CASE STUDY

Manchester Metropolitan University: a complete Azure transformation

With more than 40,000 students and 4,000 members of staff, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) needed to bring its technology services on par with its extensive academic record to solidify its commitment to the ever-changing nature of work and study.

Revolutionising work to answer modern needs

For many years, MMU had relied on an ageing, on-premise infrastructure. As part of a modern, cloud-first strategy, the university wanted to modernise its digital infrastructure, with a hybrid cloud position to support a best-in-class virtual environment in a new Azure VMware Solution (AVS) environment.

Services

Professional Services (Azure)
Cloud Migration

Industry

Education

Organisation size

40,000+

Completion Date

October 2023

Challenge

The desire for a complete overhaul of their digital environment came at a time when MMU felt it was relying on technologies that no longer met the needs of modern business. The university was looking to improve productivity and efficiency in a scalable environment properly reflecting the requirements of its users.

The aim was to refocus teams away from frequent and time-consuming tasks, as well as avoiding the increasing security and compliance vulnerabilities that reduction in vendor support for legacy hardware would introduce, in a hybrid cloud position using VMware.

With a multi-faceted approach – MMU still needed to retain certain on-premises hosting abilities for specific workloads – the challenge was building and onboarding a new Azure Landing Zone and AVS within the existing Azure tenant.

Approach

The current infrastructure had reached a point where change was required and a detailed cloud assessment and discovery phase was run to identify suitable workloads for migration. This was carried out in tandem with workshops and interviews to build a clear understanding of the existing architecture.

A crucial detail of this Azure environment build was MMU’s ability to take advantage of extended security updates, as well as having the scalability to meet the on-demand capacity and high levels of availability the university regularly requires.

We held open conversations with the university throughout to ensure the project was developed in line with all requirements and expectations. This enabled us to deliver the project promptly and securely, with timely conversations and collaboration keeping all parties aware of responsibilities and timeframes. 

Solution

AVS provided a path which allowed for a fast migration without introducing the complexities of new technology, easing the university’s capital expenditure as well as allowing them to retain their own infrastructure team.

The design included Azure Landing Zone, AVS environment and network connectivity, meaning the underlying Azure platform hosting the migrated servers would be cost-effective, easy to manage and secure. We followed Microsoft best practice and the Cloud Adoption Framework throughout. 

As part of the build, we:

  • Used the VMware HCX mobility platform to establish a service mesh across on-premises and AVS.
  • Migrated existing virtual machines via a lift and shift migration.
  • Repurposed and implemented existing MMU tools for monitoring and backup.

 

In all, 500 virtual machines were migrated from VMware to Azure with a 98.5% first-time migration success rate. As part of the transformation, MMU received Early Life Support, ensuring a smooth and risk-free transition to their team.

Outcomes

  • Design, build and implement an Azure Landing Zone to host MMU’s cloud resources.
  • Implement a private-cloud environment within the Landing Zone to host MMU’s virtual estate.
  • Fully managed migration of MMU’s virtual server estate. with post-migration support.
  • Reduction in hosting and on-premises maintenance costs, resulting in more predictable ongoing costs.
  • Improvement in MMU’s environmental footprint.
  • Alignment and greater compliance with MMU’s cloud-first strategy. 
  • Greater insight into and remediation of security threats and compliance issues.
  • Technical handover of the new environment to MMU’s support teams.

The Future

Following the successful adoption of AVS, MMU engaged Advania to help design and implement a new on-premises HCI solution.

In response, we designed and architected an 8-node VMware stretched vSAN ESA cluster across two sites, migrating approximately 110 virtual machines to the new environment.

"Working with Advania has been a great experience. The team are very skilled and knowledgeable in many areas, including Azure, VMware and Cisco, which has ensured a successful delivery for MMU's hybrid hosting solutions. It absolutely feels like a partnership - very flexible and continuously adjusting to the needs of the project - which has ensured a smooth transition in a period of significant infrastructural change for the university."

Claire Peers

MMU Project Manager

Products and Services

  • Azure Professional Services
  • Cloud Migration

Our Impact

Take a look at some of the results that stood out for MMU.

0

VMs migrated in total

0 %

migration success rate

40

on-premises hosts replaced by an 11-node AVS cluster and 8-node on-premises cluster.

Let’s find out how we can help you

Whether you’re facing similar challenges to peers across your industry, or you have a unique need for something different – speak to us to find out what we can do.

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