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.
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.”
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.
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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“It’s great to work with the Compete366 team, the team members are really knowledgeable, helpful and responsive. No question is too difficult for them. They have really helped us to manage our Azure costs and ensure we have the right environment. When we bring a new customer on-board we can scale up immediately via the Azure portal and quickly make environments available to our customers.”
“We also find that there’s never a heavy sales pitch from them – they are technically focused and recommend what’s right for us.”
Paul Coyne, Rusada
“We had great support from the Compete366 AVD expert, who was really helpful, and guided me through options to tackle issues that arose.”
“The great thing about our AVD set up is that we have a custom set up for each project which Compete366 showed me how to do. And with the scalability and flexibility of AVD – we can meet clients’ expectations and get project users up and running more quickly.”
Amir Dangol, Senior IT Manager, Integrity
“We were immediately impressed with the advice that the Compete366 specialists in Azure Architecture were able to provide. This was all new to us and we really needed some external expertise that we could use to get our questions answered. The beauty of working with Compete366 is that we transferred our Azure consumption to them, and at the same time received all of their advice and guidance free of charge.”
Tim Entwistle, Head of Software Development, Herrco
“Working with Compete366 has been like extending our own team – they are extremely and easy to work with. Right from the outset, it was clear what was on offer – everything was presented to us in a straightforward and uncomplicated way. They also provided just the right level of challenge to our developers and saved us time and money by suggesting better ways to implement our infrastructure.”
Oliver Mackereth, Project Director, Hanse
“Compete366 were able to help us leverage some useful contacts in Microsoft. We really value the expert advice and guidance that they have offered us in setting up a highly scalable infrastructure. We are also setting in place a regular monthly meeting which will allow us to further refine our architecture and ensure we keep on track as our requirements grow and change.”
Matt Brocklehurst, Technical Director - AWOL Adventure
“I have been delighted with the migration, where my team worked very hard, supported by expert advice from Compete366, and achieved everything in the timescale we had set out. Compete 366 made sure that we didn’t make any expensive mistakes, and guided us through the process”