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The University Of Waikato Leverages Azure Integration Services with Adaptiv

Technology Trouble due to Team Turnover

As expected, technology plays a critical role in supporting the University’s ability to deliver a flexible teaching, learning and working environment.

The University of Waikato previously relied on its legacy integration platform to connect its on-premises and cloud applications, data and devices. However, their ability to manage and develop the platform cost-effectively and efficiently inhouse became a challenge due to increased turnover in their technology team and the job market boom post-Covid.

Glenn Penfold, Associate Director for Architecture & Digital Platforms – Information Technology Services for the University of Waikato, says, “Changes in our data and integration teams meant we no longer had the same level of capacity and skills.”

The University had to rely on third parties for support and development, making its integration platform increasingly expensive and difficult to maintain.

With big plans for the future, the University was looking for an integration platform that would allow it to leverage its own resources as well as drive down costs.

“I think Adaptiv comes with a unique proposition, and that’s its focus on integration and data. They’re not trying to be everything to everyone. Compared to some of the other partners out there, Adaptiv’s capabilities and skill sets are outstanding.”

The Appeal of Azure Integration Services

“We took the opportunity to evaluate our current environment and establish our future technology needs as an organisation,” says Penfold.

“We believed that building our integrations on Microsoft Azure would provide us better long-term strategic value – from both a cost and resourcing perspective. We’d have the flexibility to only use the components that we need to consume on an on-demand basis instead of a flat fee service. And as a Microsoft solution, we’d have a much wider ecosystem of resources available to us through partners, as well as being able to leverage our internal skill sets.”

As part of its strategy, the University had decided to move to Microsoft for its corporate systems but knew they weren’t equipped to go it alone.

Penfold says, “Microsoft recommended that we talk to Adaptiv. We’d initially contacted them some time ago to see if they could provide some guidance on our legacy integration platform, but the timing wasn’t right. Talking to them did kick off the whole integration platform review process. We asked Adaptiv to present an overview of Azure Integration Services and were so impressed that we decided to move platforms pending validation.

“Microsoft funded Adaptiv’s proof-of-value workshops through their ECIF (End Customer Investment Fund) program and did some integration prototypes to determine if Azure was fit for purpose – and it most definitely was.

Projects

The University of Waikato had two primary project objectives.

“Moving from our legacy platform to Azure Integration Services was the first project off the rank,” says Penfold. “Our second objective was implementing Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP – which required 50+ new integrations.

“We asked Adaptiv to supply architecture and development resources specialising in Azure Integration Services and Azure DevOps to build, deploy and automate our integration platform. They were also tasked with creating our edge or landing zones, helping migrate our data from the old platform, and rebuilding the integrations.”

Adaptiv provided a senior Azure Integration Services developer and solution architect to work with the University’s technology team, including Alex Zaicu, Head of Digital Platforms and Brian Crowe, Principal Enterprise Architect.

Taking the fast track to Success

As the University was new to Azure, Adaptiv enrolled the organisation in Microsoft’s Azure FastTrack program, designed to help organisations quickly get to grips with infrastructure requirements.

“Working with Adaptiv allowed us access to Microsoft’s FastTrack program,” says Penfold. “We had proper templates, naming conventions, tagging strategies, infrastructure as code and more. We could allocate resources where and when needed, saving us a lot of time.”

To help control the integration development costs for the Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP components of the project, Adaptiv leveraged its team of offshore developers to work under their experienced Auckland-based senior consultants. Adaptiv also decommissioned the legacy integrations, replacing them with new Azure ones, and reverse-engineered the documentation for the old platform. The University of Waikato and Adaptiv took an agile approach to the project. And over the course of the project, Adaptiv provided on-the-go training to the University’s technology team throughout the project, meaning the internal team has subsequently been able to take over the remaining migrations and operational support.

Additionally, all the new documentation around the integrations and infrastructure code is on one ecosystem. Actual tests and the scenarios they’ve been applied to – rather than read-me notes – are also stored for reference and reuse.

Visibility, Savings and Independence

“One of the biggest benefits of the project to the University has been the increase in visibility,” says Crowe. “Using the Azure solution has been like having a big, single pane of glass – our reporting is much better.

“As well as making savings on annual licensing, we’ve taken advantage of the day-to-day flexibility that Azure offers. Instead of having to purchase a package deal, where we paid for things we wouldn’t use consistently, we now only pay for what we consume.”

“Going forward,” says Zaicu, “we can use our own resources to help with delivery rather than outsourcing everything. It’s given us our independence back and reduced development and maintenance costs.

“In working with Adaptiv, we could leverage Azure DevOps and CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous delivery) for the first time, and that’s transformed how our team operates as we move forward. Now we use DevOps as a work management platform for the actual Azure integration statistic plans and more. It’s made the solution development process and team communications seamless and transparent – we’ve seen the real value DevOps can provide from a project delivery perspective.”

Zaicu says that the University is running the two integration platforms side by side, disabling integrations as they are replaced. The old platform gets officially ‘turned off’ at the end of November 2023. And from a starting point of almost 100 legacy integrations, the University expects to end up with less than 70 as they simplify and optimise.

The Adaptiv Advantage

“I think Adaptiv comes with a unique proposition,” says Penfold, “and that’s its focus on integration and data. They’re not trying to be everything to everyone. Compared to some of the other partners out there, Adaptiv’s capabilities and skill sets are outstanding.”

Microsoft Chief Partner Officer ANZ, Vanessa Sorenson, says there are two secrets to being a great tech partner.
“Time and time again, we’re hearing from customers that they’re looking for a partner that empowers them to do more for themselves. And secondly, customers want a tech partner that proactively comes to them with suggestions for improvements, because you don’t know what you don’t know. Adaptiv absolutely stands out on both counts. Giving the University the tools to innovate for themselves also means there are more resources for delivering better student and staff experiences, which means the benefits go far beyond the IT department.”

The team at Adaptiv are subject matter experts, says Zaicu. “They are flexible and easy to work with, and the contract side of the engagement was simple. With other suppliers, we’ve had to spend up to six weeks just negotiating a statement of work, but with Adaptiv, it was a nice, quick, simple process which met the expectations of both parties. Although we were initially a little anxious about the offshoring components of their services, Adaptiv managed it well, and everything was delivered to requirement and on time – and from a pricing perspective, we got real value. Importantly, our stakeholders are happy with the outcomes.”

“I was also delighted when Adaptiv suggested ways we could optimise our monthly Azure consumption costs,” says Penfold. “They weren’t contracted to do that – they were just trying to do the right thing for us. I think that shows the culture and the value that Adaptiv bring to the table beyond a transactional engagement.”

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