Canterbury Christ Church University

When the UK went into lockdown, Canterbury Christ Church University needed a flexible, secure, and accessible solution that would support over 18,000 students with individual needs to continue learning remotely.

Established 50 years ago, Canterbury Christ Church University is based in the heart of Canterbury and offers a wide range of subjects and topics to its students. When the first UK lockdown happened in March 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the university was challenged with being able to deliver applications to its students remotely without the compute power on-premise. The university needed the capacity to flexibly deliver desktops to both large groups and smaller numbers of students with specific needs during the pandemic, to enable them to keep learning and recognised that digital transformation was key in making this happen.

Canterbury Christ Church worked with Phoenix to deploy Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), which leveraged cloud services to give the university the flexibility and scalability to deliver a robust, reliable desktop experience to thousands of students.

“By using Azure Virtual Desktop, we had that flexibility in that we could go as big or as small as we wanted and we could have different models of specification at the VMs that we were running as well, which we wouldn’t necessarily have with an on-premise solution.” – Nick Bryant, Senior Systems Engineer, Canterbury Christ Church University.

Initially Microsoft contacted Canterbury Christ Church University about an incentive scheme to provide matched funding to deliver Azure Virtual Desktop rapidly in response to the pandemic. Having successfully worked with Phoenix in the past, the university contacted us, and after a preliminary conversation, the concept was rolled within one to two months as part of their daily infrastructure.

The timeframe for Azure Virtual Desktop becoming available to us as a University was absolutely critical because the whole country went into lockdown. Phoenix managed to leverage fast track resources from Microsoft and that really allowed us to prove the concept that we were trying to design out for our students. “Our relationship with Phoenix Software really has been cemented during the pandemic. They've always been there for us, assisting us and making sure that we were getting and leveraging the best value from our Microsoft contract that we possibly could.
Andy Powell, Chief Technology OfficerCanterbury Christ Church University

As Microsoft UK Partner of the Year for 2021, we have worked with many organisations to deploy AVD during the pandemic and we were able to use our experience and skills to support Canterbury Christ Church. Our partnership with Microsoft – and its UK account and technical support teams – gave the university confidence that the solution it was investing in was not only deployed in-line with best practice and industry standards, but would also empower the institution and its students to succeed.

“Phoenix Software really do deliver on their promise to actually put their customers first. They work with us to make sure that Microsoft and the investment in that technology is actually leveraged. And, you know, I think that’s absolutely critical to a successful partnership and it delivers for the students.” – Andy Powell, Chief Technology Officer, Canterbury Christ Church University

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