Case Study: Plain Sailing with AutoPilot for Seafish Teams

Background/Problem

Seafish’s 100-strong team keeps fishermen safe, supports sustainable sourcing, helps businesses work efficiently, and boosts the nation’s health. They tackle everything from research to campaigns, insights to training, so when all of this was plunged into murky waters at the start of the pandemic, they had to change course.

Bobby Smith, IT Manager at Seafish explains:

“I had recently joined Seafish (April 2020), and it was clear a very makeshift remote working solution had been put in place, with all manner of different devices all running on different operating systems. Windows 7 was still used, and it was under strain. The infrastructure that existed here wasn’t fit for supporting a remote environment.”

How Trustmarque became the partner of choice

Trustmarque has managed Seafish’s Microsoft Enterprise Agreement and their Microsoft licensing provision for many years successfully. Due to their existing working relationship, Seafish sought Trustmarque’s help to remediate some infrastructure issues and help them develop a more robust remote working strategy. A significant system outage also highlighted a requirement for modernising their desktop environment through Microsoft Cloud technologies.

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About Seafish

Seafish is a non-departmental public body (NDPB) supporting the seafood sector in the UK to help it thrive.

They work closely with the seafood sector through panels and government departments, to make a difference on the issues and challenges that matter most.

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The Solution

At the start of the pandemic, Seafish colleagues found their productivity was held back by old laptops and outdated software. As hardware ages, not only does software appear to perform more poorly on the devices, but the demands on IT to maintain the setup increases. Therefore, spurred by this wave of complaints, and after the significant service outage, new-in-post Bobby was left with two choices:

“My initial thoughts had been about replacing the stock. I considered buying 150 reconditioned laptops and bring them into the office to build them and ship them out to staff. But that is costly and we realised it just wasn’t feasible.”

Seafish were offered a solution to replace their end user’s old devices with new, high spec machines. DaaS offered an affordable, easy to manage model allowing Seafish users to benefit from the latest devices and support in a simple monthly per unit cost.

Using Windows Autopilot; a collection of technologies to set up and pre-configure new devices, Seafish were able to arrange the devices to be shipped directly from the manufacturer to their end users home addresses preinstalled with up-to-date software. Using a Zero touch deployment method, end users just needed to connect to the internet before Windows Autopilot installed and configured the images. This greatly reduced the burden on IT staff to build and ship devices to a dispersed workforce and provided end users with a highly personalised out of the box provisioning experience.

Key issues

  • Pandemic displaced Seafish’s staff from office to home working
  • Ageing hardware and unstable environment
  • Unsupported applications and significant complaints to IT
  • Incident unearthed weaknesses in the infrastructure

“Lewis at Trustmarque talked me through the proposal, and I instantly realised that a subscription would be the right solution for us. We went from the dark ages to modern ages and almost in a heartbeat.”

Bobby Smith, IT Manager at Seafish

Outcome

Overnight Seafish were able to move away from non-supported systems to remote working with ease. Not only did the solution give the end-users a high specification of laptops, but it also allowed the IT team to harness the cloud-based capabilities of Windows AutoPilot. Seafish users were sent new devices directly from the manufacturer and within minutes of turning them on, AutoPilot remotely built and configured the device for them to hit the ground running. This simplified both the management of the device and the demand of IT Teams to build it, ensuring greater efficiency at a cheaper cost.

The team at Seafish instantly reaped the benefits of this ‘zero-touch method’:

“This solution not only provided an effective way of ensuring real value for money, it provided an avenue to improve the specification of the laptops available to the end users and allowed the IT team to harness the cloud-based capabilities of Windows AutoPilot”

Learnings from a system outage at one of their main sites highlighted that the existing on-premise data storage strategy needed to change. Through the development of the new Azure datacentre, Seafish hopes to achieve a cloud-first strategy in the future.

Contact us about Microsoft AutoPilot

If you’re interested in learning more about how Microsoft Autopilot could benefit your organisation contact a member of the team.

By Julia Bluckert, content with content