Victoria University of wellington embrace Azure
“(Adaptiv) are probably the easiest vendor I’ve ever worked with.”
“They’re flexible, reliable and accountable. And they kept us ahead of the game, which is important with a new technology stack.”
Founded in 1897, Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) is one of New Zealand’s oldest and most prestigious tertiary institutions and is rated in the top 2% of the world’s 18,000 universities.
VUW has over 22,000 students, including 3,700 international students from more than 110 countries, and is supported by 2,300 full-time equivalent staff. It has ten faculties across three main campuses in Wellington, along with research centres and other institutions around the city.
VUW became increasingly frustrated by usability and accuracy issues in their ageing staff directory solution, and decided to design and implement a new application.
As a starting point, the University completed a proof of concept leveraging a leading integration application. They found out the platform would work, but the cost of using it was an issue.
“The platform was simply too expensive for us,” says Micky Heath, VUW Project Manager. “However, we knew there’d been significant advances in the Azure integration space. Microsoft New Zealand referred us to Adaptiv Integration to demonstrate how the platform could solve our problems while still being affordable.”
VUW agreed to an adaptiv.educate workshop, led by Nikolai Blackie, Principal Architect and Co-founder of Adaptiv. Heath and members of the VUW staff directory project team, including the University’s applications associate director, applications architect, developer, tester, and web developer, were given an in-depth look at the technology platforms under consideration (with a close focus on Microsoft Azure). The workshop evaluated the respective capabilities, and established how each benefitted the University in terms of functionality and cost.
“The adaptiv.educate workshop not only took us through Microsoft’s roadmap and future plans, but also deep-dived into the technical aspects of the Azure solution,” says Heath. “It was a good balance of everything we needed to know. By the end of the day, we were confident that Azure was going to do the job we needed.”
Once the decision to use Azure was signed off, Adaptiv delivered a comprehensive maturity workshop to key VUW stakeholders. Held over several weeks, adaptiv.assess covered project governance, strategy and solution design. Attendees understood the value and limitations of VUW’s current approach, and went on to formally define roles and responsibilities, create processes and establish future technology roadmaps.
“As part of the adaptiv.assess workshop,” says Heath, “Nikolai led us through a co-design process where we got everything reviewed, documented and squared up before we started development. We ended up with a comprehensive blueprint for success.”
Adaptiv’s next step was to deliver a proof of concept to validate VUW’s technology decision and project approach with an on-site workshop.
“Adaptiv listened closely to our requirements over the four-day adaptiv.verify workshop,” says Heath. “They quickly got a range of components up and running, showing us that Azure Integration would successfully work for us, and perform to our expectations.”
As well as verifying Azure’s suitability for VUW’s staff directory and confirming costs, the workshop introduced the application development team to Azure’s tooling and processes. Team members assessed it first-hand and established it as fit for purpose.
Adaptiv helped VUW set up the Azure platform for integration, before helping to develop a staff directory application which pulls data from five source systems. The collated data can be searched for on the VUW website and by using the University’s search client.
VUW prefers to retain internal ownership of their technology projects and utilise their own expertise. However, with zero in-house Azure Integration experience or capability at the start of the project, and a tightly resourced team, Heath said it was critical that Adaptiv worked alongside the University’s team to offer on-site DevOps and Azure training, and guidance and direction when needed.
The input of Adaptiv’s team as they worked side-by-side with the VUW team was integral to the successful design, development and delivery of the project. “It has been really good having them as part of our development team,” says Heath, “and we’re hoping to continue that engagement with them next year.”
Heath thoroughly enjoyed working with Nikolai and his team. “They were knowledgeable and super easy to work with. We appreciated Nikolai’s experience with newer software vendors as well. And he gave us really honest feedback about what we were trying to do, and what would work, or not.”
“Nikolai proactively forwards us information and ideas he thinks will help us. He’s added a high level of expertise and leadership to the project, and is still very much an integral part of the team.”
Heath has no hesitation recommending Adaptiv as an integration partner. “They are probably the easiest vendor I’ve ever worked with,” he says. “They’re flexible, reliable and accountable. And they kept us ahead of the game, which is important with a new technology stack.”