About Anglia Ruskin University
Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), located in the UK, is an innovative, global University
welcoming students from 185 countries. Operating across 4 campuses, the University
offers a variety of under- and post-graduate courses in computing and technology, art and
design, engineering, law, business, economics, life sciences and more. It has been named
as one of the top 350 institutions in the world by The Times Higher Education World
University Rankings 2021 and is recognized as one of the top 40 universities in the UK.
Key Organizational Drivers
Launched at ARU in 2018, the “Better Working Together” program was a major IT
initiative encompassing a number of projects dedicated to driving collaboration across
the University. Explains Mladen Kirilov, Senior Cloud Engineer at ARU: “This project was
a vast undertaking which included significant plans to align our IT services delivered to
students and staff and effectively become more agile. Part of the bigger picture was to
bring everyone together into the same cloud environment for better collaboration.”
At the time, all University students were using the Microsoft cloud for email, whereas
University staff were using an on-premises email solution. The student Microsoft 365
tenant had evolved purely around the student workload and there was little governance
around Groups, SharePoint and Teams. Mladen continues: “Due to insufficient governance,
the situation in the student tenant had become a bit like the Wild West! Therefore, we
decided it was necessary to create a new tenant where everyone could collaborate better.”
In line with the “Better Working Together” program, ARU recognized the need to create
a brand new Microsoft 365 tenant that was accessible to both staff and students. Mladen
resumes: “We needed to migrate staff from the on-premises email, implement a shift
from using Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams and use Teams (SharePoint Online) for
files as well. At the same time, we needed to migrate all our students from the old tenant
– without bringing any unmanaged resources along. It made sense to start again from
scratch to create a well-governed structure that would work well for everyone.”
The ProvisionPoint Solution
With a brand new Microsoft 365 tenant in place, ARU was determined to ensure
Teams was set up correctly, with proper management and full governance in place, before
introducing it to staff and students.
After research, ProvisionPoint 365 was recommended to ARU by an independent consultant. With ProvisionPoint 365embedded into Teams, ARU can now create a set of specific service definitions, such as Projects and Organizational Unit Teams, as well as Virtual Teams for use in shared functions.
Mladen goes on: “As a University, we perhaps use ProvisionPoint 365 in a unique way compared to other industry sectors. We have chosen not to expose ProvisionPoint 365 to the majority of our user base, and instead have only provided our IT Customer Support staff with access to this robust governance solution. The Customer Support team act as Requestors and manage all requests from one central place – this avoids us ending up in the Wild West again! Users simply complete a form and following a well-structured, standardized approval process, it gives us much greater governance and control.”
“Universities are typically challenged by tight budgets, so cost is always an important factor,” Mladen continues. “ProvisionPoint 365 offers a clear, attractive pricing structure which is a great fit for the price-conscious education sector.”
Besides price, ProvisionPoint 365 also includes lots of customizable features that ARU could take advantage of: URL templates; SharePoint site links; request forms and approvals – as well as the ability to use leases for lifecycle management. Mladen adds: “We also like the way we can add a prefix code to each project’s URL to make it easier to discover SharePoint
sites. ProvisionPoint 365 is intuitive and so simple to use. With just a 30 minute ‘show and tell’ session to familiarize themselves with the solution, our Customer Support team was ready to use the interface. I also love the fact that ProvisionPoint listens to feedback and has implemented small feature requests that help our workload.”
In February 2020, ARU used ProvisionPoint 365 to create 10 Teams. Thrown into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the following month saw 224 Teams created – an increase of 1020% in a matter of weeks! And because ARU had set up everything properly prior to this, they were completely prepared to efficiently handle this influx of demand that home working mandated.
As lockdown sees an increase in remote teaching, the use of Teams at the University is evolving and becoming more useful for class delivery, recording classes and sharing files. ARU is seeing more staff, such as Personal Development Tutors, requesting access to Class Teams, and they will require different service definitions. To this end, ARU has set up a Teams
sandbox so the tutors can learn how to use Teams properly before allowing full access to ensure proper governance and compliance continues over the coming years.
Mladen concludes: “Our overall objective was to get everyone collaborating and ProvisionPoint 365 has really helped us to achieve this. We look forward to developing our use of ProvisionPoint 365 as our own needs evolve.”