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Microsoft empowers Melbourne Business School to 'move and improve'

18 Jul 2019

Melbourne Business School is harnessing the power of Microsoft’s three clouds to transform its business into a cloud first enterprise, so it can continue to help transform Australia’s wider business landscape.

Melbourne Business School (MBS) used a combination of on-premise information systems that expanded over time, with many applications tied together. Any change could potentially impact some other part of the system, so extensive testing was required every time. However, those systems weren’t meeting student and staff expectations.

The company then decided to switch to a cloud-first approach that could save money, improve system security, drive a data-driven culture, as well as empower experiences for education and innovation.

MBS CIO Darren Morris explains: “We’re not just picking up and putting stuff into the cloud we’re saying, ‘Well, what’s difficult about the way we work today?’ and when we move to the cloud, “What can we improve on so that we don’t have those same challenges in the future?" 

That’s why long term sustainability is so important to the company. MBS took what it calls the ‘move and improve’ approach, which started three years ago with the introduction of file storage, SharePoint, and Dynamics.

MBS is deploying Microsoft 365, including Office 365 and enhanced security. Dynamics 365 will look after user experiences and the student lifecycle.

Microsoft Azure is supporting MBS’ approach.

“We are using the reporting features, particularly around Azure Identity Protection,” says infrastructure manager Pete Russell.

“Security is another of our driving factors for the shift to cloud firstly to protect clients but also reputation with data breaches being brought to media attention. Our aim is to prevent and detect compromised accounts as early as possible. Microsoft’s tools available under Office 365 under A5 provides this capability.”

“We are currently moving towards MDM via Intune to build the platform to fully exploit Azure Rights Management. This is part of a coordinated strategy to protect information at all locations.”

Azure will also support MBS’ consolidation of four data warehouses into a single modern data estate. 

“One of the core activities of the Business School is to teach – we’re leaders in teaching analytics to students, and data science in big business, in Fortune 500 businesses, and we’ve got a global presence in that space,” explains Russell.

“There’s a bit of a push by the School to become better at it ourselves. And to do that, we have to have the right tooling, and that’s part of the driver for also going to the data warehouse in the cloud as well. We’re also using other products like SAS and Databricks. We’ve got a lot of activity in that analytics space.”

MBS is focused on delivering value to its business while rapidly responding to changing market conditions and user expectations.

“It would be absolute utopian for us to be 100% cloud and decommission Active Directory and all that kind of gear. But the reality of that is that we still have services that are going to depend on some on-prem systems. So, our estimate at the moment is something like – I think we have about 180 VMs, including dev and test and we’re hoping to get that down around about under 10,” concludes Russell.

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