The Education Company saves 30% on IT costs with move to Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure

Compete366 EdCo case study

The Education Company (EdCo) provides data, marketing support and business intelligence  for the world of education.

This case study explains how Compete 366 supported their move to Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure to provide a great service to its customers and make significant cost savings.

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Business Background

The Education Company (EdCo) was formed in 1988 and started life as a consultancy to help large organisations run competitions and events in UK schools. From day one EdCo recognised the vital role data played in the delivery of successful education projects.  30 years on and the Education Company has embedded data and business intelligence into all the products and services they provide to the world of education.

From this start, EdCo has grown and now employs over 50 people across two sites based in Kent and Derbyshire.

The Business Challenge

A core part of EdCo’s offering is its SPIRITTM CRM software that allows customers to manage their sales activity with schools, underpinned by the direct marketing database lists that EdCo provides.

EdCo had an IT infrastructure set up to support its SPIRIT CRM which is delivered as a Software as a Service (Saas) offering.  The infrastructure used to deliver this was split between on premise and rented servers.  Many of these were legacy 2008/12 servers and with these aging servers came the headache of managing failing disks, hardware, backups.

Across the combination of the multi-tenant SPIRIT CRM, eCommerce and several individual microsites, EdCo was managing and hosting around 100 different websites.

The rented physical servers provided a fixed infrastructure without any flexibility over sizing as the business grew.  As Darren Waters, Technical Director explains “As we grew each time and added another customer’s CRM we would need to commit to buying another two servers – we just couldn’t scale incrementally.  We were looking for a more flexible, cost effective solution that could scale with our growth.”

EdCo was spending around £22k per month for its IT infrastructure and hoped to make significant savings, along with increasing resilience and flexibility.

The Solution

As EdCo’s software is all developed and written in-house using the Microsoft technology stack it made sense to stick with Microsoft for the cloud infrastructure as well, as it was familiar and therefore would make the transition easier.

Darren explains “Our contact at Microsoft put us in touch with a few partner companies who could possibly help us.  After chatting to a few we knew that Compete366 would provide the best fit for us and help us to achieve what we wanted to.”

Project Details

Compete366 provided an Azure expert consultant366 who hand-held EdCo through the design of the top-level architecture for their Platform as a Service (Paas) on Azure.  They also assisted with the server reservation process, allowing EdCo to lock in the costs of the services they needed, providing predictability around the costs of procuring what they required.

In addition, Compete366 worked with EdCo to set up the complete Office365 setup for the entire team, providing a flexible solution that allows for remote working, and saves considerable costs against traditional office application licensing.

Compete366 also helped to set up Azure WVD to give the EdCo team members secure access to the business applications and data they needed – wherever they are working.

Key Benefits

  • Cost reduction from £22k per month to £15k per month for the entire infrastructure
  • Flexibility – Microsoft Azure consumption-based model allows the infrastructure to be scaled in line with EdCo’s growth.
  • Microsoft Azure allows EdCo to provision exactly the right amount of server resource they need now and increase the infrastructure in size only when required.
  • PaaS takes EdCo to the next level as it allows them to automate some of their back-end processes and provides the necessary building blocks to respond to customer demand

Technical Infrastructure Details

Azure Windows Virtual Desktop deployed for all EdCo team members

Highly secure Private Network created within Azure & VPN connectivity from Azure to multiple office sites

Platform as a Service (PaaS) deployments including:

    • Azure Active Directory Domain Services deployed
    • Websites hosted for various clients with individual customer databases
      • App Services, Logic Apps deployed
      • Azure SQL Databases for each client
      • Application level Firewall enabled using Azure Application Gateway

Infrastructure as a Service deployments

    • Azure Virtual Machines
    • Azure SQL Virtual Machines
    • Azure Backup with daily and Weekly backup policies configured for Azure VMs and SQL


    • Azure Backup Agent deployed for On Premise Servers and backup configured to Azure
    • Data Integration & Analytics
    • Azure Data Factory deployed for Data integration
    • PowerBI Embedded node deployed
    • Azure DevOps configured for continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment

Working with Compete366

“We have found working with Compete366 so easy.  When we need to provision  additional licences,  Compete366 team members are always responsive and quick to come back to us with what we need straightaway.  And by reserving the hardware we require with Microsoft, they have helped us reduce our costs by a significant amount.  The Compete366 technical experts are always there to help with our more complex enquiries – and have been instrumental in helping us to  transition to our new infrastructure.”

Darren Waters, Technical Director, EdCo

If you’d like to find out how our Azure Experts can help you set up your IT infrastructure in the most effective way then do get in touch. We’ll be pleased to help.

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