A trade and logistics organisation with critical national operations including transport, shipping, haulage and terminal operations, sought to define a new era of standardisation through a holistic Data Centre and Cloud transformation roadmap.
This included how platforms were designed, built and operated, as well as ensuring solutions were automated wherever possible to increase agility, and reduce operational complexity and risk.
The customer was an enterprise scale adopter of cloud, but with lots of planned expansion and need to standardise, it put trust in Softcat to ensure that reliability and automation were cornerstones of its cloud use.
- UK Transport and Logistics organisation dealing with critical national operations
- Seeking to standardise its technology provision including design, build and operations
- Highly regulated with holistic datacentre and cloud transformation programme of work
The strategy was to modernise the business by harnessing critical UK trade and logistics data to drive efficiency while increasing revenue and profitability.
But this was becoming increasingly difficult to achieve with a complex cloud environment, provisioned and maintained by numerous internal teams and partners, and minimal automation or standardisation.
The ask was somewhat simple.
Firstly, automate and standardise how cloud solutions are provisioned and maintained, to drive efficiency while reducing reliability risks from human error and reduce cost in turn. Secondly, simultaneously consolidate the number of teams/parties/partners responsible for said provisioning and management so that a partnership with a leading cloud managed service partner could be built.
The customer said: “Our cloud and hosting strategy was created to ensure we modernise our overall approach to provisioning and management, while leveraging more turn-key cloud solutions to maximise the huge volume of data points generated by the unique locations our business operates from. But we required the expertise of a best-in-class partner who had industrialised tools and process for automation as well as introducing policies to ensure current and future solutions conformed to central standards.”
Critical success factors
- Reduce technical debt arising from old ways of building and maintaining cloud platforms
- Optimise costs while improving operational reliability and automation
- Engagement with a best-in-class cloud managed service partner
Our engagement began with several workshops focused on overall IT strategy including cloud and datacentre, from where we delved into holistic approaches for provisioning and management. This highlighted several workstreams, as well as a critical need for architectural oversight to steer the strategy. Workstreams included:
Azure re-engineering – taking the existing manually deployed solutions and transforming/re-engineering them to be highly automated and pipeline driven, leveraging Softcat standards in tooling and process.
24x7x365 Azure PlatformOps – onboarding each transformed environment into the Softcat Managed Service to provide centralised support and ongoing optimisation.
Use of the Softcat Cloud Management Portal to ensure aggregated multi-cloud data points (reliability, security, cost and sustainability) into a single pane of glass.
Harnessing the power of the Softcat Partner ecosystem to leverage additional best-in-class partners for aspects such as database modernisation.
“Many organisations face similar challenges when cloud solutions are provisioned and maintained by several internal teams and third parties without central enforcement of standards and policies. In this instance the customer had already made the difficult decision to centralise this to Softcat as the new preferred partner for cloud, so that in the medium-term a highly automated and standardised way of working could be realised to drive the benefits desired by the cloud and hosting strategy. As part of this, Softcat was able to demonstrate its experience in building strategic partnerships coupled with our market-leading cloud expertise; ultimately underpinned by our recent recognition by Microsoft as one of 100 global Azure Expert MSP partners.” – Matt Larder, Head of Cloud at Softcat.
- 24x7x365 Azure PlatformOps
- Re-engineering of all platforms including Infrastructure as Code (IAC), automation pipelines and deployment scanning
- Ongoing architectural oversight to help shape new projects in line with best practice and operational efficiency
The key results are:
- A highly automated and standardised Azure platform with a Softcat 24x7x365 managed service for PlatformOps to ensure continuous governance (architecture, commercial, security and reliability)
- A future-proof platform leveraging market leading tools and process for IAC and automation pipelines
- Adoption of Softcat standards for IAC misconfiguration scanning and compliance automation, including Microsoft Azure Policy enforcement via Softcat-tailored policies based on the Azure Security Benchmark.
“The end-to-end process was extremely efficient, including the reverse engineering of our existing Azure platform, solutions and workloads from a manual provisioning method to that of highly automated and efficient process, leveraging Softcat skills and standards. We’re looking forward to the future of the partnership with Softcat any many cloud-based projects we can now tackle with peace of mind that we have the right controls and services to underpin our business and customer data.” – Customer spokesperson.
At a glance
- Reduction in technical debt that arose from legacy platform automation
- A mature partner to provide 24x7x365 Microsoft Azure PlatformOps
- Programmatic provisioning and management of the Azure platform via IAC (Terraform by Hashicorp) and automated pipelines (GitHub Actions)