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Royal Navy

The Royal Navy is the nation's renowned senior service, protecting Britain's interests, citizens, territory and economy by always being at the ready to discourage or defeat the nation's enemies with ships, naval aircraft and Royal Marines capable of conducting decisive combat operations at sea, from the sea, on land and in the air alongside the sister services and international allies. The web forms a critical part of its communication network for recruitment and information delivery.

The Royal Navy sails into the clouds with Rackspace

The Royal Navy is the nation’s renowned senior service, protecting Britain’s interests, citizens, territory and economy by always being at the ready to discourage or defeat the nation’s enemies with ships, naval aircraft and Royal Marines capable of conducting decisive combat operations at sea, from the sea, on land and in the air alongside the sister services and international allies.

Technology led
The Royal Navy has always been an early adopter of the latest technology both in warfare and in its communications. In the 21st century it is hardly surprising that the Navy is leading the way in the use of internet technology for its promotion and communication.

Strategic Defence Review
As with all the services the Royal Navy was required to make cost savings under the Strategic Defence Review. Every aspect of spending was subjected to close scrutiny including the Navy's expenditure on web hosting.

Strong web presence
Lieutenant Commander Graham West explained how the Navy has revolutionised its web presence. "We are hosted in the MOD's Joint Server Farm project, which is a Private Cloud solution managed and supported by Rackspace® Hosting.

Graham added, "In the Royal Navy we wanted to add an extra dimension to our website, which caters for all our communications, both internal and external including recruitment, family and community contact. There was a strong requirement for an increase in the use of rich media - this includes video, audio and complex presentations requiring large volumes of server space and rapid online delivery."

Cruising into the cloud
Graham revealed, "Our web team was made aware of Cloud Hosting and we worked with our agency to look at the possibilities of using the cloud as a delivery vehicle for our rich media content; the decision came about as we had particular concerns for our new dynamic home page, which was slow loading media rich pages to multiple users, and thus potentially degrading the online user experience. Our design agency and the Central Office of Information (COI) recommended the use of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) as a particularly cost-effective solution to the problem. Unlike traditional file storage solutions, there is nothing to buy and no upfront costs for cloud storage. You simply pay for the file storage space and outgoing bandwidth that you actually use. This change had the potential to offer significant cost savings."

Cost of delivery
Lieutenant Commander West went on to say, “I was aware of the potential cost benefits of Cloud, and given the success with Rackspace as the hosting provider for JSF, I wanted to be sure they were considered for this project by our web development agency”.

Support is a factor
Graham said, "We carried some basic usage cost analysis. At first glance the proposed solution from Rackspace looked to be priced somewhat higher than an alternative quote. However, when we looked at the detail of the alternative quote, we soon realised that we would have to pay significantly more for any necessary support - an essential component of the contract given the limited technical expertise within the Navy web team.

Understanding and operational efficiency
Graham continued, "I was keen to continue our excellent working relationship with Rackspace, having built up a real understanding and operational efficiency over the previous four years. Everyone at Rackspace has been genuinely Fanatical in their support. It's a really outstanding team. This relationship was perfectly illustrated during a period of real instability last year, when the Rackspace team were able to diagnose the root cause of the problem as a database lookup issue, and with the help of Rackspace network and database specialists, recommended some technical changes which helped speed up the system significantly."

Flexibility and support
Graham summarised "Further discussions with Rackspace led to a final, flexible solution based on a large Terabyte range, but with the added benefit of a fully integrated Fanatical Support® promise. This flexibility and guaranteed support secured the contract. Our digital agency agreed that the Rackspace solution made both practical and financial sense, and took the final direction from us to implement the solution. We have now finalised and fully integrated the CDN into our web solution to manage imagery, video and rich media content."

Ideal partnership
Graham concluded, "The next step for us is to monitor and enhance the user experience by further decreasing page load times and compressing content to reduce the overall cost of the web presence in line with Government directives. The partnership with Rackspace is absolutely ideal for the Royal Navy. The Fanatical Support® cover provides a massive comfort blanket for a team which are not specifically IT trained experts, and we can obtain advice and support through phone or ticket 24 hours a day as well as receiving proactive assistance to help us maintain the site in an optimal state. The new CDN package is being reviewed by the MOD Joint Server Farm as well as the general audience, and is considered to be a blueprint for future developments.

The Royal Navy
For the very latest information on the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy, its news and career opportunities, take a look at the new website www.royalnavy.mod.uk and enjoy the multimedia experience.

Rich media delivery
For detailed information on how Rackspace can help you with large projects involving rich media delivery combined with secure hosting please visit the website at www.rackspace.co.uk or call the Enterprise sales team on 0800 988 0100 for a FREE and friendly chat about the range of hosting and cloud options available to you.