KingsGate Community Church has been able to expand its reach far beyond its original site, serving communities in four cities with the help of virtual servers from Charity Digital’s Charity Digital Exchange.
KingsGate Community Church was born in 1988 as a small local church group, and has since expanded into a thriving community with centres in Peterborough, Cambridge, London and most recently Leicester, which opened in 2014.
From its humble beginnings KingsGate is now a ‘megachurch’ with a congregation of more than 2,000 people, serving a broad variety of people of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities. Sunday services at its largest venue can seat up to 1,800 worshippers, and the church has even produced two albums of live worship music.
Since expanding out of its original centre in Peterborough in 2010, KingsGate has had to invest heavily in its IT infrastructure.
As well as its many worship services and support groups, the church is also involved in a significant number of community action projects including co-ordinating the Peterborough Foodbank and running the Care Zone, a charity helping families in Peterborough access donated household goods. It also coordinates volunteers working in partnership with Hope for Justice, a charity committed to fighting human trafficking.
As a growing charity, KingsGate needs to keep its finances focused on its mission of serving its followers and wider community, while saving on associated running costs.
But running so many activities across four cities means maintaining a solid infrastructure with a huge strain on IT resources. They needed to find a more cost-effective way to manage services and data.
Last year, KingsGate used the server licencing it obtained from Charity Digital Exchange to implement a Microsoft Hyper-V cluster running on Windows Server Datacenter edition.
Hyper-V is Microsoft’s answer to server virtualisation, a type of OS architecture giving organisations the ability to run virtualised machines which sit on top of servers and allow for multiple instances of user spaces on just one machine.
With this technology, organisations are able to reduce the number of servers needed, for easier management and significant cost efficiencies over traditional servers.
Having the virtual servers in place has enabled KingsGate’s tech team to support each of the centres and community action projects in all four cities, from the main Peterborough centre. This is thanks to a terminal server which supports users in multiple locations using thin clients (lightweight computers that are optimised for running remotely from a server).
They are able to provide a consistent user experience across each of the centres, so users can access all the functionality of their normal desktops from anywhere there is an internet connection. Data isn’t stored locally, so it is securely kept on the servers and users can log in from any device.
The consolidation of IT has helped the church make huge savings by reducing the investment in hardware needed, as the servers have allowed them to make use of older desktop hardware.
Since everything is centrally managed, it has also saved on associated costs such as IT support and staffing. One big plus point is that virtual servers take a lot less time to provision and maintain, so the charity can spend less time worrying about IT and more time and energy focusing on its mission to transform lives through the Christian faith.
“We are very grateful for the significant savings on Windows licensing we have made through Charity Digital,” says Pete Charlton, Technical Manager at KingsGate Community Church. “The savings have made a massive difference, enabling us to implement solutions that we as an organisation would otherwise be unable to provide.”