Sydney Living Museums (SLM) cares for a group of 12 of the most important historic houses, gardens and museums in the state on behalf of the people of New South Wales, Australia.
First established in 1980, Sydney Living Museums has continued to bring iconic sites in NSW to life through dynamic and diverse programs, exhibitions, research and events. It currently employs about 250 staff, and is supported by over 500 volunteers.
Outdated technology was resulting in extreme difficulty securing extensive online collections and back office functions. Lack of full server-state backups meant recovering a server was a very involved, time-consuming process. Systems slowed as the backups ran over their window, ultimately impacting visitor experience with slow transaction times. If front-ofhouse systems were not available or performing well, it affected revenue and process controls.
Sydney Living Museums (SLM) is responsible for a group of 12 of the most historic houses, gardens and museums in New South Wales. With properties such as Vaucluse House, Hyde Park Barracks Museum and Museum of Sydney in their charge, the work of SLM means that anyone can experience some of the most dynamic history the state has to offer.
Previously known as the Historic Houses Trust NSW, the organisation’s core principle is to allow people access to these cornerstone properties to learn and enjoy from the state’s rich history. They are also responsible for sharing an extensive collection of online resources and historical material, ranging from catalogues of printed material to images and AV material, and all with associated metadata.
Protection of these digital assets and business systems is critical. With such an enormous task at hand, SLM began to struggle due to outdated technology systems that slowed everything down; most significantly, the backup recovery processes. Everything from back office functions, to online collections and even daily visitor transactions were being impacted by ill-fitting processes. This not only made them vulnerable but impaired their ability to provide the quality visitor experience they desired both on and offline.
Lisa Brady, Head of ICT at Sydney Living Museums works with her team to provide seamless data availability and IT infrastructure for all 12 historical sites in SLM’s portfolio as well as records management and business improvement for their impressive 250 staff.
“We were outgrowing the technology, especially in the management of our digital archives with the legacy backup system. We needed to find a solution that kept up with our growing database and helped us provide the access to collections this organisation is committed to,” said Lisa Brady.
Brady recalls how this had a knock-on effect to visitors. “When people visited any of our heritage sites, admission would take a long time to process and our visitors would get frustrated, dampening their whole experience.”
This also began to affect many of the talented researchers and curators. Brady continues, “A lot of the access to digital collections that we use to build resources and materials were hampered by poor system performance. Our curators were frustrated and the organisation’s full potential was not being realised because our technology wasn’t there.”
“It became very clear that we needed to address this problem to do justice to our places and stories, or risk having adverse impacts to our revenue, process controls and visitor experience if our systems or data are not readily available.”
SLM sites are held ‘in trust’ for future generations. Each property and place has an individual plan for its conservation and management which embraces the specific qualities, significance and histories of that place and guides the approach to activities there.
Brady noted “When approaching this challenge it was important to consider the organisation’s role in giving our properties and places a future as valuable as their past. We needed a solution that was going to get IT out of the way and allow us to focus on supporting our museums’ mission the preservation of valuable history for the Australian people.”
In searching for a solution to their problems, Brady praises the support they have received from their IT consultant. Counterparts Technology helped SLM address their problems with Veeam Availability Suite in conjunction with its HPE storage infrastructure.
“As our pain points were causing business complexity, we wanted a simple and flexible IT approach. Counterparts worked with us to implement a comprehensive solution to ease our backup recovery woes.”
Brady recalls how Veeam has already transformed the organisation. “Our digital transformation journey has meant we are now able to allow recovery or access to a full working server in a short space of time. We are also able to update our test systems with relative ease and able to copy servers for testing easily.”
Cameron Cumming, Client Engagement Director and Matt Wynn-Jones, Managing Director of Counterparts Technology worked closely with the team at SLM to drive their digital transformation. They recognised that the organisation needed a cursory shift in their preparedness to manage highly rich content.
“The nature of the work that SLM does throughout all areas of their organisation meant that they were managing large amounts of content. We wanted to help provide them with the right platforms to manage this and meet the ever-changing demands their growing archives required.” said Wynn-Jones.
“We proposed a Veeam solution due to its ability to provide reliable, nearline backups of all their critical data with minimal performance impact. This has led to a massive reduction in business disruption and relieved the stress on production servers.”
Since implementing Veeam, the SLM team have also seen a notable difference in the quality of service they are able to offer their visitors, with faster transactions times and smoother admission processes.