St. Richard's Catholic Primary, Skelmersdale
Utilising a new server to improve speed & security
The Solution deployed?
When Microsoft announced the end of support for Windows Server 2008 R2, St. Richard's knew they'd need a new solution in order to keep their network secure. We deployed a new virtualised server set-up and migrated across all of their old data to enhance their network.
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About St. Richard's
St. Richard's Primary School is a small, mixed gender school for 3-11 year-olds. The Roman Catholic faith school is in Skelmersdale, in the North West of England, belonging to the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
They have an Outstanding rating from Ofsted that seeks to teach, explain, develop and nurture their students through their values of Love, Respect, Joy, Compassion and Friendship. St Richard’s tries to cultivate an environment where each child believes in their own potential, where they can succeed and achieve.
Our existing relationship
Virtue have worked with St. Richard’s Catholic Primary School for years, providing a range of support tailored to their need. This support includes weekly half-day managed service visits, Gold Wireless Network Support, Silver Core Support and Cloud backup designed for the Primary Sector which backs up the server system state as well as data.
The Microsoft Support team reminded customers that extended support for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 would end on Tuesday 14th January 2020.
As St. Richard’s still had an ageing physical server running Windows Server 2008 R2, we were concerned about the consequences for them if they continued using it after mid-January.
This means following that date, St. Richard’s Catholic School would not receive free security updates on-premises, non-security updates, free support options or online technical content updates.
St. Richard’s have been a Virtue Technologies customer for over 12 years. As part of our relationship, we provide weekly half-day managed service visits, Gold Wireless Network Support, Cloud backup for server system state and data and Silver Core Support.
It was on one of the half-day visits, that Joe, St. Richard’s Virtue Managed Service Engineer, was checking their server and considered their predicament. He immediately spoke to St Richard’s Virtue Account Manager, Bruce, following the visit. As colleagues, working out of the same main office, it was easy for them to discuss the situation, and the risks it could cause. Bruce was then able to have an informed and detailed discussion with school Bursar, Debbie Wenham and Headteacher Mike Holden about the situation and their options moving forward.
"I’ve supported St. Richard’s for a number of years and we’re essentially their IT department. That means they rely on us to give them up-to-date advice and support. Knowing that extended support for Windows Server 2008 R2 was ending soon and that their server set-up would be vulnerable, I had to help them find a solution.” Joe Marsden, Virtue Technologies Engineer
Finding a solution
The ageing physical server that St. Richards’s were using to run Windows Server 2008 R2 was acting as a Domain Controller, File and Print Server and a Deployment or Imaging server all on one installation of Windows Server. As extended support was due to go EOL, this presented large security and network infrastructure risks for the primary school.
Following Joe’s recommendation to purchase new hardware, and a discussion with their Account Manager Bruce, the customer agreed it was time to replace their old hardware. Joe strongly advised them to also take the opportunity to move their domain server infrastructure from their older physical set-up to a more modern virtual option.
In this virtual set-up, multiple servers would be brought up on the host to fulfil the roles that were being run on the previous individual server.
As our technology use has grown, we struggled to translate classroom needs into IT requirements.
Virtue's support makes it so much easier.
The old server performance was dwindling. It had taken a sharper decline with the introduction of more data on the server. This in turn had occurred with a greater use of technology in St. Richards, more staff and pupils were using PCs, tablet and laptops. The introduction of more Windows 10 clients – PCs, 2-in-1s and laptops across the school also created a further strain on the server and storage infrastructure.
The greatest benefit of the new solution was better performance across the board for all of St. Richard’s required domain server roles. Joe developed the solution so that the Domain Controller, File & Print Server and Deployment & Imaging server are all split out on their own standalone virtual machines but sit on a single physical host server.
Essentially by building an infrastructure that enabled each server function to sit on a separate virtual machine, they were faster, more efficient and there’s room for growth as the school continues to adopt more technology.
Virtue solved our problem. They delivered a server solution efficiently and cost-effectively.
The servers on this new physical host server were created from scratch on Windows Server 2019. All the necessary roles and their permissions were installed with data migration taking place from the old to new server, as well as a Domain Controller migration from old to new.
The old server was then removed from the domain and decommissioned. Virtue’s Joe and Bruce spoke with the Bursar and Headteacher to make recommendations and explain the new system so we at Virtue could ensure St. Richard’s were maximising their budgets and getting the best value for their current and future needs. Because, we did this work in our initial scoping and planning stages, we provided St. Richard’s with a much higher spec new host server.
We developed the host server in such a way that each of their Windows Server 2019 virtual machines is higher spec than was previously provisioned for on the old all-in-one server. This gives St. Richard’s the scope to add additional virtual servers in the future without a noticeable difference in performance.
As part of the project, Joe also migrated Virtue's offsite data backup service from the old server to the new virtual domain controller and file server. Our Virtue Imaging Kit solution was also reinstalled and previously captured images were exported from the old server to the new, ensuing that the onboarding of new devices is quick and easy.
- Faster user access
- Easier to manage
- Improved server performance
- Quicker data read & write on the file shares
- Increased image deployment speeds
By migrating the server to new hardware and a virtual set-up, we’ve been able to give St. Richard’s improved server performance. Their virtual set-up means their data read and write speeds have been improved and image deployment speed has increased.
Thanks to the new hardware, they’ve had performance gains and the domain, as a whole, is easier and faster to manage.
"Joe, our on-site engineer and Bruce our Virtue Account Manager are so helpful. As our technology use has grown, we struggled to translate classroom needs into IT requirements. Virtue’s support makes it so much easier. The new server solution we have is ideal, it’s been built to support us now and in the future.” Debbie Wenham, Bursar, St. Richard’s Primary School