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 Fiber and Cloud Services Increase Efficiencies for YMCA


With more than 200 employees, hundreds of volunteers, and more than 50,000 members across numerous locations in Central Iowa, the YMCA of Greater Des Moines relies on technology to operate smoothly. 

After years of attempting to handle its information technology functions internally, the Y decided to outsource its technology needs to a partner that could support all branches of the Greater Des Moines YMCA. Now, nearly 10 years into working with Aureon, the partnership is still going strong.

“Our relationship began as a user/vendor arrangement to handle our network. Over the years, it has evolved into a partnership,” says Steve Gruening, Vice President of Accounting and Finance of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines. “We thought that having a company take care of our technology was the correct answer. As we quickly learned, we didn’t just need a company to come in and fix our issues, but rather, we needed a company to understand who we were, what we were about and where we were going. Aureon has been with us every step of the way, learning who we are, what we do and where we want to be in the future.”

EXPANDING PUBLIC WIFI

About four years ago, the Y began offering free WiFi to its members and guests. Originally, WiFi was connected via a single DSL line at each location. But, with multiple YMCAs across Greater Des Moines, even doing simple things like changing WiFi passwords became a time-consuming task. Aureon helped the Y transition to a centrally managed WiFi system at the Aureon Data Center that was already housing the organization’s computing resources.

“Each access point delivers all the Y’s IDs, with options for coming in as a corporate or public user. It’s all managed centrally by Aureon,” says Steve Simpson, a Sales Executive at Aureon. “This is a big time saver. If we need to change a corporate password, we can change the entire Y system—all 10 locations—at one time.” As the Y soon discovered, the improved WiFi wasn’t just a corporate efficiency; members and staff also appreciated the updates.

“Our members are not only able to check emails while a child is in swim lessons, but can even pull up a spreadsheet and share information with a co-worker while out of the office,” Gruening says. “It has also been beneficial for staff, as we travel frequently between sites, and the ability to quickly link up to the Web with portable devices makes life much easier.”

MEETING BUSINESS AND MEMBER NEEDS WITH HIGH SPEED INTERNET

Working with Aureon, several YMCA locations have made the switch from T1 copper lines to fiber optics. At branches with a fiber optic network connection, Aureon separated the bandwidth between its business users and members. That connection is then segmented with about two-thirds of the megabits reserved for the corporate network, which serves YMCA staff and partners who use the Y for meetings and presentations. The remaining megabits are reserved for the member network. Thanks to the separate networks, the Y’s business information is secure – member users are not able to access the corporate network.

“This has been a great way to segment the network to meet our different needs,” Gruening says. “Those coming to the Y for presentations love having the separation for their technology needs, and it also allows our staff to maintain the security of the private network while giving our members the access they need.”

Another benefit of the single-connection Internet access is that it’s expandable. Most YMCA locations are in tune with WiFi needs in the facility, so if the bandwidth at a certain branch isn’t sufficient, the Y can easily increase capacity.

THE IMPACT OF CLOUD COMPUTING

After more than five years using the Aureon Cloud Suite, IT operations are running smoothly, efficiently and cost-effectively for the YMCA of Greater Des Moines. The centralized computing environment for all locations allows increased connectivity among locations, especially for staff that work from multiple offices. By migrating to a centralized computing platform, delivered via the cloud, all staff can now access and share files and applications from one pool of resources, which they can access via the Internet.

Gruening notes that having everything in the cloud allows for greater efficiency.

“The best part about the cloud is being able to access your files from wherever you are at in a secure environment,” he says. “I believe it allows for quicker turnaround times by being able to access files when necessary.”

Whether it’s enhancing the YMCA’s WiFi experience or maintaining the organization’s cloud-based network, Aureon’s collaborative work with the Y has created a successful partnership.

“Aureon has the expertise to provide a technology network for us; however, it’s more important than just having the knowledge,” Gruening says. “A partner must truly understand what the purpose of the organization is and how technology can support that purpose.

“We didn’t just need a company to come in and fix our issues, but rather, we needed a company to understand who we were, what we were about, and where were going.”

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