Global Digital Transformation

British Council

Introduction

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. Digital transformation has been a key priority for the organisation for a number of years in an effort to stay on top of the many challenges and opportunities offered by digitisation. A key part of this has been developing more personalised services around the world and meeting the rising global demand for English. That’s where we came in to help.

Not only have we seen a huge improvement in uptime as a result of development work carried out by Ixis, it’s also given us the ability to update and improve our sites in a much quicker way.

Nick Morgalla
Head of Digital Operations, British Council

The Brief

The British Council’s web infrastructure includes a global site, approximately 110 country websites. In 2011, the decision was made to completely redevelop the entire British Council web infrastructure using the open source Drupal content-management framework to enable increased functionality and ease of management.

It soon became apparent that there were challenges in terms of stability and performance of the network of sites. New feature deployments were also slow, impacting both development throughput and the ability of more than 1,000 content editors around the world.

With the Drupal platform up and running, attention turned to a second phase of development. “After a competitive G-Cloud pitch, we contracted with Ixis,” said Nick Morgalla, Head of Digital Operations at the British Council. “We were impressed with their vision for the second phase of our web infrastructure development.”

Solution

Highlights of the project:

We migrated 116 sites in total, and now deliver ongoing service management to containers hosted on infrastructure provided by hosting partner Platform.sh. This system allows the network to share common functionality and development where possible while also allowing individual sites to be updated through their separate containers in a more timely way. 

Additional development work carried out by us helped the British Council to tailor the container infrastructure and set up to suit their site requirements. This agile and bespoke approach means new products and services can be brought to market sooner, while reducing costs and streamlining the overall development process.

We now offer 24/7 Drupal application support to the British Council, to ensure its network of sites remain accessible and secure. This includes regular security updates, development support across the container-based hosting platform and agile change management to allow for a mix of new sites, features and service improvements. 

Monthly service reviews and reports are produced, with regular meetings to ensure continuous improvement and discuss future development plans for delivering the British Council’s digital transformation goals.

The support we receive from Ixis is second to none. They continue to help ensure our infrastructure is capable of supporting our objectives.

Nick Morgalla
Head of Digital Operations, British Council

Results

The new system has overcome the problems associated with production outages and slow development times. Live performance, reliability and availability have also improved, with uptime exceeding British Council targets of 99.9% and average page load times greatly reduced.

The British Council now benefits from an agile development approach that enables better workflow and testing processes and allows development to be scaled to meet the requirements for new functionality. This has included the introduction of e-commerce functionality as the organisation increasingly looks to sell its services through its online platforms, Deployment times for site feature updates, for example, have been reduced from several hours to around 30 minutes per week as a result of development work carried out by Ixis. The project also won the ‘Infrastructure as an Enabler’ award at the 2016 Real IT awards.

Just fantastic. Excellent use of latest tech and business savvy approach

Judges
Real IT Awards 2016

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