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Posted: 3/20/2013
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Flint IT U.K. IT Services Firm Offers Cloud Platform for Leading Tuition Services Provider

Flint IT in the United Kingdom (U.K.) wanted to develop hosted desktop solutions in the cloud for clients. Microsoft Silver Partner AppLayer recommended its White Label Box platform to create a complete cloud-based infrastructure for an online education tuition service that conducts 80 per cent of its business during the Easter break. Flint IT clients now get structured environments at a fixed cost, and no longer have to worry about downtime or resourcing.

Business Needs

Flint IT—Microsoft Small Business Partner and Silver OEM Partner—offers IT support services to small and medium-sized enterprises. Recognising a market shift towards cloud-based hosted desktop services, the firm actively sought to expand its cloud portfolio.

A leading education tuition services provider in the U.K. was one of the first Flint IT customers. It provides tutoring and revision courses to secondary school students across the country who are sitting public examinations. The company was planning to move offices so it wanted to avoid any downtime, and ensure business continuity and disaster recovery. Jeremy Curtis, Managing Director, Flint IT, says: “Initially, we had an immediate requirement for a single sign-on platform to allow co-management and support of our client, which both students and staff could use.”

The online tuition specialist also decided to expand the solution to include Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, a hosted version of Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP2, a customised Microsoft Dynamics CRM build, Microsoft Application Virtualization, and web servers. Curtis says: “We wanted to build the integrated solution for our customer as a private cloud using Microsoft technology. This would allow us to manage our own domain controllers and data servers. As a private build, it would help us partition resources for developers and consultants to work on the user’s customised customer relationship management (CRM) coding and requirements.”

The financial model offered to customers through cloud services was valuable to the tuition services provider. Curtis says: “Our customer is a seasonal business, with 80 per cent of demand during the Easter break, when students are revising ahead of their summer examinations.”

Solution

Flint IT approached AppLayer about its White Label Box partner programme. This offers a complete IT-as-a-service cloud solution with a full range of Microsoft products to resellers and their clients.

David Organ, Technical Services Manager, AppLayer, says: “We’ve created the service to be flexible and intuitive. Permissions are delegated through our proprietary Cloud Control Panel 2012, which uses Windows PowerShell, Active Directory, and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008.”

The first release of White Label Box runs almost entirely on Microsoft identity management, collaboration, desktop, and server technologies, which go directly to AppLayer customers from data centres in the U.K. and the U.S. For strategic partnerships, customised Microsoft solutions and integration directly into partner or client data centres is available.

Organ says: “We’ve been running a mixture of private cloud and multitenant solutions for our clients. Having started with Microsoft System Center 2008 R2 and products from the System Center 2008 suite, we look forward to upgrading to Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1 and the Windows Server 2012 operating system with Hyper-V virtualisation technology. They will form the core of our infrastructure.”

The integration within the control panel has now been completed and tested within System Center 2012 SP1 while in beta release. Organ says: “This will allow a much wider depth of self-provisioning cloud services by our partners, including private cloud and virtual servers. We’re also looking at Microsoft Lync 2013 unified communications software.”

In addition, AppLayer plans to release the Operations Manager component of System Center 2012 SP1 as a service. Curtis says: “Flint IT has requested access as a beta tester—this will allow us to monitor clients on virtual servers and the private cloud.”

Benefits

Flint IT has transformed its business by moving its managed IT support services to secure data centres and the private cloud. Its partnership with AppLayer has resulted in a highly successful deployment for an education tuition services provider, which scales its offering to meet spikes in demand. Flint IT has expanded its cloud offering with the latest version of the Microsoft System Center suite.

Academic centre moves identity management to the cloud. The education services provider migrated its public-facing infrastructure to the cloud with the White Label Box service. Curtis says: “The monthly costs are significantly less than an on-premises solution and there’s no need for physical servers. An on-premises server with the same level of resilience would have cost more than £20,000. The new service can easily scale to meet peaks in demand over the Easter period, when large volumes of students take part in revision courses.”

Self-provisioning and billing platform is available to partners. AppLayer provides multiple Microsoft products—including Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010—through its self-provisioning and billing platform. It offers customers one bill and a single service-level agreement.

Customers receive services from secure data centres. Flint IT provides hosted desktop services directly to customers from secure data centres in the U.K. and U.S. Organ adds: “Our data centres have high availability and ISO 270001 compliance and accreditation, which pass the hosting requirements of most businesses.”

Flint IT avoids upfront costs with AppLayer. Curtis says: “The flexibility of services such as Microsoft hosted desktop mean we can give our clients structured environments for a fixed price, so they don’t have to worry about under or over resourcing, incompatibility, or downtime. We’ve also avoided the need to invest in new physical servers. The flexibility of the technology and licensing has also meant we can approach customers in a variety of ways and customise our offerings to their specific needs.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 10 employees

Organization Profile

Flint IT, founded in 2005 in Dunstable, the United Kingdom, provides customer-centric managed IT services to small and medium-sized enterprises.


Software and Services
Microsoft System Center

Vertical Industries
Hosters & ISPs

Country/Region
United Kingdom

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Applayer

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