Guest blog post from Lisa Drakonaki from Salford Software.

Four Lancashire based further education colleges, Accrington & Rossendale, Hopwood Hall, Morecambe & Lancaster and Nelson & Colne have come together as the “Lancashire Colleges Shared Services Partnership” to create a shared virtual environment between colleges via the creation of a private cloud.

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The project has so far saved the colleges £90,000 collectively by rolling out Microsoft Office 365 for education, sharing hardware and by sharing an IT operations director across two of the four colleges.

Having received AoC funding of £120,000 they decided that they could do more with it working collaboratively than separately. All members of the teams have clear roles, hosting the helpdesks and backing up data. Even if one of the colleges decided to pull out, they can all continue to operate independently, data is replicated across the four colleges.

Microsoft Office 365 for education gives the students the resources that the colleges couldn’t have provided economically prior to the implementation – more storage capacity in the cloud and the ability to access their data from anywhere on mobile devices.

Salford Software is working with the consortium to deliver Microsoft Office 365 and bring a cloud solution to all four colleges under one implementation. The rollout will deliver Microsoft Office 365 services to 5000 students.

More information is available via the press release on the FE Community website and IT Director.com.