Microsoft's SQL Server and SharePoint help Isle of Wight College reduce infrastructure costs and improve data sharing

06 July 2016

The Isle of Wight College was keen to start using Microsoft SharePoint, which would enable staff, students and senior management to quickly and easily access relevant college information.

The college recognised that through this development there would be benefits from standardising their database technologies, so they decided to migrate to Microsoft SQL Server from their existing Oracle database structure with help from Capita.

The Isle of Wight College was established in 1951, initially offering courses in construction and engineering. It is now a General FE College with a broad curriculum covering all sector subject areas and has a record of success that is currently the gold standard of the sector, having achieved a Grade 1 at inspection and beacon status.

The college has invested significantly in the facilities it offers, which includes the LRC (Learning Resource Centre) and prides itself on putting its students first.

The IT manager recognised that the college would benefit from migrating to Microsoft SQL Server in a number of ways. A big driver was the desire to standardise Microsoft technologies prior to implementing SharePoint, a ‘one-stop shop’ that all data can be pulled into and that can facilitate the sharing of data, whilst keeping it secure.

While SharePoint can be used with Oracle, the college was also keen to change to Microsoft SQL Server because they knew it would provide a consistency in technologies and would reduce the need for additional database connectivity configurations. Reporting using Microsoft Reporting Services in combination with Microsoft SQL Server is simpler as, unlike Oracle, this is an integrated solution. This allows more efficient management of the various processes within the college, such as timetable building, student reports and finance.

The third important factor in the decision to switch over was the fact that the majority of the IT team at the college were already experienced in Microsoft SQL Server technology, and could therefore be more efficiently utilised managing the databases in this environment. This, along with the cost savings associated with the competitive pricing for Microsoft SQL Server, meant that the decision made financial sense too.

“The saving was around £3000 a year but on top of this, the in-house expertise with Microsoft SQL Server has enabled more efficient processes in server and data management including backup and recovery” 
Dave Edwards, Head of College Information Systems, Isle of Wight college.

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