Microsoft Azure Cloud & Office 365 Migration

By admin • April 25, 2019

Client Name: Simpkins Edwards
Website: https://www.simpkinsedwards.co.uk/
Industry Sector: Professional Services
PC Users: 100+
Locations: Six Offices across Devon
Contact: Richard Holt
Job Title: IT Manager
Date: Autumn 2017

Client Background:

Established in 1968, Simpkins Edwards provides the full spectrum of accountancy, business advice and tax consultancy services to a wide variety of businesses and individuals. Although they are a well-established practice with six South West based offices, they are small enough to ensure that their services come with a truly personal touch, delivered by people who live and work in the region.

As a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales, they are regulated to meet high standards of service. Whether they’re coming up with innovative new ways to save tax or taking the time to understand the latest legislation and what it means for their clients, they are dedicated to remaining at the forefront of excellent accountancy practice.

Overview:

Following a thorough IT and Disaster Recovery review, the partners and IT team at Simpkins Edwards determined that they wanted to ensure their IT infrastructure was best in class and that the practice would continue to be well placed to support its clients current and future needs.

Local and national IT providers were asked to provide a cloud computing solution and cost proposal to migrate the on-premise server infrastructure, network architecture and users at all 6 sites. The proposals and IT strategies supplied to the practice included regional data centres, national data centres with IT Champion proposing the utilisation of the Microsoft Azure Cloud Platform.

The practice conducted a thorough and robust review of all the proposals and selected IT Champion due to the technical elegance of the Microsoft Azure solution, deep understanding of the practice’s requirements and the cost-effective project delivery options put forward.

Challenges:

Migrate 90+ users and devices across 6 sites in Devon to a Microsoft Azure Cloud infrastructure including:

  • Migration from on-premise VMware server infrastructure to Microsoft Azure.
  • Migration from on-premise Citrix on Windows Server 2008 R2 to Azure hosted Microsoft Remote Desktop (RDS) on Windows Server 2016.
  • Migration from on-premise Exchange 2010 to Office 365 Exchange Online.
  • Migrate on-premise Microsoft SQL server or hybrid SQL server online.
  • Prepare and optimise the local and wide area network for the cloud.
  • Utilise the existing network connections.
  • Removal of any dependency on any particular site.
  • Propose a solution that could work with multiple connectivity providers
  • Support the existing on-premise infrastructure before and during the migration.

Project Description:

PHASE 1 – Proof of Concept

Once IT Champion was awarded the contract, senior systems engineers conducted a free of charge proof of concept. This included testing Microsoft RDS as a replacement to Citrix, which would make a considerable cost saving for the practice. The proof of concept was a great success and it was determined that the practice could move away from Citrix and use RDS to provide their desktop environment.

PHASE 2 – Network Readiness

To prepare the network for Microsoft Azure, IT Champion engineers implemented cloud managed Meraki firewalls at each site for resilience and security. Additionally, connectivity was configured to the Exeter office for content filtering.

PHASE 3 – Azure Provisioning

Once the network was ready a Microsoft Azure server infrastructure was provisioned, including a legacy server for their critical 3rd party line of business applications. Working closely with 3rd party software vendors the server infrastructure was deployed and configured along side a number of Microsoft Azure servers running Microsoft software.

PHASE 4 – End User Testing

With the Microsoft Azure server infrastructure in place, IT Champion engineers and the IT Team at Simpkins Edwards conducted a thorough end user testing phase that focused on providing a standard desktop experience to all users. This included the installation and successful testing of Office 365 and a range of 3rd party software applications.

PHASE 5 – Out of Hours Migration & Go Live

All the elements of the new Microsoft Azure based infrastructure were now in place. IT Champion engineers planned the out of hours migration of all services to minimise the disruption to the practice. During this phase IT Champion provided intensive onsite support for the roll out, which included server tuning and optimisation, configuration of printing and scanning solutions and 3rd party application support. A script was also created to shut down the Azure servers overnight, which greatly reduces the per minute billing from Microsoft.

PHASE 6 – Training & Hand Over

Following the successful migration phase, IT Champion engineers conducted a knowledge transfer and handover with the internal IT Team at the practice.

PHASE 7 – Managed IT Services & Support

With the entire project completed in a few months, IT Champion now provide the IT Team at Simpkins Edwards with 3rd line Azure infrastructure support, project support and consultancy and 3rd line cover.

Conclusion:

Simpkins Edwards now have a flexible and highly resilient Microsoft cloud-based IT infrastructure. Headline benefits include:

  • Elastic computing resources for peak and low demand periods.
  • Improved resilience and disaster recovery reduced to minutes not days.
  • Removed reliance on the Exeter office, which was a single point of failure.
  • Eliminated the IT server hardware replacement cycle.
  • Removed the cost to upgrade certain Microsoft software products including Windows Server RDS and Office 365.
  • Greatly simplified the provisioning and management of servers, users and desktop PCs.

All of the cloud migration work was carried out by IT Champion engineers and the project was successfully delivered to agreed timescales and budgets.

This project is an example of the Microsoft Azure cloud integration and support services that IT Champion can supply to organisations of all sizes.

Comments:

We found IT Champion easy to deal with and they offered us clear proposals for our IT infrastructure going forward. We have also found our new arrangements to flexible, and allow us to grow, with easy scaling up of capacity.

We are now well positioned to cope with the changes in the IT world and value the back up and knowledge of IT Champion.

Further Information:

If you’re looking for a customer focused IT partner contact us today!

IT Champion makes it simple for organisations looking for change by offering the very latest forms of proactive IT support, products and services to suit almost every budget. We would love the opportunity to discuss your IT strategy to see how we may be able to help.