The U.K. Ministry of Defence (MOD) wanted to demonstrate value for money from its critical IT assets and avoid the risk of downtime for its 180,000 users. It used the Microsoft Services Premier Support agreement and Microsoft Dedicated Supportability Engineers (DSEs) to ensure that it optimises its technical infrastructure and delivers the best service possible. The MOD also gained from the knowledge transfer to its staff. Minimising downtime alone is saving the ministry millions of pounds.
The engineering team in the MOD Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) Group ensures that the ministry’s technical infrastructure is fit for purpose by using the skills of its people and further developing their competences. The MOD has a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement for Volume Licensing, giving low-cost access to software. Additionally, the DII has a Microsoft Services Premier Support contract, as well as a separate agreement with Microsoft Services.
Doug Banks, from the DII Engineering Team at the MOD, says: “I’m responsible for contract delivery to ensure value for money for the taxpayer and that the MOD critical service priorities are met. Microsoft provides the majority of our core software both in the U.K. and overseas. We felt that Microsoft Services was uniquely placed to offer the best support for products we have already deployed, because its experts have the most up-to-date knowledge. We also thought Microsoft could most effectively communicate the roadmap for products and support in the future and provide advice on virtualisation and green IT initiatives.”
With the MOD dependent on reliable and robust IT systems, any downtime could potentially risk lives as well as cost the taxpayer millions of pounds. The DII wanted support from experts capable of managing proactive risk assessments, advising on remediation and dealing quickly and effectively with technical challenges. Mr. Banks says: “It’s important for our support engineers to communicate to both technical and non-technical audiences, and to brief our subject-matter experts and management team as required.”Solution
Premier Support provides several Microsoft DSEs as well as Technical Account Managers (TAMs). They work seamlessly with Microsoft Services Information Technology Architecture and Planning (ITAP) consultants, Microsoft product groups, and the MOD Microsoft operations specialist.
Mr. Banks says: “Our Microsoft DSEs fulfil eight roles within the MOD, in Microsoft product areas such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, and Windows SharePoint Services. With such a large infrastructure, we need to ensure that design and implementation are completed in line with proven Microsoft best practice gained from years of working alongside thousands of customers, while taking into consideration our own roadmap for the use of Microsoft products.”
Having DSEs means the MOD gets in-depth technical briefings that focus on its deployment of Microsoft products bought under the Enterprise Agreement. DSEs also carry out risk assessment programmes for the Microsoft product areas and assist with any remediation that’s needed. Mr. Banks adds: “The DSEs bring with them knowledge and support from Microsoft at a corporate level—this is what makes the difference in the speed and quality of resolution. The DSEs protect us from considerable cost and risk.”
The TAMs are responsible for focusing the DSEs’ time in the right direction using Service Delivery Plans (SDPs) so they avoid becoming distracted by issues that are not aligned with MOD objectives. Mr. Banks says: “The SDP is the prime tool to articulate the deliverables and priorities for the service provided under the contract. The SDP is updated and reviewed regularly to reflect the continuing evolution of our business.”Benefits
The DSEs bring detailed product awareness and expertise to the MOD, plus knowledge of Microsoft best practice and other Microsoft customer experiences. The DSEs mitigate operational risk through a proactive approach to support, as well as by applying their expertise to resolve incidents in the U.K. and overseas. Mr. Banks says: “The DSEs have great drive and passion. They resolve issues quickly and efficiently, and, as a result, we save millions of pounds by avoiding system downtime.”
Ensures business continuity. Time is a critical factor to ensure business continuity because any downtime potentially puts lives at risk, as well as loses money. Mr. Banks says: “Our Microsoft DSEs often work late into the night until a problem is fixed—they can solve issues in a couple of days that could take a week by other means and cause damage to our reputation and delivery of service.”
Focuses training. The DSEs are skilled communicators as well as technical experts who provide training customised to the audience and transfer knowledge to the in-house IT team. When the MOD wanted to deploy the Windows 7 operating system, the DSEs set up a specialised session to demonstrate to users the improvements in Windows 7 compared with their current operating systems.
Delivers better service to users. The TAMs own the delivery of Premier Support for the MOD using SDPs to ensure that the service fully supports the customer’s objectives. This allows them to highlight risks, trends, issues, and have a plan to address them. The MOD then works with the TAMs to prioritise where the focus should be.
Helps to overcome critical issues. Mr. Banks says: “The TAMs act as our eyes and ears, making us aware of information relevant to our business. They seek to overcome an issue before it becomes a problem. The DSEs possess unique skills. This, together with the knowledge they have of how we use the technology, helps us to optimise the service we deliver to our user. Should a critical issue arise it can be quickly resolved.”
Increases strategic focus. The MOD is moving up the scale in its IT maturity model due to the Microsoft approach involving both Premier Support and Microsoft Enterprise Architects. Mr. Banks says: “We are also making measurable savings in resource terms by completing a Value Model, which aims to identify costs that we avoided by preventative and reactive work.”
Provides trusted advisor. Through Premier Support, the MOD has gained a trusted advisor able to communicate the roadmap for products and support into the future. Mr. Banks says: “Around 25 per cent of the value of Premier Support is the relationship with Microsoft. The DSEs, their technical knowledge, and the application of it have exceeded my expectations. The TAMs work across the broad IT function and assist us in identifying areas where IT needs to improve the service it delivers to users. They then plan the various Premier Support resources available to help achieve that improved service.”This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.