Cranford Group of Schools

Cranford Private Cloud

The Challenge

The Cranford Group (CG) is a soft federation of schools that came together in frustration at being left behind by the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.  They aimed to procure a largely revenue based alternative to BSF.

Gaia have worked with this group, since 2010, to build on their BSF aspirations and create a new vision for a federated ICT service.  This vision would create a service where each school enjoys an equal and appropriate quality of service at the right and affordable price. The requirements were for a transfer of risk and operational management to Gaia.

From the outset we understood that it was imperative to invest a significant amount of time in the initial requirements gathering and customer engagement phases of the project. The key business drivers and challenges identified were as follows;

  • Significant under investment requiring urgent remedial action and upgrades.
  • Absence of long term planning and budgeting.
  • A service delivery team that was under skilled.
  • A lack of Industry best practice processes, systems and professionalism.
  • A poor service design and culture with regard to security.
  • No history of collaborative working with regard to ICT.

What We Did

In response, we implemented a new governance structure including an ICT Strategy Group (ITSG) with senior leaders. Gaia then worked with this group to create a new vision for a federated ICT service, a vision where all enjoy an equal quality of service. The requirements were;

  • A solution and service designed to last 10 years with regular and planned upgrades, refresh cycles and cost efficiencies realised.
  • Risk transfer from the schools to the supplier.
  • A highly available, secure, high performance shared infrastructure designed to accommodate new schools.
  • An Infrastructure designed to cope with the projected growth in data storage, rich multimedia content creation and on-line content consumption.
  • The professionalisation of the service delivery team.

Gaia considered the demand management and capacity planning along with all of the other projects needs. We developed a solution design that included a Private Cloud environment whereby all schools within the group would benefit from interconnectivity and a centrally hosted Data Centre. Gaia worked with all the Schools in the CG over a 12 month transition period to implement this design and TUPE transfer all of the school’s service engineers and network managers, reorganising them into a centralised and shared service delivery team. To this we added;

  • Management & Project management resources.
  • Individual training and CPD plans.
  • ITIL compliant Systems, Processes and Service Desk.
  • An SLA with KPIs, performance measures and financial penalties.
  • A customer care culture with termly user satisfaction surveys.
  • A continuous improvement culture and plan.

The Outcome

The benefits that Gaia produced included:

  • An overall reduction in cost.
  • Enhanced service (shared Internet speeds at 1Gbps instead of 100Mbps).
  • Enhanced reliability and service availability.
  • Improved resolution times on reported incidents and SLA.

Where the requirements for bandwidth and budget capacity varied between the different schools. Gaia led a best value procurement effort with national suppliers (BT, Virgin, others) to supply LAN Extension and Internet Lines that can be flexed upwards on demand without the need for upgraded installations. Gaia also oversaw the implementation process to ensure timely delivery from the various suppliers into the schools with much of the works planned and executed over School Holidays and weekends to ensure business and service continuity.

The design provided that each school would have at least one connection to another in order to obtain shared services and provide resilience within the environment. At every link and Internet Gateway, Gaia setup a security Firewall that specifically permitted only those inward or outward connections profiles from one school to another and ingress and egress to the Internet. Security and filtering is delivered in varying profiles for each School and year group with monitoring systems over individual links to provide real-time availability information of up time, bandwidth and security attacks.

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