Case study

Azure Migration Unlocks New Opportunities for Innovation at the University of Surrey

Supported by our cloud experts, the University of Surrey continues to reap the rewards of an ambitious digital transformation project.

The University of Surrey is a leading academic institution located in the heart of Guildford. With a global outlook and culture of innovation at their heart, they are dedicated to providing life-changing education and research. They aim to have a transformational impact on society – shaping future digital economies through agile collaboration with businesses, governments, and communities. To support this mission, their Chief Information and Digital Officer mandated a cloud-first strategy for their internal technology requirements.

Sector

Education

Vendor Partner

Microsoft

Project Scope

On-premise to cloud migration

Platform

Microsoft Azure

Challenge

With this mandate and their existing on-premise equipment coming to the end of its life, the University of Surrey kick-started a large digital transformation project within their IT team. This included migrating existing infrastructure and applications to Microsoft Azure and upskilling their platforms team to run and manage their new cloud infrastructure.

But, with over 800 virtual machines, this project required expert assistance. And the University went to market in search of a suitable Microsoft partner.

Approach

Wirehive competed for the chance to work with the University of Surrey against established education consultancies. We spent time with the key members of the project team to understand not only their technological requirements but also their ambitions around people and process. We then used our best-practice ‘Journey to the Cloud’ methodology to develop a highly competitive proposal.

Our approach was built around the agile methodology for the implementation phase, which broke the project down into sprints. We let the client decide where best to utilise our Azure expertise throughout the migration process. Not only did this fit better with the University of Surrey’s values of innovation and collaboration, it enabled their IT team to move away from large, fixed-price engagements.

 

“Working with Wirehive is a welcome change from the traditional cloud migration companies. The team are extremely professional while being flexible to our requirements, working in a truly agile fashion.”

Simon Bailey

Senior Technical Architect, University of Surrey

Solution

Having gained a clear understanding of the client’s requirements during the discovery stage, we worked alongside the University’s IT team to separate the Azure migration into several design and implementation phases. Our agile-based methodology, combined with our flexible resourcing model, allowed us to deliver fast time-to-value while overcoming key challenges.

Phase 1: Cloud-native Networking Consultancy and Design

In phase 1, we worked with the University’s internal teams to complete a full programme of networking discovery. We then created a low-level design, taking into account all relevant factors such as the split between physical data centres and cloud resources.

Phase 2: Architecture Design and Migration

The next step was to finalise the overall approach to the Azure migration. The scope of this covered a design of the infrastructure required, the methodology for deployment, and ongoing management of the services.

Architecture Design and Implementation

We quickly identified an opportunity to improve the team’s internal processes. To futureproof the solution, we recommended they adopt an Infrastructure as Code (IaC) approach and cloud-native tooling.
The solution was built to incorporate Azure Policy and Azure Resource Manager (ARM) Templates. This would define the infrastructure as code, allowing for consistent scripted deployment and governance throughout the platform. Finally, we developed an Application Migration Framework to help the team get the ball rolling on the migration process.

Migration

To maintain flexibility, our team of Azure experts spearheaded the migration of two key systems: the facilities management system and the accommodation and events management system. The process was 100% transparent, giving the University full confidence in our approach while providing them with a firm grounding in our approaches and considerations ahead of future migrations.

This helped cement a strong technical relationship, and we were asked to migrate a third application: The Surrey Sports Park website.

“The cloud consultancy and migration provided by Wirehive has been second to none. They were invaluable in helping us work through the more challenging application migrations and have enabled us to hit the time frames we wanted – even with COVID! All this while ensuring everyone in the IT team was very comfortable with Azure as a platform.”

Phil Vacher

Head of Platforms, University of Surrey

Outcome

Despite a two-month pause due to COVID, the Azure migration project has progressed nicely over the past 12 months. All targeted production application workloads have now been migrated to Microsoft Azure.

The new infrastructure and ongoing management methodology have empowered the internal platforms and infrastructure teams to replicate Wirehive’s approach to migration. 95% of the University’s applications targeted for Azure have now been migrated. This allowed them to take full advantage of the benefits of Microsoft Azure in terms of scalability, cost optimisation, increased productivity, and enterprise-grade security.

Ultimately, the main objective of this project was to improve speed and agility as well as introducing cost transparency.

With the platforms team now able to manage changes in weeks rather than months, the University of Surrey has certainly achieved that goal. And now, the team will be able to take advantage of new technologies in data and AI and continue to innovate.

“As a result of this journey with Wirehive, the University of Surrey has the underpinning infrastructure and partner relationships aligned to our core principle of innovation. Leading the way with a cloud-first strategy, we’ve ensured technology is an asset in our organisation that delivers opportunities for us to improve and innovate further.”

 

Kevin Braim

Director of Service Delivery, University of Surrey

Results

  • The University of Surrey has reduced application rollout times and removed their end-of-life hardware risk for application hosting.
  • Thanks to Wirehive’s agile and flexible approach, time to value was achieved in just 28 days.
  • The University’s internal infrastructure team have been upskilled in modern infrastructure management practices.