Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Founded in 1956, Opera Australia is the nation’s principal opera company and presents more than 600 performances each year. As well as serving its dedicated subscriber base, Opera Australia introduces thousands of new people to the art each year through innovative productions, such as the now iconic Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour.
A program of transformation
In 2019, under John Horn’s leadership, Opera Australia appointed Rasim Ustun as their ICT Manager. In consultation with the organisation, Mr. Ustun developed a 3-year IT transformation strategy. This was in response to the realisation that the IT and communications platforms supporting Opera Australia had become outdated and inflexible. In addition, the new IT department had realised that its technology service level requirements weren’t being met by its existing managed service provider, with their levels of support falling short of what the company required to ensure smooth ongoing operations.
Essentially, Opera Australia had ‘outgrown’ its existing partner and needed a more dynamic relationship with a strategic IT partner to ensure that ongoing investment in IT remains in lock-step with its business vision.
The success mid-size organisations are having is significantly enhanced if their business vision and IT are aligned. According to Gartner, aligning IT with a business’s strategy is achieved through the ‘five capabilities of alignment’, which focus on great leadership, disciplined IT investment, compelling vision, a continuous 3-5-year strategy, and robust relationships and partnerships.
With Tecala’s support, Opera Australia have been able to turn their IT into a platform for enabling change, which resulted in being able to adapt faster and drive continual optimisations to accelerate business growth, and through the pandemic, ultimately the business’s survival.
Over the course of the three years since Rasim Ustun’s engagement as ICT Manager, Opera Australia had started consultations within the organisation, to understand the key stake holders’ requirements, their concerns, as well as analysis of our employee’s requirements from technology.
One of the main challenges identified by the Opera Australia team through this process was that its existing technology platforms lacked innovation to enable organisation growth. And with research also showing that people in the organisation had very ‘little trust in IT’ and its capabilities, Opera Australia needed a partner who could provide state of the art IT systems and platforms, while delivering support that could earn the organisation’s trust.
Over the past few years, Tecala has been focusing on developing dynamic modern workplaces for its clients. These are environments where the business systems, operations and platforms have been successfully designed and implemented to meet the physical, technological and cultural needs of your people and the organisation as a whole.
With people being one of the most powerful forces for innovation in any organisation, ensuring they receive the best possible experiences from IT starts with connecting with and knowing your employees and clients, and how they operate, interact, communicate and collaborate on a daily basis. From a technology point of view, it then means empowering them with the things they need to do all the above in the most enjoyable, effortless and productive way possible.
“We realised we had to make some significant changes to our infrastructure to ensure it would be able to support our future plans,” says Rasim Ustun, ICT Manager, Opera Australia. “We set about looking at a range of alternatives to establish what would be the best fit for the organisation.”
After examining a shortlist of prospective Managed Service Providers, a decision was taken in early 2020 to sign a three-year agreement with Tecala. The agreement covered a range of projects that would significantly upgrade Opera Australia’s technical capabilities and position it for future growth.
A more flexible, cloud-enabled, workplace
The IT strategy put together by Ustun addressed all aspects of the Opera Australia’s technology requirements, including IT policies and procedures for the organisation, the development of a backup and disaster recovery capability and a robust cyber security plan. Importantly, bringing back innovation to the organisation to enable growth was key.
Ustun says that one of the first projects to be completed was a migration from Opera Australia’s ageing data centre into the Tecala private cloud. “Some of our servers were around 12 years old and so it made sense to move our applications and databases to a modern, best of breed platform.”
Next, attention was turned to upgrading all the company’s devices from Windows 7 to Windows 10. This step was designed to improve performance, increase security, and ensure compatibility with new software packages.
Tecala then moved on to the challenge of delivering a unified communication and collaboration platform. Tecala led with the replacement of a legacy Avaya telephone system with Microsoft Teams. This significantly improved the ability for staff members to manage calls and route them between locations.
“It also gave us the ability to have staff working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns of 2021,” says Ustun. “Without this infrastructure in place, we would have been unable to continue to operate as normal during this period.”
The existing company-wide data network was also upgraded to better handle future growth. Existing equipment was replaced with Juniper core and access layer network, significantly boosting capacity and improving application performance for all users.
“We also deployed a tool that allows the Tecala team to remotely configure and manage user devices. If a home-based staff member is having problems with their PC, a technician can assess the situation and take the steps needed to get it back up and running.”
To provide additional reliability and security, Tecala has also configured a cloud-based disaster recovery capability for Opera Australia. Should an incident occur, core applications and databases can be quickly restored to minimise the impact on day-to-day activity.
2022 and beyond – a modern era for technology at Opera Australia
The modern era requires a business and people management platform that can take advantage of digitalisation in the workplace. It’s essential that this modern workplace platform is unified and cloud-enabled, provides end-to-end visibility, and is accessible to people working beyond the traditional boundaries of your managed network. Early adopters of these solutions are seeing significant advantages in productivity and cost efficiencies, thereby priming their businesses for growth.
With Opera Australia now 24 months into its three-year agreement with Tecala, further opportunities for future projects are being identified.
“Tecala now has a full understanding of our operations and will continue to provide the support we require to keep everything up and running in the years ahead,” says Ustun.
This year will see Opera Australia roll out its SharePoint and Teams governance project that will significantly improve communication and collaboration between the different people at the organisation. Keeping their working environment safe and secure is an ongoing challenge, but a key factor in this is end-user awareness training. So along with multi-factor authentication, a CASB implementation, and penetration and vulnerability testing, Opera Australia will be delivering an on-going end user education project that will keep its people fully informed and supported.
Tecala will also be providing an extension of the Opera IT team for special events such as the popular Handa Opera on Sydney harbour. This ensures additional IT capacity is available for the length of the show and provides ongoing assistance throughout.
Opera Australia is a living, breathing example of an organisation that’s realised the importance of creating a people-first approach to IT. By building trust in IT, providing state of the art IT systems and platforms, and delivering ongoing support from a local team of technical experts, Opera Australia is realising that when you put your people first, they are empowered to show up as their best selves and are supported to maximise their potential and excel in their roles.
“With Tecala, we now have in place a valuable technology partner who will continue to work alongside us as we deliver future performances,” says Ustun. “Their industry-leading technical knowledge and experience will ensure our IT infrastructure remains up-to-date and able to provide the support we require as a vibrant and growing organisation.”