Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. They aim to improve lives by raising standards in education and children’s social care. They do this by inspecting services providing education and skills for learners of all ages. They also inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people. This is done across thousands of organisations and individuals providing education, training and care – from childminders to training providers, schools to local authorities.
Challenges facing Ofsted
Ofsted employs a significant number of contract staff as inspectors who have access to sensitive information that must be kept secure. With users working remotely and using their own laptop devices, Ofsted recognised they wanted to improve their processes to adapt to these remote workers.
Ofsted required the ability to securely provide access to contract staff across the country remotely on their own device. They wanted to secure their data and still provide a good experience and interface to the contractors. They identified Azure Virtual Desktop as a possible solution for their needs.
Bridgeall proposed a phased approach to rolling out Azure Virtual Desktop for Ofsted. We started with a basic environment to test application performance and user experience, followed by a solution spread across multiple Azure regions to scale and add resilience.
Proof of concept
To begin our Proof of Concept (POC) process, we started with a kick-off meeting to assess Ofsted’s requirements and make sure the environment was cost effective and fit for purpose. This included everything from assessing the number of concurrent users to what applications they would be using.
We also worked with Ofsted to define what success for the PoC looked like, what factors were important to them, that fed into our test plan.
We then provided an initial design of what we expected the solution to look like and then moved to building out the environment. Once this was complete, we did some in-house testing to make sure it was all up and running. The solution was then handed over to Ofsted to do their testing and come back to us if there were any issues that needed to be rectified. We also provided documents which stated how the environment was configured and user guides on how to access and use it.
- Azure Virtual Desktop Proof of Concept (PoC)- As mentioned above, to begin this process we started with a kickoff meeting to assess Ofsted’s requirements and to ensure the environment was cost effective and fit for purpose. We assessed the number of users that would be using the environment at a particular time and what applications they would be using. We also had to ensure the environment would scale efficiently. AVD anticipates when to scale up itself and we had to ensure this was set up correctly. AVD anticipates when to scale up itself to ensure that was set up properly.
- The process:
- We set up the environment in Azure
- Set up proof of concept subscription in Azure
- Deployed base Virtual Machine to be configured to the requirements of Ofsted, including custom business applications and configuration of FSLogix (FSLogix enables roaming user profiles in virtual environments such as AVD and can be used with modern technology such as Azure Storage rather than requiring a dedicated file server)
- Set up application groups for Ofsted business application to be used within the Azure Virtual Desktop Environment
- Used base Virtual Machine to capture Image
- Set up Azure virtual Desktop host pools with scale plans to scale up and down as required
- Used Image to deploy Virtual Machines within the Azure Virtual Desktop Pools
- Extended PoC to a wider group of users – Bridgeall provided Ofsted with a demonstration of the solution to validate functional assumptions, technical feasibility across the group, identify potential issues and gather intelligence and feedback from your admin/user base.
- The Bridgeall team established and agreed Ofsted published applications and virtual desktops, enabling users to experience the benefits of each within the PoC environment.
As a result of our review, Bridgeall proposed the following benefits to the client:
- Security – Centralised management of environment for deploying updates to the operating system and software. Also having the data within the corporate network rather than on the device to ensure data would be protected if the device was lost, stolen or tampered with.
- Flexibility – Would allow Ofsted to adopt a ‘bring your own device’ technology model while maintaining security of data.
- Scalability – Easily scalable to meet demand during peak times.
- Cost effective – For the busy IT function, AVD would help streamline desktop management, support and costs by centralising and consolidating administration. The team can also easily scale down when not required.
- Efficient – Can easily provide access to contactors that would only be with the organisation for a short period of time rather than needing to configure a full device. Any contracted staff would have fast, hassle-free access from almost any internet-connected device.