Consolidation and optimization
To usher both universities into the cloud, CoreAzure not only worked closely with the Sheffield Hallam and Plymouth IT teams, but with their Microsoft partnership development manager.
“It's a compelling proposition when a partner teams up with Microsoft really closely because you get additional assurances that Microsoft bring,” Dawson said. “And I think Microsoft also learn from the partner as well in terms of what works and how to convert opportunities.”
According to Dawson, one of the unique challenges posed by cloud migration in higher education is trying to untangle the often unwieldy and inefficient application estates universities can evolve over time. Key to CoreAzure’s approach is fundamentally understanding a university’s estate in order to not only consolidate and optimize the cloud infrastructure but prevent any service outages in the process.
“The Cloud Discovery Assessment that CoreAzure completed here at University of Plymouth has helped us to understand more about our unique pathway to cloud,” said Paul Westmore, IT director at the University of Plymouth, “allowing us to better and more accurately understand the cost of cloud vs. our on-premise equivalent.”
In addition to re-architecting and re-factoring applications, CoreAzure used an IaaS lift-and-shift approach to both migrations, requiring minimal changes to the associated data. Next-generation firewalls were configured, as well as additional Microsoft security products like Sentinel and Azure Security Center. ExpressRoute was utilized not only for the added security of a hybrid connection with VPN failover, but for faster speeds with consistent latency. Both migrations were completed over the course of about 18 months.
Standing out from the competition
The success CoreAzure has enjoyed helping universities transition to the Microsoft Azure platform has resulted in higher education becoming the company’s biggest growth area. Students at Plymouth and Sheffield Hallam have benefited from the increased accessibility and convenience of cloud-based services, which has been especially useful during the era of expanded remote learning.
“Cloud has made a real difference to the way in which a student interacts with the university,” Dawson said. “Increasingly universities will see a competitive advantage for more modern computing-based services as a way of differentiating themselves from the competition.”
The benefits of working with CoreAzure and Microsoft for universities don’t stop at reduced operating expenses and higher student satisfaction. CoreAzure continues to act in a managed service capacity for their customers, leveraging the benefits of the cloud to drive efficiencies and improvements.