that is Cost Effective, Scalable and “Amazing”

Darren says, “If we had something else we would be continually maintaining, updating, costs, etc. This is almost like a turnkey solution; you go in, put it in, and you can walk away. That’s another benefit of the solution.

Once the design, implementation and roll-out process of the solution had completed, the company was able to run an innovative, cloud-hosted environment that provided the following benefits:

Easy, self-service environment

The company already had some IT specialists that knew about cloud solutions and had experience within AWS and Rackspace. Due to this, they were able to handle more of the management of the environment themselves and not rely entirely on an IT or network provider; the company could be in control of the environment. This was further supported by the technical side of the cloud being taken care of by the relevant provider; Amazon or Microsoft.

Darren says the self-service element was important to the company: “It drove us down that road as well, rather than having to go to somebody and say, “Can you build or create this new server,” and it take time and have a cost attached. We could go in ourselves and manage it if we wanted to.

A mix of the best services from different cloud providers

The company needed a solution that could fit the dual requirements of the two main different areas of the business; half of its employees needed to have physical computers and laptops, and the other half needed to have Amazon WorkSpaces and virtual desktops. AWS provided the Amazon WorkSpaces and Microsoft provided the cloud-based Office 365, and the two elements were integrated together into one seamless and complete cloud solution. This meant the company benefitted from the best services from each cloud offering.

Darren says that since the solution was implemented: “You’ve got the most up to date pieces of software and the most up to date operating system running on the physical kit. It does feel more natural.”

Large cost savings

The company have seen a number of cost savings since the solution was rolled out. Initially there were large cost savings that the company were happy to see, such as Amazon’s usage-based pricing model so the company were never paying more than it needed to.

Darren says, “One of the big areas that we did save money was within support on a top line and we’re potentially looking to reduce that over time as things have now settled down, but we certainly have seen reduced costs. And obviously moving forward as well within AWS you’re only paying for what you use, so that’s a lot more cost effective.”

Improved employee efficiency

Because the environment now runs so smoothly and with automatic back-ups and updates, Opia has its environment organised and working optimally to meet its requirements. Compared to its previous solution, everything runs more smoothly and efficiently, and because of this the company is able to get the most out of its employees.

Darren says that the response from employees at Opia has been positive: “People are saying, “This is amazing.” We know that it has made a difference, that it has sped everything up, and everything works smoother now. I think on the whole it’s great.

Enhanced infrastructure security

A vital feature for Opia was that the cloud environment was safe and highly secure.

Darren says, “The security is there. It’s safe. Yes, there are always vulnerabilities, but these guys, Microsoft and Amazon, they’ve got the people and the technology to keep their stuff updated and secure. You’ve got to keep moving with it. Plus, it’s not as expensive as you think. If you’re paying pennies now but something might cost a little more, is it worth it to take that risk, or is it worth getting that security?”

Opia say that with their new environment, the online applications they are building don’t need to be kept separate from their internal infrastructure as it once did in Rackspace because as Darren explains, their new system, “Just gives more security; it’s the future moving forward. It’s maintained, available and safe.”

Flexible scalability

Opia has grown exponentially in the past decade and on the same trend, it is expected to continue to grow at the same pace in the future. The solution implemented for Opia was scalable with just the click of a button. Opia is open and available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, as it runs international promotions with a UK customer service centre which speaks 22 languages. Due to this, the server never shuts down, but during busier or quieter times, it will shift the processing power to where it needs to be. To do this, Opia will bring in its own DevOps employee to manage processing power.

Darren says, “When we start getting the data through we can report on usage etc. to look at whether we can scale up or down at certain points, or shut down or whatever we need to, that can save us a bit of money. We haven’t got there yet but it’s certainly somewhere where we’re going to go to, which obviously this gives us the ability to do.”

Helps to connect geographically separate offices

The solution also allows for the global brand to better connect its geographically separate offices around the globe by encouraging collaborative work and document sharing using the cloud.

Darren says the cloud solution, “Certainly does keep us all together. Once we’re set up and put people on a laptop, if they give Perfect Image a call, or us a call, then we can get straight on it. If there’s remote access, it’s all set up, we can see what’s going on. It doesn’t matter where you are, or who you are, as long as you can contact us and as long as it gets picked up and if you need to talk to someone, you can, and most things are very easily fixable.”

Would Opia recommend Perfect Image?

Darren says, “Yes I would. From a tech point of view the engineers were phenomenal, they knew what they were talking about and knew what they were doing. From a sales and pitch point of view we were made to feel very comfortable, we were never pushed anything that we didn’t want and it really did feel like a team collaborative working.”

The Future:
Today’s Cloud – The Way Forward

Opia’s plans for the future, as many companies can relate to, are centred on growth. Since its acquisition in 2015, Opia has been able to invest in new areas that it had wanted to focus on. Next, Opia has its sights set on Asia and America, to grow its brand in those areas.

“What we have is a global network where you can be anywhere and using, managing and maintaining. We’re not falling outside of the network because someone is sitting in Italy, America or Thailand; we can give them a networked machine and it will all work. So the continual growth in new areas, not just within the UK but globally, and this solution will allow us to push out but still be safe and secure, and monitor what we need.”

Darren concludes, “Go out and research it. The cloud today – to what it was even two years ago, a year ago – it’s completely different. For me, it’s the way forward.”