In the last 3 years some major changes have been introduced to the Hayfield computing service and I thought it might be informative to advise what these changes have been and why they have been undertaken.
In fairly simple terms here is an introduction to what is available on the Hayfield network, why we have delivered this range of technology to the Hayfield business and what benefits it should be bringing to you as end users in supporting the work that you need to do to provide the overall Hayfield service.
Computers in Hayfield support various roles. Including word processing of reports, database information systems, creating graphics, sending and receiving of emails, accounting and financial reporting, HR recording system, payroll management and of course access to Internet information. In actual fact, computers and their networks are fairly essential tools for running virtually any kind of a business these days and Hayfield is no exception in needing aspects of technology to support it.
As well as the purely business side of computing, Hayfield now of course uses computers in an important educational role, this is an area likely to see considerable new usage in the future.
Hayfields technology delivery is basically split into three main areas.
Firstly, IT Business Administration supports the managers and administrative staff in running the business. They do this by using various software applications to generate documentation, generate and update financial data, manage internal information systems such as human resources and payroll, and maintain internal / external communications using tools such as email & chat software. Web based information sources and tools also provide useful reference sources and methods – such as online banking – to help assist running Hayfield. Some specialised IT services are also used in running features such as the controlled door entry system at Day Support.
Secondly, I.T. Care Support provides the hardware and software for Hayfield care staff to record and review appropriate information for the role they undertake directly with service users. This includes review report writing, incident and medical data input and viewing, financial record keeping and of course email communications and access to Internet resources.
Finally, I.T. Education provides computing based services for service users. Includes PCs for Internet and Skype access, laptop for educational software usage and fairly recently, PC based whiteboard systems.
These three areas basically cover the full I.T. demands at this time. Although it is hoped that in the future this can be extended to a digitally integrated telephone service and possibly some kind of digital signage, but more of that in a future technology post.
In order to provide this technology service the following infrastructure has recently been put in place. A new server room with recently upgraded IBM servers delivering extremely reliable and robust high performance software and storage functionality to every location and user in Hayfield. The servers we are running contain all the data from the last twenty or so years that has been produced and stored on the computers in Hayfield and this is kept safe, secure and accessible at all times. The wider network service is enabled via the Internet, a public but highly cost effective solution. Nearly every employee in Hayfield is provided with a network logon and will either have a specific or a shared computing device to use, as and when they require it.
In order to maintain a safe and secure computing environment, much time and effort is spent on ensuring that there are sound security measures operating and backup practices in place. For instance, data is backed up every 15 mins on the servers and online archives kept of all data for 5 years, all of which is easily recoverable in case something is lost, or a disaster scenario occurs locally. An email management system also secures and archives mail messages long-term, even before they reach the end users. While a sophisticated filter system carefully scans incoming and outgoing emails for security aspects and provides an essential spam reduction service which is currently preventing thousands of spam emails reaching user inboxes each week. Advanced Internet protection software also effectively reduces the chances of users and indeed the business being exposed to inappropriate online material.
As mentioned earlier, the last three years has seen a much more robust, and better performing server structure put in place. Including the upgrading of all the software on the network to more current standards. Additional PCs and other technology has been put in place under the educational remit and this is starting to take on an effective role. Printing hardware has been recently updated and offers some new useful functionality. It is hoped to shortly make available a new communication chat service for internal use. As you will be aware, web development is now very active and will remain so while further development takes place, especially with lots of video based content appearing. In order to allow upgrading of various database information systems, numerous old style computer screens will be upgraded to the now standard widescreen formats. The external network infrastructure links, especially the bits of the network that connect the residences to the primary servers would really benefit from the newer communication technologies that are starting to appear, fibre based broadband, but as of writing this, that option is still unavailable at most of our locations, although I am told change is imminent. Indeed, the care inspectorate have even felt the need to comment on the unpredictable infrastructure performance at one residence. But until there is an external solution that is within our cost reach, we are limited to what we have, regardless of our desire to improve the wider network.
(RECENT UPDATE – I have just heard , as in Feb 2015 that fibre based broadband services from BT are now available at a number of residential locations – this is currently being investigated further.)
I.T. is of course generally an on-going service and continual effort is spent on assessing, developing and improving the user experience as essential business benefits appear and costs allow. As time moves on, there will of course be other inevitable changes to what we currently have in place.
I hope this lets you appreciate what technology facilities we currently have and why.