Mars Hill University Azure Case Study

Mars Hill University is a private, liberal arts institution offering over 30 baccalaureate degrees, as well as several master’s degrees. Founded in 1856 by Baptist families of the region, the campus is located just 20 minutes north of Asheville in the mountains of western North Carolina. The campus currently has approximately 1100 students enrolled and 275 employees.

Mars Hill University was considering a major ERP upgrade. The university was already fairly constrained on computing resources; an upgrade would require the acquisition of additional high cost servers.  In addition, they didn’t have a satisfactory business continuity and disaster recovery strategy that made sense given their limited on-campus processing resources.  Rather than investing in additional processors, racks, power supplies, cooling and other ancillary equipment- Mars Hill began to investigate the cloud.

“A cloud-based model satisfied many of our infrastructure’s pressing shortcomings quickly and without a huge capital expenditure.  We could deploy only what we needed and slowly migrate anything as we determined a need.”

Mars Hill University identified Microsoft Azure as the logical path to host their ERP application, and also as an entry point to start using the platform for other cloud services/migrations.  They were able to leverage Microsoft’s Azure Everywhere program, which provides qualified colleges and universities the opportunity to engage with a cloud expert professional services company to help your campus get going with cloud solutions. The Microsoft Azure Everywhere program provides Microsoft funding to a qualified partner to conduct cloud migration assessments, cloud adoption roadmaps, and help move workloads to the Azure.  This program is focused on helping colleges and universities develop a cloud strategy by providing access to expert resources to get you started.

“Microsoft provided us with a very cost-effective transition and expert guidance through SyCom to help move us from curious and interested to having a working system in place that met all of our access, security and growth needs.  We were able to get over the initial learning curve very quickly and have everything setup and running with dashboards and a cost model that continues to help us to manage each new application now hosted through Azure. This was a relatively painless transition that has gone very smoothly with immediate tangible benefits for us.  Microsoft, SyCom and ScholarBuys were all instrumental in helping us make this transformation happen and ensured that everything went smoothly.”

Mars Hill has been very pleased with how their transition in Azure has transpired.  Their IT staff was able to quickly get a good understanding of the basic management functions and were able to begin setting up new virtual servers and transitioning multiple applications to those servers quickly and without any complications.  They now have more than a dozen virtual servers in Azure with databases and backup capabilities as well as significant storage for backing up large static databases.  This has taken a lot of pressure off their internal systems so they could make a number realignments of processing and SAN array resources to better fit overall demands from multiple user communities on campus. Additionally, Mars Hill University has developed several automated scheduling procedures to help manage their use by shutting servers down during low use periods which minimizes costs.

“Cloud-based processing allows us to immediately scale processing to meet increased demands during peak times like registration and campus check-in but bring it back down when those peak usage periods are over.  The partnership has been outstanding and we have been grateful for the support between Microsoft, ScholarBuys and SyCom in helping get us over the hurdles associated with this technology.  We are now developing our new business continuity and disaster recovery strategies that will fully leverage Azure servers.”

If you would like to learn more about how ScholarBuys can help with your institution’s transition to cloud services, don’t hesitate to reach out to your ScholarBuys Account Manager!
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