Repairs and Maintenance Solution in Azure For Trent and Dove Housing

Rapid delivery of a new Microsoft Azure & Dynamics 365 cloud environment to support a mission critical application modernisation project.

Rapid delivery of a new Microsoft Azure & Dynamics 365 cloud environment to support a mission critical application modernisation project.
Trent and Dove Housing (TDH) needed to deploy their new Accuserve solution into Azure with secure integration to Dynamics 365 whilst ensuring the application was seamlessly integrated into their on-premise virtual desktop environment.
A4S worked closely with the client to successfully design, build and service transition the solution. From the clients perspective; the fact that Accuserv is hosted in Azure is completely transparent, due to the clever use of application delivery technologies, wide area networking, single sign on and Active Directory configuration.
A4S are housing sector specialists when it comes to migrating services such as finance, housing systems and Biztalk into cloud platforms, this requires detailed analysis of the existing application and infrastructure estate to ensure any new solution perfectly integrates and provides an amazing end user experience.
The Need
The client had several major challenges in relation to their legacy IT infrastructure that was preventing deployment of this mission critical solution:
  1. Lack of on-premise storage capacity.
  2. Lack of on-premise compute capacity.
  3. No high speed internet connection to support interfacing between Dynamics 365 and on-premise housing management systems.
The client had an urgent need to deliver the IT infrastructure needed to support their ambitious modernisation program which included creating a new online repairs capability.
Their on-premise environment lacked the scalability to host the necessary IT systems, also at the time of writing there was no high speed connection to the internet or any Azure or Dynamics 365 environment.
Solutions Involved
In order to support the client’s urgent need to continue their application modernisation journey A4S closely collaborated with the client, the clear answer was to deliver an Azure tenant to host the necessary solutions, this would enable the rapid delivery of the necessary solutions and would have minimum impact to their legacy on-premise environment.
Within the clients Azure tenant several virtual machines were delivered to host the Accuserv Repairs solution, at the time of writing no PaaS or SaaS solution was available hence particular attention was given to control costs through the use of appropriate sizing and also to implement Azure Reserved VM Instances (RIs), a holistic view was taken of the clients IaaS VM needs and RIs were implemented to cover the amount of time the IaaS VMs are expected to remain before being replaced with more efficient solutions.
The IaaS VMs also included some very large machine templates where surprisingly the cost was reduced to approximately 40% of the pay as you go (PAYG) cost.
As well as the repairs solution, a large VM for an interface solution was implemented including monitoring and backups, to ensure secure connectivity between the new interface engine and Dynamics 365 an Azure Front Door was implemented to assist with SSL offload and DDoS protection.
Finally in order to mitigate the low bandwidth between on-premise and Azure at the time of writing; an RDS Remote App environment was hosted in the Azure environment to deliver the Accuserv application seamlessly into the clients on premise end user compute solutions, the necessary automated deliver and single sign on were configured to ensure an automatic sign in experience.
Learning Opportunities
Azure Reserved VM Instances (RIs)brought surprisingly high value financial benefit especially across larger machine sizes up to approximately 40%, the smaller IaaS VMs were approximately 50% cheaper. It was useful to note that only specific IaaS VMs fit into reserved instances in certain regions so a good exercise would be to confirm that availability before choosing your VMs in the future.
Azure enables the rapid and safe deployment of infrastructure and application assets, the wide range of solutions available in Azure meant as a supplier A4S did not need to look any further than the Azure Marketplace. Delivering IaaS VM hosted solutions in Azure can be managed in terms of cost with the use of reserved instances that bring a surprising cost reduction.
With careful planning; issues such as a small internet connection and lack of dedicated connectivity into Azure can be mitigated through the use of either web deliver or remote app deliver of applications.
For the Trend and Dove ICT team this was their first exposure to an Azure environment, even taking into account the rapid delivery of this solution; they remained supportive and involved giving useful information at all times around their internet performance and Citrix environment at the time, also close working was needed to deliver the necessary firewall changes to ensure safe integration with their on-premise housing management solution.
Finally a layer of monitoring and alerting has been delivered using A4S Monitor, this solution provides a single pane of glass for your entire environment, the Trend Dove Case study is here for your review.
Sophie Geehan TDH IT Systems Leader explained how the TDH IT Team had found the solution critical to support their rapid progress:

“A4S were able to respond quickly to our needs and closely supported the delivery of our new environments, we didn’t have the capacity on-premise to deliver our new modernisation projects hence needed a solution urgently.”

“A4S worked closely with our IT teams to understand our on-premise IT infrastructure including our firewalls, our remote desktop environments and our active directory that they also integrated into our new Azure Active Directory.”

“Our Azure VM costs were fixed with the implementation of Azure VM Reserved Instances and this brought about certainty with our Azure budgets.”

“Now with the implementation of Azure Monitor we can easily visualise our Azure based solutions and even seen details such as how much our VPN is being used, and how many remote app connections are being made to our new Accuserv solution.”

Sophie Geehan TDH IT Systems Leader

A4S Managing Director Jason Birchall advised:

“Trent and Dove have embarked on an ambitious and progressive journey of modernisation that was being held back by a lack of on-premise IT infrastructure capacity at the time, we engaged with the client and collaboratively decided to deliver the required IaaS solutions within a new Azure tenant.”

“The use of Azure meant the client could retain the use of their on-premise IT infrastructure and augment this capability with Azure services combined closely with a new Dynamics and Office 365 environment all delivered under a flexible CSP agreement.”

“Subsequently A4S worked closely with the TDH IT teams to deliver A4S monitor to provide complete visibility of the existing on-premise IT environments and also their new Azure assets to ensure they could be fully managed.”

Jason Birchall A4S Managing Director
Would you like to know more about our approach to monitoring and alerting and this delivery?
Feel free to email me at [email protected]