Case study: the server upgrade process at Arthur Rank Hospice Charity

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The Arthur Rank Hospice Charity supports the running of Arthur Rank House, which operates in Cambridgeshire and the surrounding area. They aim to relieve sickness and suffering of people with life-limiting conditions and to assist their families and carers.

They recently undertook the process of migrating to Windows Server R2 Standard Edition with the help of an independent IT support firm called Cambridge Networks.
Server image

Server basics

Server software allows a dedicated computer to manage and handle common network roles, such as printing to a central printer, accessing the web, managing emails, or storing all your files in one place.

There are huge advantages to this, from convenience, good housekeeping and security to taking a load from the shoulders of the day-to-day PC’s that you and your colleagues work upon.

The need to upgrade

As organisations expand, the workload on the server increases. If you have a web server, for example, and the traffic to your website increases, then you’ll have to serve the site to more people simultaneously, which takes more CPU power.

An underperforming, or out-of-date, server can have a massive knock-on effect on everybody’s efficiency.

The Arthur Rank Hospice Charity needed to upgrade their servers after expanding. This began as they became an independent organisation in 2015, which involved taking on a large number of ex-NHS staff. Simultaneously, they ran an ambitious project to construct a completely new facility on a 2.2-acre site in Cambridgeshire.

In the meantime, the charity was finding that it had outgrown its IT infrastructure, which was built with Windows Server 2003.

“The server was crashing; email was hanging,” said Greg Sewell, MD of Cambridge Networks Ltd, an independent consultancy that has managed the Arthur Rank Hospice’s IT setup for 6 years.
Arthur Rank Hospice Charity image

Saving with a £3,600 donation

It reached a point where the charity knew that their processes were being undermined, and so they made the commitment to invest in an upgrade.

Server software is usually very expensive, but thanks to a donation accessed through Charity Digital Exchange, the charity was able to make a huge saving – by taking the Windows Server software and user CALs through the donation programme, the charity saved roughly £3,591 against the fair market value of the software.

“Being able to obtain the software licenses through Charity Digital was a life-saver,” admits Greg.

Support for a server upgrade

Greg emphasised that a server upgrade is more than just a plug-in-and-switch-on’ process. “There will be support issues, and you should allow for potential downtime – the aim must be to minimise this.”

“A starting point would be to find a reasonable-sized IT partner; somebody who understands what the client is trying to achieve,” he said.

“Your IT partner should clarify how they’ll ensure that you won’t lose any data in the move, and make sure that there are valid backups, and that the system is protected. Off-site backups are key, and it’s also a very good time to examine your system security as a whole.”

Buying IT

Advice on upgrading hardware

At the same time as upgrading their server software, the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity also made an investment into new hardware.

“Charities mustn’t be afraid to invest in hardware, and this is a big challenge,” warns Greg.

Donated hardware is often harder to source, as there is always a real cost for companies thinking of donating physical equipment, which isn’t normally the case for software.

Some charities are fortunate enough to receive previously-used technology from friendly commercial supporters as they themselves upgrade.

Many other small-medium charities turn to cheaper, refurbished kit rather than purchasing new machines. But this isn’t necessarily the best option from a cost perspective, let alone an operational one.

Old ITIn fact, Greg’s counsel is that this rarely proves to be a good option for a server-based upgrade project; with speed, capacity and reliability absolutely key, his advice is – if at all possible – to bite the bullet and purchase the best hardware than an organisation can afford.

This advice is echoed by Charity Digital’s CEO, Richard Craig. “If there really is no other option, then of course charities will have to turn to refurbished kit. But the reality is whatever you get will become obsolete sooner, at which point, either it undermines your ability to work effectively or you have to pay again for another upgrade.”

“In my experience, it’s better and cheaper in the long-run to buy new equipment with up-to-date security software, which will last longer.”

IT donations

About the £3,591 saving that the ARHC made through Charity Digital’s Charity Digital Exchange programme, Richard Craig said “It’s really great to hear. We’re always delighted when we see the results of the work we do, and we hope that we can help even more charities in future.”

“We’re fully aware that the work our charity does isn’t glamorous, but we know it’s important. By sharing the sorts of things possible, I hope we can help more charities to enhance the good work they do.”


To find out more about Windows Server editions and availability, visit the product pages on Charity Digital Exchange:


Thank you to Greg Sewell and the team at Cambridge Networks for their time.




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