Schoolcomms

Managed Private Cloud supporting mission critical SaaS services, backed by responsive support, security and resilience.

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Company information

  • Company: Schoolcomms
  • Website: http://schoolcomms.com
  • Industry: Home-school communication portal
  • Solution: Managed Private cloud

Background to Schoolcomms

Schoolcomms’ mission is to help schools reinforce the idea that ‘parents matter’ as well as to develop a two-way relationship based on respect, mutual trust, and a commitment to improving learning results. 

Business Driver & Challenges

Schoolcomms gives teachers and school administrators the ability to quickly and effectively communicate child absence and exceptional events to parents. It’s imperative for Schoolcomms to deliver this information in real time to parents.

As schools share pupil contact information with Schoolcomms, these records must be stored safely and securely, meeting the requirements of the Data Protection Act.

The Schoolcomms platform includes a message service capability to notify parents regarding emergency school closures, for example in the event of severe winter weather. This system is critical to preventing children being sent to a school that is closed. As adverse weather can mean many hundreds of schools closing simultaneously, Schoolcomms must have the ability to deliver a high volume of messages in a short period of time early in the morning.

Resilience and business continuity are critical to the service and need to be professionally managed on a 24/7 basis.

Ideally, costs would reflect seasonal usage of the service, which has peaks during the school year but is much quieter during the summer months.

Extraordinary’s Solution

Critical Periods
Extraordinary designed a Private Cloud solution for Schoolcomms. A Private Cloud is dedicated to one customer only. This allows Extraordinary to schedule essential maintenance outside of Schoolcomms’ critical periods.

Critical Response
Extraordinary worked with Schoolcomms to create a customised run book. Extraordinary monitors Schoolcomms' Private Cloud on a 24/7 basis. In the event of a service or component failure, Extraordinary will take actions to rectify the failure in accordance with the agreed run book.

Extraordinary prides itself in understanding their customers and their unique requirements. Extraordinary understood that Schoolcomms has a unique requirement of intensive support during specific times of each school day. To cater for that requirement, Extraordinary created a detailed run book to support Schoolcomms during their critical periods. The runbook is shared with Schoolcomms and allows Schoolcomms to trust in the methods Extraordinary employ to assist them.

Resilience
Schoolcomms' data is continuously replicated to standby infrastructure. In the event of failure, Schoolcomms' system can be immediately recovered from standby servers. Extraordinary regularly tests the failover system by running a sandboxed system using the replicated data on the standby servers. Schoolcomms is thus able to validate the working of the failover system and the integrity of the data by testing their application in the sandboxed area.

Data Security
Schoolcomms' application is hosted in one of Extraordinary’s UK datacentre sites. Their Private Cloud is protected by Cisco ASA firewalls and private VLANs. Backups of Schoolcomms' application and data are stored in an encrypted form at a second Extraordinary datacentre.

Named Support Engineers
Extraordinary believes that working with a team of named engineers enables customers to build trust with us as your hosting provider. Therefore Schoolcomms always has a direct line of communication to the engineers who built their hosting solution and during the lifetime of the hosting solution those same engineers will continue to support the system.

Flexible Costs
Extraordinary created a flexible Private Cloud solution. The Private Cloud has additional resources which may be consumed in short bursts. At the end of each month, Extraordinary bills for the amount of time the additional resource was used. During vacation times, Schoolcomms may scale down their application resource requirement.

Extraordinary provides us with simplified, robust systems that operate 24/7. Performance, reliability and security are vital. Frequent resilience test plan gives us the reassurance that our data is safe and we know we have Extraordinary’s expertise on tap if needed. As a result we enjoy peace of mind, knowing we can deliver to our customers easily.

Tim Perkin, Managing Director of Schoolcomms

Benefits

One Point of Accountability
The Enterprise premium solution involves a range of specialist services which are all available through Extraordinary, providing Schoolcomms with one single point of contact.

Flexible Costing
Extraordinary understood that Schoolcomms required a Private Cloud solution but with the costing benefits of a pay-as-you-go based Public Cloud. Extraordinary worked with Schoolcomms to develop a bespoke Private Cloud solution that provides reserved additional resources that are only paid for when used.

Why Extraordinary?

“Extraordinary’s specialist skills and knowledge in understanding our business and application has earned our respect and trust. Their named engineers are available to advise and help us, not just for routine tasks.” (Tim Perkin, Managing Director of Schoolcomms)“Extraordinary takes pride in being part of our critical service. They provide us with accountability and visibility using custom alarms and monitors on the services they deliver to us.”
(Tim Perkin, Managing Director of Schoolcomms)