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Customer Story: Northamptonshire County Council

Giving local authorities greater support...

...so they can better serve their community

Fuse is committed to bringing best practice into every sector, whether business, non-profit or education. Local authorities have a classic combination of challenges and requirements, whether in terms of budgets, deadlines, or the number of users who need to access information and services. Microsoft's packages are uniquely suited to meeting these needs successfully and exceeding expectations, and Fuse is delighted to recommend their use and tailor them to specific circumstances.

About Northamptonshire County Council

Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) is a governing body for Northamptonshire. It serves a community of approximately 692,000. NCC provides over a hundred different services and it is essential for the council to provide fast, up-to-date web services that are easily accessible.

As part of their Customer Relationship Strategy 2012–2015 NCC continues to identify services from across the council where the first contact can be supported through web and digital channels. This enables the Customer Service Centre staff to devote more time to focus on supporting more complex and sensitive services where customers need to talk to someone.

The project

Organisational priorities and budgetary constraints

As with any local authority, Northamptonshire County Council is committed to seeking best value for money with any of its contracts, based on achieving 'an appropriate balance between Economy, Efficiently and Effectiveness'.

As such, NCC would be required to commit to an annual fixed contract with an increase in resources to support the SharePoint 2013 farm, and this was seen to be prohibitive with the many changes due in the coming months/years.

Furthermore, Local Government Shared Services, who NCC are part of, are looking to build their own hosting environments and move their hosting back into an on-premises environment. This needed to also be considered when deciding on a hosting provider.

Other challenges

  • Aging platform
  • Flexibility of platform resources
  • Increasingly costly
  • Annual fixed contract would be detrimental

Fuse's solutions

Being a Microsoft Azure partner and having worked successfully with other customers to build large-scale SharePoint farms on Azure, we found the reliability, features and flexibility surpass that of any hosting environment we had come across. We were therefore able to advise the customer why it may be beneficial to switch to Azure.

The benefits

Microsoft Azure is a cloud based platform that provides on-demand infrastructure and services. The platform can scale and adapt according to the business’ changing needs, providing best-in-class price-performance and end-to-end support.

Azure gives customers the option to create additional servers that can be switched on and off and payment would only be required for servers which are running. Another attractive feature is the ability to resize servers and increase resources quickly and easily whereas increasing resources in a traditional setup would be time-consuming and costly.

Azure’s VPN gateway and virtual networking have also enabled Fuse to build the internet environment as a virtual extension to NCC’s own datacentre, adding further flexibility and ease of deployment.

 

  • Speed of delivery
  • Limited up-front costs and investment
  • Enterprise level uptime and availability against a 99.95% Service Level Agreement
  • Easy remote access
  • Familiar support environment
  • Management through an online portal
  • Total cost is for all servers and services per month

Outcomes

By choosing Azure, Fuse was able to migrate the 2007 site across and launch the 2013 site on Azure. The platform was designed with high availability in mind by the use of availability sets, multiple instances in each service tier and load balancing. This has helped ensure service continuity in the event of failure or maintenance windows.

When NCC set up a subscription with Microsoft, improved pricing was given, along with access to the Azure super-portal. The Northamptonshire County Council Azure platform has now become more cost effective with its ‘pay for what you use’ scheme. The solution has been found to be highly flexible.

Fuse were able to deliver a solid platform which in turn has saved a significant amount of public money and enabled NCCs digital team to continue delivering services to the public.

The platform is fully monitored and supported by Fuse using Microsoft System Centre Operations Manager.

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