Sheffield Hallam University Case Study: From Enforced Covid Closure to Full Datacentre Migration in 12 Weeks

Sheffield Hallam University needed to quickly pivot when COVID-19 shuttered its campuses in the middle of an ongoing datacentre migration.

Multiple Challenges: The sudden loss of these rooms as a student resource was a chief concern for the university, as many students lacked the funds to purchase their own high-end computers. Also, as part of an ambitious 20-year campus redesign, the building that housed its primary datacentre was earmarked for demolition. Finally, whilst the datacentre itself was by no means at end of life, it was beginning to show signs of age. Sheffield Hallam had a decision to make.

The Solution: After conferring with Microsoft and CoreAzure about the situation, Microsoft funded a proof of concept. CoreAzure visited the university, demonstrated how the solution worked, and showed how it could quickly be scaled to meet student needs. “We loved that the Azure Virtual Desktop backend wasn’t something we’d need to maintain ourselves,” says Dave Thornley, Head of Digital Architecture. “Managing that sort of service can be incredibly complicated, and we had our hands full.”

The Outcome: In just 12 weeks, Sheffield Hallam University rolled out the largest Azure Lab Services client in the United Kingdom. In the same timeframe, it also established a brand-new remote learning model with Azure Virtual Desktop. All this was done with the majority of its IT resources still managing outdated on-premises infrastructure. Now, having broken the shackles of ongoing maintenance and updates, Sheffield Hallam is poised to create a truly formidable educational space in the cloud.

Client feedback: 
We’ve certainly got full use out of the scalability Azure offers. In the past few months, we’ve gone from hundreds to thousands of students using and relying on Azure Virtual Desktop for their classwork.” Simon Briggs - Director of Digital Technology

 “Azure Lab Services functions a lot like Azure Virtual Desktop. It works so well for us that we went from deployment to being the largest consumers of the service in just 12 weeks.”  Dave Thornley- Head of Digital Architecture

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