The Challenge 

Our client presented a challenge to Westgate’s Bristol team that came about due to the pandemic and the difficulties faced with communication and access for multiple team members remotely.

They decided that they would no longer need such a large office space to work in and that their staff would be able to fulfil their daily tasks remotely.

Supporting teachers and sharing resources, the business now has a thriving community of more than 480,000 teachers communicating their ideas, coming together and finding inspiration.

The requirement was straight forward: “We all need to work remotely and securely. We need all the benefits of having an in-house server, but we don’t want any servers. All computers must be continually patched, virus checkers kept up to date and we need a phone system.”

Our First Thought – Cloud Computing

Using Cloud-based services allows the data backup and recovery process to become much easier, meaning that a remote working team can all access the resources they need easily and safely. With the increase of remote working for many businesses, our client highlighted just how important Cloud computing is for businesses now in 2020.

Our Business Solution

We already had a similar solution in place for other clients, with the majority having a Hybrid Cloud solution with a mix and match of Cloud and on-site servers. The proposed solution was to create a fully Cloud-based solution that was planned and implemented by our dedicated projects team.

We created a Cloud-based Azure Active Directory (AD) to securely organise the company’s users and computers on a company-wide level rather than an individual. The AD would also be linked to Microsoft 365 to provide single sign-on to a multitude of products, using our industry-leading support toolset to manage the client’s desktops, laptops and mobile devices from a central location.

The Westgate team used Remote Management & Monitoring (RMM) software for Patch Management, Software Deployment and Full Configuration Management Database CMDB software. It is suitable for small and medium as well as large businesses.

Antivirus software was then configured to update from the Cloud and disk encryption managed from within the Active directory. The data store on the in-house servers was copied and uploaded to the new Azure File Store.

Currently, the data on the file store is at the request of the client and mapped to network drives the same as any normal windows share with shares and file systems permissions set as they were before using groups from the Active Directory.

Microsoft SharePoint, as part of the Microsoft 365 subscription, was used for certain sets of data with Microsoft OneDrive being used to ensure a cloud copy of local data.

Some 95% of the software the company use can be deployed using our RMM toolset. We also deployed a self-service portal accessible from the client’s desktop so that in the future, the client can install approved software. Our managed security service, Pro Secure, was the perfect addition for the client’s IT strategy.

Through our service, it was possible to achieve two key goals. First and foremost, to enhance and better protect their data and IT infrastructure and, secondly, to operate at a level compliant with the government-backed scheme Cyber Essentials.

Oh, and the Phone System!

The client was already familiar with Microsoft Teams and, using Microsoft 365 Business Voice, we were able to port the clients existing telephone numbers across and implement a fully functional VOIP telephone system in no time.

The Outcome

From the client’s perspective, they open up their workstation and it just works. Mapped drives are where they should be, the SharePoint structure is the same, Outlook works as it should and the Teams phone system required absolutely no training at all.

From a technical point of view, our client is working with a fully patched and secure workstation. Local and remote data is backed up and it is secure. We can see from our portal that every device remotely controls it to provide support as well as monitor and manage patching. It’s even possible for us to rebuild the workstations remotely. We managed the AD and associated users from one central point allowing us to make changes across the whole organisation.