Founded in 1981, SHBrooks is a Boston-based software and consulting business providing higher education institutions with valuable analysis and insights about student enrollment behavior and financial-aid packaging. Specializing in data acquisition, statistical techniques, and enrollment data warehousing, SHBrooks analyzes and evaluates the effectiveness of financial-aid packaging for new and continuing students, providing recommendations to increase revenue, academic profile, and total enrollment for colleges and universities nationwide.
As a small organization with a few physical servers on-premises, SHBrooks realized the tremendous advantages of cloud computing, such as security, stability, and cost control. “We provide a series of software analytic tools to our clients, so data infrastructure is very important to what we do,” said Stephen Brooks, the company’s founder and CEO. “With highly-sensitive data on millions of college applicants, and data impacting decisions made on the allocation of millions of dollars in financial aid, security is an absolute priority for us,” he added.
GOAL 1: CLOUD MIGRATION
Specifically, the company needed a secure platform for clients to log into, plus better file transfer security to upload enrollment and financial aid data to SHBrooks’ systems. For the company’s remote workers, SHBrooks required an encrypted method to access the company’s infrastructure from anywhere, including overseas.
GOAL 2: SECURE ACCESS AND FTP
Minimizing downtime during the cloud migration was also a key requirement.
GOAL 3: ENABLE SECURE TELEWORK
Mr. Brooks’ initial experience with a Boston IT firm proved disappointing. “We worked with a local IT group in the Boston area, but we weren’t happy with their services, lack of responsiveness, pricing, and knowledge of our business,” he recalled.
From initial conversations with Cloudforce, Mr. Brooks was immediately impressed with its people. “From the get-go, it was clear that this was a relationship that would work extremely well with our needs,” he said, recalling his initial conversation with Cloudforce Founder and CTO, Husein Sharaf. “We talked, and he seemed very able to handle my requirements, especially after he shared some case studies demonstrating success for clients with similar needs.
Cloudforce began the process by analyzing SHBrooks’ existing environment and providing recommendations. Microsoft Azure was the recommended cloud environment, given the many available integrations with other Microsoft applications that SHBrooks already leveraged. It also provides a flexible and scalable platform with a focus on security, privacy, and transparency, all of which were high priorities for SHBrooks.
After performing several tests to ensure that the systems would transfer into the Azure environment as planned, Cloudforce executed the full migration seamlessly. In less than 30 days, SHBrooks had completely migrated from an on-premise server closet to a highly-stable and secure cloud environment.
RESULT 1: ALL-CLOUD INFRASTRUCTURE
RESULT 2: SECURE ENVIRONMENT
RESULT 3: SECURE CLIENT ACCESS
RESULT 4: SECURE FTP UPLOADS
RESULT 5: ZERO DOWNTIME
RESULT 6: SECURE TELEWORK ACCESS
“We now have virtual machines, a series of secure drives and a very robust FTP system for our clients to securely submit their data to our environment for analysis,” said Mr. Brooks. “It’s running in a very secure, high-end cloud platform, following all of the industry’s best practices for security, privacy and continuity of operations.”
Recounting a recent experience with one client’s stringent data protection policy, Mr. Brooks said, “One client’s IT department sent us a 10-page questionnaire to ensure adherence to their strict standards of security, and we were completely compliant with every single requirement, thanks to our new cloud environment.”
“From the get-go, it was clear that this was a relationship that would work extremely well with our needs.”Stephen Brooks Founder and CEO
Working with Husein Sharaf and the team at Cloudforce was an equally positive experience for SHBrooks. “He’s very clever, smart and capable,” Mr. Brooks summarizes his impression of Mr. Sharaf. “He’s extremely responsive and easy to work with. He came in, did exactly what I needed, and now he’s helping us with any IT needs that we may have, forevermore.”
“I really enjoy working with Husein and his team at Cloudforce. He’s helped us quickly and efficiently with a number of problems that would have been very hard for us to solve.”Stephen Brooks Founder and CEO
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Check out more on this project atMicrosoft Industry Blog