Migrate more than 24,000 e-learning sessions from AWS to Azure with minimal disruption to its one million users

Entire migration was completed over one weekend.

> Significant cost savings through its Microsoft Enterprise Agreement.
> Access to the latest cloud services and software licenses means they keep up with the rapidly changing technology landscape.
> The DevOps team is now able to see and make changes to previously inaccessible servers with Role Based Access Controls in place.
> With a Velocity Support contract in place they have access to Sol-Tec’s expertise whenever the need arises.

Leaving AWS for Azure helps one million NHS and social care staff deliver better outcomes

As a public body it is vital that we demonstrate value for money, which meant we needed greater performance and control at a more reasonable cost. Sol-Tec made this possible. They gave us the autonomy we wanted to administrate and develop our own cloud environment, support to upskill our own workforce plus, we now benefit from an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft, which affords us some pretty hefty discounts.

Adrian Murphy, Senior Support Analyst, e-LfH

With the work they have done for e-LfH, Sol-Tec has demonstrated the power of Azure to outclass AWS in both a technical and commercial sense. With their PUBSEC methodology and Landing Zone IP, they’re also able to overcome a common fear that many organisations have about cloud migration being time consuming and complicated. The e-LfH application plays a vital role to patient care by educating and training the health and social care workforce – I am proud that it’s hosted on Azure.

Jo Jarvis, Azure Principle Solution Specialist, Microsoft

We are already working with Sol-Tec on the next phase of our project to implement PaaS services such as Azure DevOps, Azure Web Apps and Azure SQL and, with a recently announced facelift to our e-Learning platform, we know we can depend on Sol-Tec to help us deliver this with success.

Adrian Murphy, Senior Support Analyst, e-LfH

Who is e-LfH?

e-Learning for Healthcare (e-LfH) is a Health Education England (HEE) Programme working in partnership with the NHS and professional bodies to support patient care by providing e-learning to educate and train the health and social care workforce.

Why Azure?

With one million users requiring access to an ever-expanding library of more than 24,000 e-learning sessions, e-LfH required a highly available, scaleable platform to ensure it could meet both its existing and growing demands without issue.

There was also a need to rationalise the IT departments at e-LfH and HEE and as part of this process, the decision was reached that e-LfH would replace its AWS environment and move into HEE’s Azure subscription. In this way, e-LfH would benefit significantly from the cost savings offered through HEE’s existing Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA).

This came at a time when e-LfH was already feeling it had outgrown the support model with its existing hosting provider and was looking to gain more autonomy in managing its cloud applications and infrastructure.

With this organisational drive to adopt an Azure-only environment, e-LfH prepared a rigorous tender process to seek a better fit solution and partner.

Sol-Tec is a Microsoft Gold Cloud Partner and Gold Cloud Productivity Partner and, among several other Microsoft accolades, is one in a handful of UK organisations to have Microsoft Azure Black Belt Partner status and one of just seven partners in Europe to be awarded a Microsoft Express Route SI partnership. This long list of accreditations not only impressed e-LfH but set the bar against which other RFP submissions were measured.

Sol-Tec’s extensive experience and expertise in Azure for public sector organisations, alongside its willingness to give e-LfH autonomy to administrate its cloud environment, is what also set Sol-Tec apart from its competitors in the bid, which included e-LfH’s cloud partner at the time.

What really impressed us about Sol-Tec was the in-depth, bona fide knowledge of Azure that Paul Collins demonstrated at our first encounter and which we soon realised permeated the entire Sol-Tec Cloud team. Coupled with its extensive understanding of public sector requirements and its impressive Microsoft Partner accreditations, we emerged from our rigorous tender process with the utmost confidence that Sol-Tec was the right partner for us.
Adrian Murphy,
Senior Support Analyst, e-LfH

Migrating from AWS to Azure

The long-term ambition for e-LfH is to move to a PaaS architecture, which will enable it to take advantage of containerisation and improve the e-Learning experience for users via AI.

The first step in the journey towards this end goal was to move the servers that power the storage and accessibility of e-LfH’s virtual learning environment and resources, from AWS over to Azure virtual machines (VMs). e-LfH leveraged Sol-Tec’s Velocity Landing Zone to automate the setup of a secure and scaleable Azure environment, which meant e-LfH were all set to commence the migration phase of the project in a matter of days.

As for the migration itself, a key priority was to keep system downtime to an absolute minimum, given users could require access to its e-Learning resources at any point in the week, day or night. However, the fact remained that some components would need to be stopped during the migration process and transferring its mission critical database, along with sizeable assets including its video content library, learning records and documents would take a fair while. All this meant that some downtime would be inevitable.

For this reason, it was agreed that e-LfH’s entire Windows and Linux server estate, would need to be moved across to the new Azure environment over the course of just one weekend. Sol-Tec carried out the cloud migration in accordance with its well established PUBSEC methodology and completed the transition seamlessly in time for the Monday morning go-live deadline, saving e-LfH both time and money.

Benefits of the Azure Environment

In less than 3 months from start to finish, Sol-Tec had e-LfH up and running in its new Azure environment and the benefits have been immediately felt.

e-LfH now has a platform that is more than capable of handling millions of training sessions for hundreds of thousands of users, at a fraction of the cost of its previous AWS environment. Benefiting from the Microsoft EA HEE already had in place, it now has access to the latest cloud services and software licenses to keep abreast with the rapidly changing technology landscape, while also benefiting from volume discounts.

The Azure solution has also transformed its testing and production environments. The DevOps team now has the power to take a snapshot of the live environment and test proposed changes, making them more responsive while also powering innovation of services.

With Role Based Access Control to the environment, the DevOps team now has appropriate permissions in place to see servers that were previously inaccessible. This has sharply reduced the cost and time associated with having to engage a partner to make changes on their behalf – changes that took days can now happen instantly.

Sol-Tec provides 24/7 monitoring and alerting on e-LfH’s new Azure environment along with adhoc consulting, all through their Velocity Support contract. This flexible and collaborative approach to support and consultancy gives e-LfH the assurance that they can access Sol-Tec’s expertise whenever the need arises, while working autonomously where they have the time and skills inhouse.

The Partnership with Sol-Tec Continues

With their Azure solution in place and running smoothly, e-LfH has already engaged Sol-Tec to provide consultancy and delivery on the next phase of the project to move its applications over to a PaaS architecture enabling them to reap the benefits of services such as Azure DevOps, Azure Web Apps and Azure SQL to:

  • build in additional availability options to address spikes in demand.

  • access the latest security features.

  • scale its service based on real-time usage.

  • allow for even greater scale than the current environment.

  • speed up application deployment.

  • reducing costs further.

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