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Upgrading the digital diocese

If you turn on your computer, you can’t avoid reading about computers. Today, technology dominates the news and almost every aspect of our lives, and all sorts of organisations, from banks and telecoms providers to social media sites, have to expend considerable resources on their Information Technology systems to make sure they are robust and secure. Charities too are required to ensure that their IT systems are fit for purpose, although they often have fewer resources to devote to the latest technology.

In the Diocese of Westminster, our small ICT (Information and Communications Technology) team, consisting of ICT Manager Rod de Silva and Systems Administrator Daniel Prasanna, in partnership with external experts, has the task of ensuring that the technology that supports parishes and the departments and agencies in central services is safe, efficient, and cost-effective.

For many years now, the team has been working resolutely to protect our infrastructure from malicious attacks. A key defence here is filtering malicious emails which might damage our systems and individual computers. On an average day between 5,000 and 10,000 such emails are intercepted before they can release malicious software that could harm the entire network.
Our computer system must also be capable of managing the demands of the modern diocese. During the past year, the ICT team been busy upgrading ageing servers that the diocese relies on for the operation of our network and storage of files.

Rod de Silva explains: ‘After six years, it was time to replace our existing four physical servers that were hosting virtual machines but were taking up considerable physical space. We saw this as an opportunity to review the technology to see what new solutions were available to meet our needs. Our technology supports over 200 parishes and a number of departments and agencies, which have grown as more activity and support are offered to parishes and new initiatives are launched across the diocese.

‘The new solution had to be flexible enough to meet these requirements, while at the same time allowing us to act responsibly with respect to our financial resources. Working with our long-term supplier, we identified a solution that is robust, flexible and cost efficient. The new system that was introduced enabled us to reduce a number of physical servers we needed and combine them with virtual storage that does not require physical space. It’s easy to use and requires minimum management.

‘At the same time, it provides better stability, more resilience and flexibility to add capacity as it is required. It also offers full back up which allows us to protect our network and data more efficiently. We can’t budget for unknown growth and capacity. It’s reassuring to know that the solution we put in place will be able to meet our future requirements.’

The work was recognised in industry publication Intelligent CIO Europe which featured as their cover article a report on the implementation of the new Westminster Diocesan infrastructure in their March edition.

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