Headquartered in Manchester, NCC Education is a provider of globally recognised business and computing qualifications. It offers training and course materials from its network of accredited training centres, including colleges and universities in China, Malaysia, Singapore and India, for both online and classroom-based learning.
An alternative approach to infrastructure NCC Education is governed by Ofqual (Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) and its best practice guidelines, which include ensuring that it has a sound business continuity and disaster recovery plan in place. However, with an ageing IT infrastructure and kit hosted in a local datacentre, the organisation was concerned about availability of its business-critical systems in the event of an incident that caused any significant downtime.
“Our current IT setup was working fine but we were aware that our ageing IT infrastructure needed replacing and with a single point of failure, there was no failover. If any of our kit failed, we would be offline until the problem could be fixed. The cost of replacing our entire IT infrastructure would have been extremely expensive, so we were keen to work with our IT support team at M247 to find an alternative approach to our infrastructure needs.” NCC Education IT Support Manager, Steve Bettoni”
M247 Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Having trialled Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) previously, Bettoni recognised that it could be a cost-effective alternative to replacing their own existing infrastructure. IaaS provides virtualised cloud-based computing resources that are owned and managed by a third-party provider. At the time, NCC was already working with M247 to provide its hosting services at its Manchester datacentres and Bettoni spotted the opportunity to transfer this investment and for M247 to host and manage its infrastructure instead. A visit from parent company, Singapore-based Infomatics, who had previously migrated its servers and data to the cloud, confirmed Bettoni and his team’s decision to invest in IaaS
Working together to create seamless migration M247 worked with NCC Education to plan migration from its old physical platform of Dell servers and switches and onto the new virtual environment. A dedicated M247 engineer took charge of the project and remains on hand to deal with any issues. In order to ensure a smooth transition, NCC Education was keen that its IP address range was placed on its preferred subnet, and M247 worked with them to achieve this. The whole migration process was seamless with no interruption for users. A Microsoft Hyper-V virtual server is now on standby should there be a system failure so all virtual servers can be replicated and brought back up in minutes in the event of any system downtime.
A shared managed service While NCC Education takes care of its applications and servers, M247 provides and manages the infrastructure and firewall. M247 hosts the infrastructure from its secure datacentre in Manchester. Built using best of breed technology, its service offering includes performance, capacity and upgrades and is underpinned by a robust SLA. M247 is also responsible for hardware failure and replacments,
including a resilient gigabit Internet uplink. The service is charged at a fixed monthly cost that includes maintenance and repair costs. It is also scalable and can align with any of NCC Education’s changing application needs.
Now, thanks to IaaS, NCC Education has a robust disaster recovery plan in place, compliant with Ofqual’s business continuity requirements, and ensuring business as usual in the event of an incident that causes business downtime
“With M247 looking after IT infrastructure we have the peace of mind that failover is built in. We no longer have to rely on old backup tape that can take weeks to bring back on to our physical servers. M247’s expertise can bring back failed systems immediately. With IaaS, the IT team is now free to get on with other things rather than having to spend our time trouble shooting old servers and worrying about our old hardware failing. We also have a great relationship with our M247 dedicated engineer who’s happy to address any queries or issues we have along the way, as well as round-the-clock support if we need it. IaaS was the right choice for our business. When we considered the cost of continuing to rack space and replace our ageing infrastructure, IaaS offered a far more cost-effective proposition for us, now and in the future.”
NCC Education IT Support Manager, Steve Bettoni