Leveraging Cloud Computing to Support Community Education
Djerriwarrh Employment and Education Services (DEES) is a not-for-profit Registered Training Organisation. DEES provides students with training which results in qualifications and statements of attainment that are recognised and accepted by industry and other educational institutions throughout Australia. Their mission is to provide programs to advance individual and community growth, with a vision centred on ‘independent people, strong communities’.
Since 1989, DEES has been a leading provider of community education services across multiple locations to the residents of Melton, Caroline Springs, Sunshine, St Albans, Sunbury and surrounding areas. By responding and adapting to community needs and providing high quality and individualised learning programmes, DEES is able to re-engage individuals in education, training, employment and family. This approach helps individuals, families and communities develop a strengthened sense of self-worth and confidence.
In 2011 DEES had a range of existing IT infrastructure that was costly, ageing and hindering the productivity of the organisation. Each server only serviced a particular location, with any sharing of information done so through email or by manually saving data on USB portable hard-drives. Operating across multiple locations with multiple servers, posed significant difficulties and risks with the technology infrastructure and knowledge management. Sessional teachers who moved across locations needed to save documents on a USB or other manual methods, resulting in security and logistical threats.
The ability to access information easily was paramount for the 110 staff that work both on location and remotely in training spaces – such as the portable classrooms. Given the complexity, DEES required a cost and energy-efficient centralisation of their IT infrastructure, which was flexible, timely and provided essential security.
“One of the concerns with going to the cloud was how it was going to effect our remote locations. We had an ageing set of hardware and we were going to have to spend a significant amount of money to replace it,” stated John Pollard Corporate Services Manager, DEES.
DEES came to Cloud Solutions Group (CSG) via a referral from an existing client. They were immediately impressed with the company’s history and experience. ‘From ownership right through to the technical support team, CSG had a good understanding of what our training company was trying to achieve and were able to give us valuable insight into the best-of-breed cloud solutions for our organisation,’ said Pollard.
CSG delivered a Cloud migration program, which included migrating DEES’s on-premise server environment and further enhanced security through the creation of a Disaster Recovery and Backup solution utilising the existing infrastructure.
One of the key elements of the upgrade was the deployment of a cloud based Citrix Desktop-as-a-Service solution to all DEES sites. CSG migrated their outdated Samba environment to Microsoft Active Directory and the Bynari mail solution to Office 365 in the cloud. These migrations significantly increased productivity and simplified the management of staff desktops, via the Citrix solution and provided the additional benefits of mobility and remote access.
“The youth team often move around and work in different locations, as do some of the trainers. For trainers to be able to log in and get the same settings, and set up and be able to have the same operational capacity, is particularly important to us. All of this was achieved with the new Citrix solution,’ explained Pollard.
CSG managed all stages of the upgrade to ensure minimal disruption to DEES’s business operations. The CSG team worked after hours and throughout weekends, to ensure a seamless implementation with no disruptions to the existing operation.
“CSG planned the process from conception to implementation. They understood our business thoroughly and were able to utilise this information and provide realistic time frames and minimise any downtime,” said Pollard.
By virtualising the data centre and migrating the servers to the public cloud, DEES have been able to reduce IT costs and deliver new IT services without increasing staff resources. ‘It’s a scalable solution – we are readily able to increase or decrease based on personnel demands,’ said Pollard.
The distribution of computer power across multiple locations and addition of virtual machines on demand has enabled DEES to deliver higher quality IT services and provided staff with a more user-friendly computing experience.
“We were effectively able to not have to outlay a lot of money to keep existing hardware going due to CSG’s ability to understand what we had and the value of it going forward. The partnership has been great; there’s probably no other way to put it.”
“They have worked with us very closely on a number of different aspects of our business to help us improve operationals and the overall effectiveness of our IT systems. They have been helpful in terms of making suggestions and where to look for further improvements, and how to be more strategic long-term,” said Pollard.
Cloud Solutions Group also provide DEES with a fully Managed Service that encompasses all aspects of DEES’s Cloud solutions and on-premise environments. DEES no longer have any internal IT staff; the environment is fully managed by CSG in collaboration with key DEES staff members.
DEES have experienced significant benefits in cost savings, performance, business resilience, application availability and productivity in the 18 months they have worked with CSG. ‘We have seen a massive reduction in capital outlay and expenses. We now don’t need to replace multiple servers – the new cloud platform means that we are using less power and energy costs have reduced. The quick response times from CSG when we need support have also provided operational benefits,’ said Pollard.
DEES’s strategic partnership with CSG will continue with the option to add more computer power to cater for future demands.
- Decreased hardware costs
- Decreased storage costs
- Decreased energy costs
- IT consistency throughout multiple locations
- Utilised Cloud-Back up and Disaster Recovery solutions
- Improved security, which is easier to maintain and monitor
- Increase in productivity
- Microsoft Active Directory
- Office 365-Exchange Online, Lync Online, SharePoint Online
- Citrix XenApp and Netscalers
- IGEL Thin Clients
- Acronis Backup and Recovery
- Sophos Astaro Gateways and Firewalls
- Journey to the cloud
- Infrastructure as a Service
- Desktop as a Service
- Office 365
- Cloud Security
- Fully Managed Services
- Cloud Disaster Recovery and Backup solution
- Desktop Virtualisation
- Mobility and Remote Access