It is a world leading innovative centre of learning for post graduate students in business, management and finance. Rooted in the eight-century-year-old University of Oxford, Said Business School is known for world leading education and research. Its mission is to be a world-class business school community that tackles world-scale issues. Having selected Centrality following a rigorous tendering process, the school has stated that it can have total confidence in delivering ‘world class IT services for a world class organisation’ that its students, staff and faculty members recognise, appreciate and can be proud of.
Said Business School’s new CIO Mark Bramwell had inherited an ageing, obsolete, non-resilient and out of support and maintenance infrastructure. There were several single points of failure and no disaster recovery plan or failover in place. Support and maintenance was stretched across a small internal team (1.6FTE), underpinned by expensive day rate contractors and consultants, with support being provided Monday to Friday 08:00-18:00. The infrastructure was not befitting or fit for purpose of a world leading business school, prone to failure and loss of service which was undermining the service, standing, credibility and confidence in IT at the school.
A future looking and robust IT strategy was essential. Every day, week and year the school serves thousands of students – all of whom invest greatly to learn and study at the Said Business School – as well as staff and faculty. They all understandably and reasonably expect the school’s IT systems and service offer to match its reputation for excellence. An up to date IT service offer would therefore be needed to support all these VIP customers and regain a level of trust and confidence in IT.
The solution would be multi-faceted:
A complete IT service partner was needed to serve the needs of the entire business school and all of its students, staff and faculty. The partner would work alongside the school to assist in streamlining the organisation’s technology and network related processes; mitigating issues and resolving challenges, as well as providing hands-on management during the transition to the new service.
A managed private wide area network (WAN) formed part of the Centrality proposal, as did a round-the-clock, 365-day a year hosted data centre with full resilience, failover and disaster recovery for absolute peace of mind, together with an incentivised future migration plan to Office 365.
The proposal went to a panel of 6 members which included representatives from the central university infrastructure and procurement teams, and CIO Mark Bramwell. From an initial response of 19 companies, a shortlist of 4 was selected with Centrality being the unanimous choice of the panel.
The University of Oxford had never previously looked towards external hosting or provided an external partner with full control over a managed service. Culture, risk and the ‘unknown’ was therefore a factor, so it was crucial that the correct steps were followed in the procurement process. With the central university also providing its own hosted data centre services, a degree of collaboration, transparency, political sensitivity, tact and diplomacy was essential.
After contracting, the project commenced in March 2016 and full integration of the new system began in August the same year, all running to schedule and budget. As with all projects undertaken by Centrality, members of the senior executive and management team were involved throughout on a hands-on basis.
Saïd Business School now enjoys an ongoing close relationship with Centrality’s executive team and its round-the-clock support service. The school has stated that it now has total confidence in providing an up to date, supported, maintained, resilient and highly available ‘world class IT service’ that its students, staff and faculty members reasonably expect and fully appreciate.