The Salvation Army has signed a three-year contract with IT managed services provider Redcentric for a wide area network (WAN) to connect 1000 locations.
The contract, worth £1.5 million, will enable the UK charity and church's staff to connect to an MPLS network, providing access to internal services, such as finance systems and HR.
Martyn Croft, CIO of The Salvation Army UK and Republic of Ireland Territory, said that the network would enable the creation of a 'connected army' that can help the people it serves.
"We had quite a lot of unconnected locations, and these days it's really difficult to do business when you're not well-connected in a network and data sense," he said.
Originally, the charity had a "piecemeal" approach to network connections, with locations connected simply via domestic broadband or fibre. It wanted a more joined-up and reliable network so that the charity could work as one.
Croft added: "We wanted a supplier that was carrier-agnostic, so it would be able to get a connection in difficult to connect areas, for example, Hull or the Isle of Man."
The Salvation Army awarded the contract to Redcentric to provide a network through which the charity could provide administrative services, HR and payroll and finance systems to its 1,000 locations. It uses the Agresso finance system from Unit 4, iTrent HR and payroll software from Midland HR, property management system from Planon and alms.NET fundraising and marketing softwar efrom Westwood Forster.
However, Croft said that the network contract was not simply a matter of providing access to business services.
"It's not just about providing this administrative service any more. It's about building the infrastructure that we can then use to further the mission. For example, can you envisage Sunday morning worship streamed online? Can we get a message or a video clip from a territorial commander to everyone [via the network]?" he said.
The Salvation Army is exploiting a number technologies to enable staff to work more closely together.
"We are a big fan of sharepoint," said Croft. "We use IBM Notes and Domino for email and calendaring."
He added: "We are very enthusiastic about [enterprise social network platform] IBM Connections. It's good to share good practice and to collaborate with people around the world. I'd like to see everyone [in the UK division of the Salvation Army] connected into Connections in the UK. The 'Facebook for enterprise' is a bigger benefit than an email."
The Salvation Army started implementing the network about a year ago, and is now halfway through the installation. It hopes to complete in a year's time.
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