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April 16, 2014

Google Apps take to the stage at Glyndebourne opera house

But have they made it easier for stage hands to access their emails, schedules and documents?

By Duncan Macrae

Glyndebourne, the 1,200 seat opera house set in the grounds of a country house in East Sussex, has selected Ancoris, a UK Google Enterprise Partner, to provide Google Apps to more than 200 staff, including mail, collaboration, business workflows and storage.

The English opera company, which stages about 120 performances a year, including the annual Glyndebourne Festival in the summer and an Autumn tour that takes the company to towns around England, previously relied on Microsoft Office, Sharepoint and Exchange infrastructure. This setup required dedicated Windows computers to access all the files on various hard drives and servers, sometimes through complex remote connection processes.

Richard Wells, head of IT at Glyndebourne, said: "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 each 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."

As the company grew, doubling computer users to 200 in the last few years, IT resources had stayed the same. As a result, the IT team was spending three full days a month maintaining Microsoft applications, updating software and troubleshooting remote employee issues. With Google Apps a fraction of that time is now spent on support and troubleshooting, and IT staff were able to stop maintaining the on-premise email system.

Google Apps for Business resolved the company’s problems around hosting, mobility and collaboration. The opera house had been running out of storage, fast, particularly managing the storage of performance videos and sheet music. With the help of Ancoris, a Google Enterprise partner, they were able to quickly deploy and migrate all computer users to the new ecosystem. They now store just under 500Gb of digital performance material online with Google using Google Drive.

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Google Apps also helps the team in Glyndebourne headquarters be more efficient and resourceful, according to Wells.

"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," he explains. "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 Google providing email, collaboration, business workflows and our storage needs in the cloud, the 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 Glyndebourne to bridge the creative and operational sides of the company. Allowing them to work from anywhere, anytime so the show goes off without a hitch every night."

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