Centrered migrates mission-critical server infrastructure, helps DJAS Architecture into the Microsoft cloud
With a business-critical server approaching end-of-life, Canberra-headquartered DJAS Architecture looked to a growing relationship of trust with its managed services provider Centrered for advice and options for joining the Microsoft cloud. The resultant solution combines some elements of an on-premises infrastructure with SharePoint and other Microsoft services. The hybrid solution supports easier collaboration and communication between branch offices, while establishing a flexible platform capable of meeting various future growth and development ambitions.
Founded by Daryl Jackson and Alastair Swayn in the 1980s, DJAS Architecture has been instrumental in shaping Canberra’s urban landscape with remarkable projects like Brindabella Business Park and Majura precinct. With a reputation for delivering top-notch design-based architecture, the interdisciplinary team of professional architects, urban planners, interior and graphic designers collaborate closely with clients to craft creative, cost-effective, and quality-driven solutions, showcased by a diverse portfolio. DJAS Architecture has offices in Canberra, Brisbane and Armidale.
After a successful onboarding with Centrered, DJAS Architecture commenced Project Cloud. COO Kylie Ochsenbein says ” With the server at end of life, we had a non-negotiable infrastructure upgrade deadline, so I knew that now was the time to also move to the cloud”. Kylie knew it would be a disruptive and sensitive project, but had been delaying making any decisions due to a lack of confidence in their previous provider. The impetus to move ahead with this project came from the growing trusted partnership between her and the CR team. “CentreRed were confident with their advice, recommending a Hybrid solution. They knew we needed an on-premises capability for archives and high-security projects, and then the other elements like Autodesk would be critical moving our construction documentation to the cloud. Taking full advantage of Microsoft 365 and SharePoint for correspondence and business management was also a key part of this change.” The practice of architecture involves using large collaborative files which explore different forms and materials in Revit and other CAD based software. The complexity of the design and documentation process placed significant constraints on what was possible for DJAS Architecture’s ICT landscape.
Courtney Walmsley, DJAS’ Architectural Technology Manager says “We work and collaborate in large files which require fast and regular syncing so that designers can see updates in real time. Our hardware and networks needed to be able to support our software requirements. Moving to the cloud gives us the flexibly of working remotely, but it was really important that we did not compromise on efficiency or our ability to collaborate.”
Another key performance outcome of the changes and was to improve efficiency and better access from their remote and home offices.
Moving across to Centrered from their previous service provider gave DJAS the confidence to move ahead on the project and prepare for the future. “When we shifted our Business-as-Usual support to Centrered, we quickly appreciated the way they communicated with us, questioning our reasons and rationale for moving, and advising on what was best from a technology standpoint.” Courtney said.
The work delivered included installation of new ‘scaled down’ on-premises infrastructure and backup, a business-wide cleanup of excess obsolete equipment and services, and the establishment and configuration of SharePoint, Azure Active Directory, InTune and other Microsoft 365 services. A standard image for every company computer was created, allowing for rapid replacement or new device issuing. Crucially, security services were configured in alignment with Essential 8 principles, while reliance on VPN access to ‘home base’ powerful PCs is reduced, using zero trust measures in the Microsoft cloud.
SharePoint and Azure Active Directory were then paired with the Autodesk Construction Cloud providing the cloud infrastructure to support the technical side of business.
Working directly with the Centrered team, Courtney praises the rigour of the technical approach. “The Autodesk Construction Cloud was new for both teams, however our relationship and strong communication meant that solving new problems was collaborative and quick. There were a multitude of unique server-based settings, parameter files and libraries that would operate differently in the cloud. We needed to test different set ups and rollout these changes slowly so we didn’t affect productivity or client deadlines.”
With the old server retired, DJAS Architecture is confident that their day to day productivity is well protected. Project Cloud has refreshed on premises infrastructure, slimmed down to only what they need, along with implementing a robust cloud platform setting it up for the future.
Collaboration and file sharing has improved with SharePoint and Autodesk Construction Cloud, while the combined power of Microsoft 365 and Windows features like Hello for simple sign in, means their reliance on VPN connections to remote devices is vastly reduced, with remote offices working more independently than ever.
“Our people are still adjusting to working in the cloud, and the new file structures that were implemented along with it,” admits Courtney, “But that’s an inevitable change management reality. What’s important is our security is more streamline and reliable, and we’re moving towards our vision of a contemporary ICT environment which supports an agile workforce. Autodesk’s rolling upgrades and expanded integrations are really well aligned with our new ICT environment, further enabling our ‘continuous improvement’ approach to workflow processes, with renewed confidence in our infrastructure”
Kylie and Courtney share a vision for the future, where DJAS people can effectively work anywhere, anytime, and on any device, with maximum convenience. “The cloud approach enabled that and the advice provided by Centrered confirmed that this is the way towards an agile workforce, with only some elements remaining on the onsite server. For everything else, the capability is there, and as time goes on, we expect to develop and further leverage the Microsoft cloud platform alongside Autodesk.
“Thanks to Centrered, we’ve established great foundations and, coupled with our trust in the partnership with them, we are confident that we can respond quickly to whatever the future holds.”
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