This English based client is a supplier of books and educational material to Universities and International schools located globally. It also has staff located in other countries as well as travelling staff and home workers.

The IT environment has to provide access to remote workers, including workers travelling, and to accommodate seasonal variations of staff numbers, typically to provide additional support to warehousing activities.
Historically this has been done using the features of Microsoft Small Business Server which was essentially a bundle of products offering file and print management, email and an SQLserver database. This was located in the office environment and was supported by on-site tape backup facilities. Users typically connected to the environment using desktop PCs or laptops running either Windows 7 or Windows 10. Printers were a mixture of network connected printers or printers connected to the desktop PCs and shared out to the rest of the network. The small business server acted as queue manager for the network printers. Unusually, the company made full use of all of the facilities of the small business server, including extensive use of SQLserver for the company’s main warehouse application.
In addition to the small business server the company server room contained two other servers which facilitated remote access to the company network and hosted some other data applications.

Change Drivers

The motivation for change was driven by a couple of reasons:
• The need to accommodate additional seasonal workers over the summer period at additional cost.
• The end-of-life of Microsoft Small Business server and the impending end-of-life of Windows 7.


Microsoft small business server is an end-of-life product, and so further investment in licensing to accommodate the additional temporary workers was neither possible, nor would have made good economic sense.
Additionally, the purchase of further desktop PCs with associated windows licensing did not represent good value for money when the equipment was likely to be only required for five to six months of the year.
The company recently obtained a high-speed fibre optic internet connection which means that access to cloud-based services at reasonable speed and continuity of service is now possible.


1 – Traditional On Site Plan
The traditional solution would need to be sized for the peak number of users at high season with a reasonable overhead to permit growth.
It is expected that the existing three servers could be replaced by a single large server employing virtualisation techniques to allow the functions of the existing servers.
2 – Cloud Based Solution
Utilising cloud based technologies – mainly Microsoft Azure and Office 365 to provide similar base services.
Cost Comparisons*
1 – A traditional plan for server replacement, licensing for 40 on-site users, 5 Remote Desktop users, with support for 5 years on a next business day basis. Total cost £20,023 based on Dell Web Price.
Workstation costs, assuming a mid-range workstation with no support options assumed at £620 for a Dell Optiplex small form factor PC, 40 such workstations would have a capital cost of £24800 giving a grand total of around £45,000.
2 – A cloud based option would utilise the Microsoft Azure cloud platform to provide the necessary computing power to host the 40 instances in a hosted desktop environment. As all users are hosted on the Azure virtual machine workstation need no more computing power than a simple thin client setup ( Raspberry Pi based) which are priced at around £100/user.
Annual costs for Azure for this size of setup would normally be around £16000 and the workstation replacements £4000 instead of the £24800.
There are further savings to be had such as the savings on on-site storage and power costs.
Overall the client has managed to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of their IT estate by xx% per annum.
If you’d like to talk to BCS to see if we can help your business do the same then Contact Us .