Royal Mail Group reduces costs by 20 percent with automated deployments and private cloud

In a move that would even make Postman Pat raise his hat – the Royal Mail Group have decided to upgrade its 27,000 computers to the Windows 7 operating system.

Royal Mail Group delivers postal services to every household in the United Kingdom—more than 28.8 million addresses—through a network of 12,000 post offices, 2,000 processing sites, and 160,000 employees. Although Royal Mail Group is government-owned, the organisation expects to become a private company under the current parliament.

Royal Mail Group has always been cost-conscious, but still offers some of the lowest postal rates in the United Kingdom; however, it wanted to be even more diligent about IT costs as it prepared to privatise the organisation. Specifically, Royal Mail Group wanted to reduce software licensing costs, IT resource costs, and costs associated with technology impacts to its employees.

To reduce costs and limit its dependency on physical hardware, Royal Mail Group implemented VMware to run several of its business-critical applications, such as SAP software. In 2010, after the release of the Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacentre operating system with Hyper-V technology, Royal Mail Group also implemented the Microsoft virtualisation platform. With more than 600 servers in the data centre and three servers each at 116 remote sites, the organisation knew that a more aggressive approach to virtualisation could further increase its cost savings.

Royal Mail Group identified additional opportunities to manage its server and desktop systems more efficiently—including its decision to upgrade to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system. The organisation has 27,000 desktop and laptop computers spread across disparate sites throughout the United Kingdom, including on remote islands. Although Royal Mail Group used Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003, many deployments still required an on-site engineer, especially in the case of system rebuilds. “We had some level of automation, but there have been so many improvements in system management technology since we implemented Systems Management Server 2003 that we knew there was an opportunity for improvement in how we update software and deploy operating systems,” says Karl Snowden, Infrastructure Manager, Desktop and Networks at Royal Mail Group.


In May 2011, Royal Mail Group engaged technology partner CSC, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, to find a way to better manage its disparate IT environment and make IT business operations more efficient, particularly in preparation for the planned upgrade to Windows 7. Together, the companies decided to launch a large-scale project with the following technology goals:

  • Implement Microsoft System Centre 2012 as its system management solution, specifically to enable automated, unattended operating system deployment, manage desktops, provision virtual machines, monitor systems, and automate IT workflows.
  • Build a private cloud storage solution that would help improve the user experience for data backup and enhance data security. 
  • Expand the Hyper-V virtualisation environment at Royal Mail Group to better take advantage of the organisation’s Microsoft Enterprise Agreement.


As a result of working with CSC to implement Microsoft System Centre 2012 components and create a private cloud storage solution built on Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V, Royal Mail Group is well on the way to achieving the IT efficiency gains it desired. Still early in its deployment of Windows 7, Royal Mail Group expects to reduce support costs related to the desktop by up to 20 percent. The organisation is increasing IT efficiency through centralised management and enhancing data security with its private cloud. One of the most important outcomes of the large-scale project, however, is that the IT department at Royal Mail Group has dramatically improved the user experience for its employees.

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Posted by Howard
Content and Communities Manager, Microsoft UK Enterprise Team.