SoftwareOne case study

Secure schooling for unlimited learning

A group of girls in school uniforms walking down the street.

Secure schooling from anywhere by unlocking best-in-class Microsoft 365 Security Features

A school founded in 627AD is setting an example of how to use the latest technology to ensure learning can occur securely from anywhere while future-proofing its IT infrastructure. After being the target of a phishing attack, St Peter’s School in York, UK, immediately turned to SoftwareOne for help.

The school moved to Microsoft 365 A5 to unlock the best-in-class security features for its cloud environment. Working closely with SoftwareOne as its technical design authority partner to create a zero-trust model, staff and pupils are kept secure, no matter where they’re based. SoftwareOne’s 365Simple eases license management, ensuring the school maximizes the value of its IT spend.

St Peter's School, York logo
St Peter’s School, York, UK
SoftwareOne 365Simple Migration with Microsoft 365 A5; Technical design authority and implementation partner; SoftwareOne PyraCloud platform
United Kingdom
As IT at St Peter’s is managed by a relatively small team, it can be challenging to balance the demands of IT provision. In the specialist field of cloud technologies, we felt it would be valuable to have assistance from an expert in the field to review our M365 policies and assist with our SharePoint migration project.

Adam Robinson
IT Operations Manager, St Peter’s School

About the client

St Peter’s School is an independent, leading day and boarding co-educational school for 1,200 children aged 2 to 18 based in York, UK.

It is the fourth oldest school globally, having been founded in 627AD and counts Guy Fawkes as one of its past pupils. It was named the TES Pre-Prep and Independent School of the Year 2021 and the Sunday Times North Independent Secondary School of the Year in 2019. The school’s vision combines a classical, high-quality, all-around education with a forward-looking and exciting approach to learning.

The challenge

A few years ago, St Peter’s School recognized the need to invest in its IT infrastructure to ensure a top-of-the-range learning experience for pupils. But like all schools, this required careful planning to ensure any investment was well spent. It had a small IT team responsible for an extensive modernization project, including replacing its entire physical backbone and implementing a new network.

During the pandemic, all staff and pupils used Microsoft 365 primarily for email and Teams, enabling remote learning. SoftwareOne had just been engaged with St Peter’s to advise how best to use the Microsoft 365 suite when a phishing attack hit the school.

SoftwareOne immediately helped St Peter’s identify email accounts affected by the breach and remediated these swiftly. The team also completed a review of the school’s existing Microsoft 365 security position and identified several areas in need of modernization, particularly around identity and access management.

Due to a complex combination of legacy Office licenses and Microsoft 365 A1 licenses, it was a challenge for the IT team to do a forensic analysis of the phishing attack on its own. It also had limited security controls in its existing licensing plan and internal knowledge around the advanced security capabilities of Microsoft 365.

Two women in suits working in a lab.

The solution

St Peter’s moved 1,200 student and 500 staff licenses to SoftwareOne’s 365Simple managed service with Microsoft 365 A5. This unlocked best-in-class security features available for the school’s cloud environment. At the same time, the managed service ensures that the IT team has complete visibility and management of its software licenses plus improved support.

SoftwareOne is also working with St Peter’s as a technical design authority partner, creating the proper security controls for its environment and rapidly taking steps towards a zero-trust model, including:

  • Removing on-premises identity infrastructure reliance for cloud resources, utilizing Intune for device management and Azure AD for identity and access management
  • Implementing machine learning based EDR for its endpoints using Microsoft Defender for Endpoint
  • Implementing automation around user behavior utilizing Cloud App Security and Defender for Identity
  • Creating access policies that fit the school’s requirements using Conditional Access

The result

  • Preventing data leakage: Schools hold sensitive pupil information, so it’s critical to define exactly where data can be stored or downloaded. SoftwareOne worked with St Peter’s to create best-in-class security policies, ensuring the school is always in control of its data.
  • Empowering teachers and students: By moving to Microsoft 365 A5, St Peter’s has unlocked the full range of Microsoft educational technologies, including Minecraft for Education. As a school committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, the extensive accessibility features in the Microsoft 365 suite ensures students and teachers can work effectively regardless of ability.
  • Taking control of cloud spend: SoftwareOne’s 365Simple with PyraCloud has empowered the school to control its licenses, add or remove users as needed, and get insight into license usage. For example, if a school intake year is smaller with fewer required licenses, this can be adjusted in the PyraCloud portal. This saves the school time and money.
  • Automating security: It is rare to see a school with a dedicated Security Operations Center (SOC). By deploying the security stack within its licenses, SoftwareOne is working with St Peter’s to automate security, ensuring that critical decisions are made at the time of an incident, minimizing any impact.
  • Balancing security and productivity: Moving to Azure AD for identity has allowed St Peter’s to define policies that are not intrusive for the student or teacher workday. It also maintains a robust identity security policy using multi-factor authentication based on device and risk conditions.
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