The Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust in the United Kingdom (U.K.) is implementing a next-generation IT infrastructure for three secondary schools using a common platform. Microsoft System Center 2012 will deliver unified management while the
trust upgrades its learning environment and introduces unified communications. By sharing its infrastructure across three schools, the trust will make significant licensing savings.
The Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust is a multiple academy educational trust incorporated in March 2011, with Swavesey Village College in Cambridgeshire being the first and lead academy. It now includes Nene Park Academy in Peterborough, and, from mid-2013,
The Manor School in Cambridge—with a fourth school expected to join. The trust aims to provide a secure, scalable IT network to aid learning and business processes across all its academies. A major boost to its plans to enhance IT opportunities for students
came when Peterborough City Council awarded Nene Park Academy £15 million (U.S.$23 million) to fund a rebuild of the school.
Matt Sampson, IT Manager, Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust, says: “The building project created the opportunity for a new data centre and a complete upgrade of the IT infrastructure to introduce next-generation technology, including unified communications.
The aim is to roll out the platform to the other schools in the trust, creating a common, cost-effective infrastructure. As a result, we’ll improve the productivity of our teachers and equip all our students for the workplace of tomorrow by introducing business-level
facilities to the classroom.”
The project will involve upgrading some technologies already in use within the trust, including the Microsoft SharePoint learning platform. But Sampson and his colleagues also wanted to give staff and students new ways to communicate, including instant messaging,
and voice and video conferencing. He says: “Not only will students and staff be able to work on projects from home after the school day ends, but they’ll also have the tools to conduct web-based conferences with other academies and partner schools from abroad.”
Working with Intercept IT—a Microsoft Gold Partner for virtualisation—the trust is delivering the infrastructure supported by Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1 for unified and automated management. A new instance of Active Directory has been created along
with the data centres using Hyper-V technology, all based on the Windows Server 2012 operating system.
David Knappett, Consultant, Intercept IT, says: “Workstations across the three academy sites will be joined to the new domain using Microsoft System Center 2012 to deploy the Windows 8 operating system through Configuration Manager. It is combined with thin
clients connecting to Remote Desktop Services session hosts and virtual desktops. System Center 2012 and its key components—including Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, and Configuration Manager—will ensure that the trust needs only one central IT
services team with visibility across the whole estate.”
The trust will use Microsoft Application Virtualization 5.0 where appropriate to deliver applications to users across Remote Desktop Services, Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, and traditional workstations and laptops.
The trust already uses Microsoft SharePoint technology for its learning platform and key business processes, which will be supported by Microsoft SQL Server 2012. Sampson says: “By upgrading to Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 and Microsoft Office 2013,
we can add exciting social media features, which will help teachers enrich the learning experience. This gives us the technology of tomorrow.”
The solution will also include Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 and Microsoft Lync 2013 with Enterprise Voice, providing a unified approach to communications and delivering business-ready capabilities to the classroom. The trust is achieving a considerable
saving through the Microsoft Open Value Subscription Education Solution Agreement, which is designed for schools and higher education institutions with a full-time employee count of less than 1,000.
By September 2013, the trust will use the latest Microsoft server products across its three academy schools for the price of one. Its new infrastructure—which is underpinned by Microsoft System Center 2012 for unified management—delivers a high-quality educational
experience to young people in Cambridgeshire. Not only is the trust cutting costs through the licensing agreement, but it is also giving students the technology they need to be prepared for the workplace of the future.
Transformation saves money and creates economies of scale. With four schools sharing a common infrastructure by the end of 2013, the trust will achieve significant economies of scale. Sampson says: “We’re making savings in hardware, but
also in the time required to maintain the system. The licensing agreement alone reduces our licensing costs by 60 to 70 per cent compared to each school having its own IT system.”
Teachers and students work from a common platform. Using the Microsoft Unified Communications suite, teachers and students will communicate using a range of options, including instant messaging, and voice and video conferencing. Teachers
switching between schools for different duties will use single sign-on and no longer need to carry data saved on USB storage devices. “With Microsoft Lync, we will also engage more effectively with other academies and allied schools abroad,” says Sampson.
IT students get a full virtual desktop infrastructure. The new infrastructure promises to deliver a full desktop infrastructure to all IT students. Sampson says: “This will help them learn how to use several different operating systems and
other products in a secure way, and make it easy to revisit each lesson.”
All students will be better equipped for the workplace of tomorrow. The leap forward in technology made possible by the licensing agreement and capital investment from Peterborough City Council will help give students the advanced IT skills
they need for the workplace. Sampson says: “The employers we speak to tell us that they want to recruit young people with the latest IT skills in technologies other than the Office suite—from 2013, we can deliver on that commitment thanks to Microsoft.”
This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.