Openwork is the UK's largest multi-tie network, comprising of around 2,200 professional financial advisers. They use Rackspace private cloud to support their network of Financial Advisers.

Openwork is the UK’s largest multi-tie network, comprising around 2,200 professional financial advisers offering pensions, protection, investment and insurance advice as well as longer term asset management. Backed by global insurance giant Zurich, Openwork prides itself on making it easier for advisers to do business more profitably, now and in the future. Openwork also helps advisers continually seek to improve the quality of the advice that they deliver to thousands of people every day.

Inefficient hosting

Steve Thomas is head of technical transition at Openwork, “Our business relies on an efficient web based portal for all communication and business. The existing hosting set up was very poor and inefficient and was suffering from repeated outage and downtime. In addition we were faced with the option of making a very significant capital expenditure to update all the hardware, software and managed server configurations which were rapidly approaching end of life, or looking for something completely new and innovative.”

Predictable and managed costs

Steve said, “We employed an external consultant to review the best hosting providers on the market. Rackspace® Hosting came out on top of the recommended list. Our fundamental objective was to have predictable and managed costs for IT hosting, with no hidden extras or surprises.

Significant cost savings

Rackspace looked at all of the applications and took heed of our cutting-edge requirements and overall objectives and finally recommended a private cloud configuration to solve the problem, which would provide us with the essential structure for future business scalability. The private cloud configuration will enable us to grow when needed and even to contract should business slow down for any reason.”

Steve revealed, “This unique approach has proven to be a significant cost-saving solution. I estimate that we have avoided a capital expenditure of at least £1.6 Million and also built a next generation system that will cope with significant future business and application growth”

Dedicated team

Steve continued, “A dedicated Rackspace engineer was involved from the outset with the system design and configuration, and helped us throughout the eight month design and development process. As a result of this very close collaboration in the design process, we were able to eliminate a significantly large number of physical servers; reducing the overall number of physical servers from 63 to 14. The dramatic effect of this action on our carbon footprint and the benefit to the planet is clearly obvious.”

Proactive assistance

Steve concluded, “We were in constant contact with the Rackspace team throughout the build process, and it was great to be able to pick up the phone and talk through any details as they arose. Rackspace proved to be highly proactive in assisting us with the set up of virtual servers for our Intranet, extranet, and messaging hub as well as a SharePoint server and CMS for our individual IFA sites. The system also incorporated data warehousing, PCI approved secure payment systems, POS and compliance as well as a fallback failsafe system and full data recovery should any element fail for any reason.” Steve went on to say, “When I presented the final concept to the main board the COO said “It is fundamental to our business that we do this as it is a building block for our future”. We have now implemented the proposals in full, replacing our entire IT infrastructure with the fully outsourced Rackspace private cloud solution which conforms to ISO27001, SAS 70 and PCI DSS security credentials. We have not looked back since.”

Immense flexibility

Christopher Yeow is Technical Architect at Openwork, “One of the key reasons for selecting the Rackspace solution was that it provided us with immense flexibility to scale the business over the next five years. We will shortly be adding a virtual office module for our IFAs – an office in a box, where they can find everything they need to conduct all their business using a variety of tools and software from an individually and professionally branded centre. All their file storage and backup will be included, and the office can be accessed from wherever they happen to be.”

Chris went on to say, “It is the new server configuration that has enabled us to easily cope with rapid business growth and development or even contraction should it ever be necessary. And paying for exactly what you use is a huge benefit. Rackspace support has been truly fanatical throughout the process and the entire team has ensured we have the best possible solution for our business at all times. I certainly would not hesitate to recommend Rackspace as a business IT hosting provider. The service they provide to us is something special.”

Huge choice

Openwork's aim is to offer its advisers genuine choice as they prepare their businesses ahead of the regulatory changes happening as part of the Retail Distribution Review. Whether they wish to remain independent, or offer restricted advice, Openwork will help them choose the right option for their future and give them the tools to prosper.. To find out more talk to Openwork on 0870 608 2550 or visit the website at

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