Home Farm Trust has adopted Riverbed’s wide-area data services solution to support its residential users with learning difficulties.
The charity, which provides residential care, supported living and other services to more than 1000 people with learning difficulties throughout the UK, strongly encourages the use of technology by its users. HFT particularly focuses on electronic diaries for users to document their daily lives with pictures and stories as these can be used to demonstrate their skills and experiences to potential employers.
HFT found that the learning disabilities of its users meant that they were more prone to accidentally deleting or overwriting their work. Furthermore, slow application speeds across the users’ houses throughout the country caused unnecessary problems and prevented the best use of the available IT equipment. However, the provision of a server into every location would be too expensive to install and almost impossible to run due to the security risks and lack of IT staff to maintain and back-up the servers.
HFT’s main goals were to improve the operating speed of the computer terminals and to introduce a back-up system for all computers on the system. Furthermore, any new system had to be non-intrusive and run independently in the background, allowing users to work without interruption on their personal projects.
Les Burns, sales director for EssentialNet, which advised HFT on possible solutions, said, “Due to the difficulties reported by the end users, we felt that the Riverbed technology was almost ‘custom built’ for the project.”
With the technology distributed by Zycko, which serves more than 3000 IT resellers around the world, implementing Riverbed’s Steelhead Mobile system has improved application performance. At the same time, Riverbed’s wide-area network optimisation, which reduces the original data load by up to 98 per cent, has made it quicker and easier to remotely back-up the entirety of the service users’ work to a central HFT location in Bristol.
Burns added, “It allows each PC to run its own dedicated Steelhead appliance, which reduces bandwidth usage and reduces application protocol inefficiencies across the wide-area network, thus providing the extra speed HFT were looking for.”
Martyn Tomkins, IT manager, Home Farm Trust, said, “We have particularly noticed the difference with word processing applications, email and logon speeds. Steelhead Mobile was the only viable solution on the market and has performed extremely well in speeding up our service users’ application performance, while providing them with the essential data back-up service they required.”