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Quick glance summary.
- The client was experiencing IT problems on a daily basis
- Office Computers were becoming unreliable
- The server was constantly crashing
- Email was also becoming unreliable
- The client wanted to allow their staff to work from home
- They also wanted a hot desk system in the office
- All of the above needed to be addressed on a budget
- Make a full transition from on-premise to Microsoft 365 and Azure
- Migrate company emails to Exchange Online
- Migrate company data to SharePoint Online
- Migrate 3rd party applications to the Azure platform
- Implement Windows 10 Virtual Desktop
- Implement Microsoft 365 suite of applications
- Replace outdated PCs with Thin Client computers
- Upfront costs for replacement on-premise server hardware and software have been replaced with an affordable subscription fee for Microsoft 365 and Azure
- Thanks to implementation of Windows 10 Virtual Desktop solutions, the staff can now seamlessly work from home
- The client now has a hot desk system in place at the office thanks to the introduction of Thin Clients and Virtual Desktops
- The client’s email system is now working far more efficiently with almost zero downtime
- The 3rd party inventory application no longer crashes and is highly accessible from the client’s Virtual Desktops via the Azure platform
- Productivity and profitability have increased companywide because the technical problems caused by ageing IT Systems and hardware have been erased
Continue reading the full case study below…
Constant IT problems.
Having taken over from the previous IT service provider, our number one priority was to conduct a comprehensive audit of our clients existing IT systems to determine why they were experiencing so many IT issues. As predicted, the audit uncovered many problems that required immediate attention. It soon became very apparent that our client’s IT infrastructure was heavily outdated and in urgent need of investment in order to eradicate their IT problems in the short term, and then improve their efficiency and productivity for the long-term.
The staff were experiencing reliability problems with their office-based computers on a daily basis, in addition to issues with local network connectivity and data loss. Their PCs had served them well but many of their computers were nearly 10 years old and starting to crash regularly because of hardware failure. In addition, the specification of these machines was struggling to run the latest software, especially more resource intensive applications.
The staff were using a bespoke 3rd party inventory application that was hosted on their antiquated on-premise Windows Server. This software is critical to the day to day running of their business. However, the server would often crash without warning, which meant the staff couldn’t access their work, or they would randomly lose all of their work halfway through a task.
The client was using an on-premise Exchange server for their emails. Again, this server has served them well over the years but their version of Microsoft Exchange was end-of-life and no longer receiving updates and patches. As with the desktop PCs, the server hardware was also in desperate need of an upgrade.
The need to work from home.
The client was very keen to introduce a remote working policy, which would allow their employees to work from home seamlessly, without any technical boundaries that could potentially affect their productivity. This simply wouldn’t be possible with their existing IT systems.
Our client acknowledged they had achieved exceptional value for money from their existing IT systems. However, they were keen to circumvent the capital expenditure that’s needed to upgrade on-premise hardware by moving to a subscription-based IT model.
Change was essential.
Collectively, all of the above issues were greatly affecting our client’s day-to-day productivity. It was clearly necessary for them to invest in the correct technology that would not only resolve their IT issues but also allow them to work more efficiently and cost-effectively at the office and from home.
Make the transition to Microsoft 365 and Azure.
Following a post-audit meeting with our Technical consultant and our client’s management team, everyone was in agreement that the existing IT systems were antiquated and needed upgrading ASAP. Taking both the commercial and financial challenges and requirements into account, the most obvious solution was to replace all of the office PCs with current generation hardware and then make the transition from on-premise Windows servers to cloud-based subscription services, namely Microsoft 365 and Azure.
Because our client was very keen to allow their staff to work from home, we also proposed making the switch from using local Windows PC desktops to Windows 10 Virtual Desktops. Through the power of Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 users can use a secure remote Windows 10 Virtual desktop that can be accessed from anywhere, with no additional licensing costs.
What are the advantages of switching to a Windows 10 Virtual Desktop environment?
- The transition to working from home is greatly simplified because the end user is always working from the same desktop, no matter what computer device they are working from (windows, Mac and Android)
- All of your Company and employee data is securely stored in the Azure Cloud platform instead of being stored locally on an employee’s PC or on a local file server. This greatly reduces the risk of data loss
- Windows Virtual Desktop incorporates multi-factor authentication, adding an additional (and essential) layer of security to your IT network
Why Microsoft 365?
With Microsoft 365, our client has full access to Microsoft’s Suite of applications and Azure Active Directory (AD), in addition to Microsoft Exchange Online, which will replace their existing on-premise Exchange server. From a financial perspective, Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based service which means no initial capital outlay is required. In addition, the client will always have access to the latest version of Office applications and Exchange without any additional upgrade costs.
Where does Azure come into the equation?
Microsoft Azure is a highly flexible and resilient Cloud-based platform that incorporates a suite of over 100 different services and solutions that are hosted in Microsoft’s highly secure Cloud infrastructure. Microsoft Azure is a subscription-based platform that can be scaled to the client’s budget and requirements on the fly. And through the power of Azure, we can host and maintain 3rd party software applications and SQL databases in a secure and resilient enterprise grade platform that comes with an SLA-based uptime of 99.95%.
The transition process.
Before the project commenced, we presented an itemised quotation to the client, in addition to a detailed scope of works which incorporated a timeline for the project implementation and completion.
All of the below activities were successfully completed in a test environment before the actual migration project commenced.
Setup and configure Azure Active Directory.
As the client was making the transition to a Cloud-only infrastructure, our first task was to migrate the existing user details from their on-premise Windows Active Directory to Azure AD, ensuring that all users are in the correct groups with the correct permission levels, in addition to ensuring that group policies, password policies and authentication methods have also been correctly applied and tested.
Migration to Microsoft Exchange Online.
Our next task was to migrate all of our client’s email accounts from their existing on-premise Exchange Server to Exchange Online. This included all individual users mailboxes, sub folders, contacts, calendars, and task lists. All of the staff now access their Company emails though Outlook via their Virtual Desktops, Outlook Webmail Access, and the Outlook Smartphone app.
Migration of all company data to Microsoft SharePoint Online.
On our recommendation, our client chose a Microsoft 365 subscription that includes SharePoint Online – an online collaboration platform that is used to organise, store and access business data from a user-friendly web-based interface.
Our highly experienced SharePoint consultant pre-configured the SharePoint application to the clients requirements, creating specific SharePoint sites for each department in the Company. Once this was completed, we then migrated all of the client data from the on-premise Windows server to SharePoint, configuring user access permissions by department.
3rd party inventory application migration to Azure.
Next we migrated the client’s bespoke 3rd party inventory software and databases from their on-premise server to Azure. Our Project Manager worked closely with the software developer, communicating with them before and throughout the project to ensure a seamless migration to the Azure platform.
Implementation of Windows Virtual Desktop and Microsoft 365 applications.
Once the email and data migrations were completed, we then setup and configured a Windows 10 Virtual Desktop for every employee in the Company. We installed and configured Outlook to each desktop, plus any other Microsoft 365 applications that were required for each user in the process (such as Word, Excel and Microsoft Teams for example).
We also installed any other 3rd party applications that were being used by each employee (including Internet browsers and bookmarks taken from the old user profiles). We then added a shortcut to the clients’ critical 3rd party inventory software, which is also accessed through the Virtual Desktop.
Replace the existing PCs with new hardware.
Our final task was to decommission all of our clients existing PCs and replace them with Lenovo Thin Client computers. Thin Clients are basic computers with no moving parts or operating system, making them a perfect choice for Organisations that use Virtual Desktops.
The transition to Thin Clients was seamless because all of Company data was already migrated to SharePoint and their 3rd party applications were hosted on Azure.
We chose a Thin Client network because our client was keen to introduce a hot desk system in the office on a budget. Thanks to the implementation of Windows 10 Virtual Desktops, the staff are no longer tethered to a specific desk and can now work from any desk in the office.
Recycle the old hardware.
Once the migration to Microsoft 365 and Azure was completed and the Thin Clients were installed, we arranged for a local WEEE compliant IT Recycling Company to dispose of the old IT equipment for recycling and data destruction. The client was presented with an asset list of the equipment that was collected and an asset list of the hard disks that were safely destroyed.
Thanks to the amazing Project Management and engineering teams at Ohso Technical, the client now has a modern and resilient future-proof IT Infrastructure that is highly efficient and reliable.
The entire project was completed on-time and within budget within six weeks from the initial consultation session to infrastructure design and implementation. The project itself was completed over four days, with the majority of work taking place over a weekend in order to ensure minimal disruption and downtime.
What was achieved?
- Thanks to the introduction of Windows 10 Virtual Desktops and Microsoft Teams, the staff can now work seamlessly from home using the same Windows Desktop they use in the office.
- After the transition to Microsoft 365 and Azure subscription-based services, the client is now paying for their entire IT Infrastructure ‘as a service’. This includes Microsoft 365 applications that would have previously been purchased as standalone licenses.
- Zero capital expenditure was required outside of the original project implementation costs. Instead, the client pays a predictable monthly ‘per user’ service fee for Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure, in addition to fully managed technical support that is provided by our helpdesk team.
- The clients email system is now working far more efficiently and they have experienced zero downtime since the migration to Microsoft Exchange Online.
- The 3rd party inventory application can now be accessed at all times from Azure, again, with zero downtime so far.
- Both productivity and profitability have increased companywide because all of the technical problems associated with their ageing IT Systems have been completely erased.