Case Study: E-learning Provider in the Public Sector

With one million users requiring access to an ever-expanding library of more than 24,000 e-learning sessions, our client required a highly available, scalable platform to ensure it could meet both its existing and growing demands without issue.

  • Service Areas Managed Services (Azure), Professional Services (Azure), Cloud Migration, Licensing
  • Industry Public Sector
  • Organization Size More than 1 million users
  • Completion date March 2019

3

months to deliver a new Azure environment

25-35%

cost reductions through Azure

24/7

monitoring and alerting

Helping one million public sector staff deliver better outcomes

Following a merger, our client had a need to rationalise the IT departments of the two businesses. As part of this process, the decision was reached that our client would replace its AWS environment and move into the other’s Azure subscription.

In this way, our client would benefit significantly from the cost savings offered through the other’s existing Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA).

Challenge

This change came at a time when the organisation was already feeling it had outgrown the support model with its existing hosting provider and was looking to gain more autonomy in managing its cloud applications and infrastructure.

With its cloud partner falling short of meeting its business needs and the organisational drive to adopt an Azure-only environment, the organisation prepared a rigorous tender process to seek a better fit solution and partner.

What really impressed us was the in-depth, bona fide knowledge of Azure demonstrated at our first encounter and which we soon realised permeated the entire team. Coupled with its extensive understanding of public sector requirements and its impressive Microsoft Partner accreditations, we emerged from our rigorous tender process with the utmost confidence that this was the right partner for us.Senior Support Analyst, Client
As a public body it is vital that we demonstrate value for money, which meant we needed greater performance and control at a more reasonable cost. Content+Cloud made this possible. They gave us the autonomy we wanted to administrate and develop our own cloud environment. We also now benefit from an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft, which affords us some pretty hefty discounts. Senior Support Analyst, Client

Approach

Our Microsoft Gold Partnership and awards, extensive experience and expertise in Azure for public sector organisations, and willingness to give the organisation autonomy to administrate its cloud environment, set us apart from competitors in the bid, which included the incumbent cloud partner.

As for the migration itself, a key priority was to keep system downtime to an absolute minimum, given users could require access to its e-learning resources at any point in the week, day or night.

However, the fact remained that some components would need to be stopped during the migration process and transferring its mission critical database, along with sizeable assets including its video content library, learning records and documents would take a long time. All this meant that some downtime would be inevitable. To minimise downtime, the client’s entire Windows and Linux server estate would need to be moved across to the new Azure environment over the course of just one weekend.

The long-term ambition for the client is to move to a PaaS architecture, which will enable it to take advantage of containerisation and improve the e-learning experience for users via AI.

Solution

  • Moved the servers that power the storage and accessibility of the client’s virtual learning environment and resources from AWS over to Azure virtual machines (VMs).
  • Leveraged our Azure Landing Zone IP to automate the setup of a secure and scalable Azure environment, which meant our client was all set to commence the migration phase of the project in a matter of days.
  • Operating systems we migrated to Azure during the project included Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012 R2 and 2016, as well as Linux.
  • The cloud migration was carried out in accordance with our methodology and completed seamlessly in time for the Monday morning go-live deadline, saving time and money.
We are already working with Content+Cloud on the next phase of our project to implement PaaS services such as Azure DevOps, Azure Web Apps and Azure SQL and, with a recently announced facelift to our e-Learning platform, we know we can depend on them to help us deliver this with success.Senior Support Analyst, Client

The Future

With its Azure solution in place and running smoothly, our client has already engaged with us to provide consultancy and delivery on the next phase of the project to move its applications over to a PaaS architecture enabling them to reap the benefits of services such as Azure DevOps, Azure Web Apps and Azure SQL to:

  • build in additional availability options to address spikes in demand;
  • access the latest security features;
  • scale its service based on real-time usage;
  • allow for even greater scale than the current environment;
  • speed up application deployment;
  • reducing costs further.

Outcomes

  • In less than three months from start to finish, we had our client up and running in its new Azure environment and the benefits have been immediately felt.
  • Our client now has a platform that is more than capable of handling millions of training sessions for hundreds of thousands of users, at a fraction of the cost of its previous AWS environment.
  • Benefiting from the Microsoft EA the other organisation in the merger already had in place, it now has access to the latest cloud services and software licenses to keep abreast with the rapidly changing technology landscape, while also benefiting from volume discounts. Our client estimates that this its savings amount to around 25-35%, with particularly high savings on SQL licensing.
  • The Azure solution has transformed our client’s testing and production environments. The DevOps team now has the power to take a snapshot of the live environment and test proposed changes, making them more responsive while also powering innovation of services.
  • With Role Based Access Control to the environment, the DevOps team now has appropriate permissions in place to see servers that were previously inaccessible. This has sharply reduced the cost and time associated with having to engage a partner to make changes on their behalf – changes that took days can now happen instantly.
  • We provide 24/7 monitoring and alerting on our client’s new Azure environment along with ad-hoc consulting, all through their support contract. This gives the client the certainty that they can access our expertise whenever the need arises.