Supporting Staffordshire County Council’s Journey Into Azure

Every further step into Hybrid Cloud is important to our clients and the thought of moving mission critical workloads into a public cloud solution can be daunting.  Staffordshire County Council (SCC) called on the expertise of A4S Cloud Solutions to support their next steps into Azure Infrastructure as a Service, to improve resilience, enable Azure Self Service Password Reset (SSPR) and improve Security compliance.

A4S worked closely with the highly capable SCC IT Team to understand their needs focussing on the requirement to carefully extend their on-premise IT infrastructure into Azure public cloud services to create a true hybrid cloud solution.

Understanding the criticality of the SCC IT infrastructure A4S carefully reviewed the environment and played back the necessary details to the SCC IT team before putting designs together for shared review session, this ensured full transparency on both sides before any work was undertaken and careful inspection of the client's environment allowed new infrastructure to be added with confidence maintaining appropriate security at all times.

In close collaboration with the SCC IT team; A4S designed and built a new Azure subscription to host the clients new IT infrastructure in Azure, this included careful design of networking, storage, and Windows domain infrastructure.  The necessary Windows servers were built and added to the environment and handover was made easy by taking a shadowing approach to delivery ensuring SCC IT staff remained informed and engaged in the delivery of the new environment.  The client is now able to build out new workloads in their new Azure environment safely in the knowledge the solution has been built with a robust design and a focus on security; where needed new IaaS workloads can now be delivered into their new Azure environment to make best use of resilience, performance and scalability.

What is Azure IaaS?  See the image below and go to this link!

what-is-iaas

Azure SSPR is a great tool and works by utilising the password writeback feature of Azure AD Connect (AADC), A4S worked closely with the SCC IT Team to ensure their IT infrastructure was configured correctly to leverage this feature, after a detailed investigation and design session; minor changes were played back into the client's environment before enabling the service for their end users to use.  SSPR is a real time saver and enables end users to be more self sufficient, put less pressure on the client's service desk resulting in improved customer service and improving Security compliance. In SCC’s case; the work was compelling as not only does it displace an existing on premise toolset and workload, it also improves Security compliance and provides resilience for Azure and Office 365 tenancies.

How does Azure SSPR work?  Check out the link for more information here!

azuressprflow

Throughout the delivery; full, detailed and secure collaboration was undertaken between A4S and SCC IT teams using our transparent online Service Design and Transition toolset as per this link, we thank the SCC team for their quick adoption and immediate use of the toolset as this greatly helped delivery and ensured efficient and informative communications at all times.

It quickly became apparent that some great work has already taken place at SCC in terms of Office 365 and Azure, this made our job far easier as it was a case of building on good quality work already delivered, the SCC IT Team quickly engaged with the A4S Service Design and Transition Team in a friendly and helpful manner which greatly contributed to a quick, professional and secure delivery.

Following delivery we were extremely grateful for very positive and supportive feedback such as:

  • "It was an excellent first project, the teams worked well together, it was refreshing to work with a partner that provided some flexibility and were focussed on the outcome not just the clock".
  • "The A4S online service design and transition tool was a very positive experience".
  • "The work went really well, the solution is working well and will be a foundation for next steps, the end result was what we asked for and is a quick win with longer term opportunities".

In summary; we believe that a carefully planned hybrid cloud delivery is the first firm foundation for a client to leverage the powerful benefits of Azure IaaS and we hope this will be the first of many steps for the client.

Would you like to know more about our hybrid cloud approach and this delivery?

Feel free to email me at jason.birchall@a4scloud.solutions or meet up to grab a coffee ☕.

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