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Case Study

Softcat’s Azure AAA service establishes firm foundation for Citadel Chambers’ cloud migration

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Citadel Chambers is one of Birmingham’s longest established legal practices. Throughout its long history it has established a reputation for maintaining the highest possible professional standards and developing flexible and innovative approaches to modern law.

It provides legal representation across all disciplines – ranging from criminal proceedings to regulatory work – and has an extensive team of respected law professionals, many of whom hold part-time judicial appointments. It offers a nationwide service through close collaboration with other, carefully selected UK-based law firms.

As with any modern business, access to reliable and secure IT resources is essential to the smooth running of the organisation.

Law 1258 x 1000

Key Facts

  • Extensive advocacy portfolio incorporating criminal, regulatory and business law
  • Provides access to a wide range of experienced barristers
  • Committed to adding value and streamlining services

The Challenge

Citadel Chambers was reliant on an ageing on-premise IT infrastructure. Stefan Gates, IT Manager, recognised that replacing the existing on-premise technologies would be both expensive and a backward step given the emergence of cloud-based alternatives. Having worked with Softcat before, on an Office 365 implementation, he understood the product knowledge it brings to the table.

“Dealing with Softcat in the past provided an insight into the extensive real-world experience its team delivers when considering alternative technologies for businesses like ours,” said Stefan. “I believed that a cloud-based Microsoft Azure platform was capable of providing the functionality, security and resilience we would need going forward. I reached out to Softcat to clarify that my proposed solution would also enable visibility of spend, automation of essential functions, provide a suite of tools to simplify infrastructure management and confirm I was making the right decision.”

Critical success factors

  • Investigate suitable replacement for existing on-premise IT infrastructure
  • Understand the implications of migrating to cloud-based infrastructure
  • Procure a resilient, secure and high-performing replacement platform


The Solution

"Softcat is a provider you can rely on. It's always willing to add value wherever it can" - Stefan Gates, IT Manager, Citadel

Softcat is the UK’s leading Azure partner, with gold accreditations across a range of Microsoft competencies, including security, datacentre and a host of other essential business functions. It has a dedicated Azure Automated Adoption Accelerator (AAA) service that’s specifically designed to assist clients with migration to a cloud-based future.

Errol McKenzie, Technical Consultant -Public Cloud at Softcat came on board to ensure the move to Azure would deliver exactly what Stefan needed.

“Our Azure AAA service establishes the foundational building blocks that enable clients to take advantage of everything Azure has to offer, quickly and effectively,” said Errol. “It’s an opportunity to formulate a targeted outline of what can be achieved and understand exactly how this can tie in with our client’s forward-looking aspirations. In this instance, Stefan already had a good understanding of what was required but needed confirmation that his choices were a suitable fit for the business.”

“To some extent, I didn’t know what questions to ask,” said Stefan. “I have responsibility for all of Citadel Chambers’ IT and while I have a good understanding of the wider IT landscape, having Errol alongside ensured I had someone to fill in any gaps in my knowledge. Although the Azure AAA service is focused on those with little to no knowledge of Azure, it proved to be particularly helpful in establishing exactly what I needed to do for every aspect of the business.

“Errol put in a tremendous amount of work. It began with a fact checking exercise and then evolved into specific guidance around establishing the networking, virtual machine and security configurations capable of delivering a resilient, high-performing all-in-one IT platform. He also leveraged pre-prepared templates to minimise the work involved in achieving a successful migration to the new platform. He basically got on with the majority of the work in the background, which meant I had minimal involvement in the process.”

The solution implementation was achieved in a single day, including a lift and shift exercise to migrate essential data and services onto the new system. “Throughout the process, Errol was on hand to answer any questions I had. His networking expertise and knowledge around establishing Azure Site Recovery (ASR), a dedicated disaster recovery (DR) function, SQL server Backup and storage and a VPN Gateway was particularly welcome,” said Stefan.


Solution highlights

  • Azure Automated Adoption Accelerator (AAA) Service to assist with migration to cloud services
  • Extensive background work to ensure a fit-for-purpose solution
  • Collaborative process to share Networking, Security and Disaster Recovery knowledge


The Benefits

“Azure is not my speciality,” said Stefan, “so having Errol and the wider Softcat team on hand to offer support was tremendously useful. Being solely responsible for delivering IT services to what is a relatively small business, the level of knowledge and industry-proven experience Softcat provided really helped me make a success of the project.

“Errol genuinely added value to the process and provided the sort of consultancy that would, in my experience, have come at considerable cost from other providers free of charge. The support I received was also exceptional. I never had to chase, and I was presented with a workable solution that saved me hours of potential work. It was very much a case of, ‘here’s what the Azure platform provides and here’s what it can do for you.’ It meant I understood the solution’s full capabilities from day one and could rapidly implement enhanced IT services across the business.”

From an operational perspective, the Azure solution has significantly enhanced resilience through the Azure environment’s all-in-one backup and DR capabilities. The new platform is more agile and outperforms the previous on-premise solution on every metric. Its capacity to scale according to business need ensures that it can cope with future demands and Citadel Chambers’ staff have the peace of mind that they can access important information and applications securely, via the cloud, from any location.

“The Azure solution delivers from every angle,” said Stefan. “It’s a huge improvement on what we had before, comes with excellent support services, and is also great value for money.”

Benefits at a glance

  • Free-of-charge, high level consultancy
  • Enhanced operational agility, security and resilience
  • Ongoing technical support


Why Softcat?

“I’ve recently started contracting for Citadel Chambers and wanted to make significant changes in how it did things. Softcat was the first provider I thought of contacting,” said Stefan. “I knew from past experience the technical and sectoral expertise it would provide, and as the project progressed, I wasn’t disappointed.

“Softcat is a provider you can rely on. It’s always willing to add value wherever it can –even if that means working out of hours to get the job done or carrying out extensive preparatory work to make the project run smoothly. As a smaller business, I feel we get the same levels of service enjoyed by bigger organisations, which isn’t always the case when dealing with technology providers.”


Migrate to a cloud-based infrastructure with Softcat