Microsoft Services helps clients avoid drama working quietly behind the headlines

Sometimes no news is good news, especially when what you’re doing is all over the news. When our customers are undertaking high-stakes or high-profile events, the last bit of news anyone wants to hear about is the supporting technology not performing the way it needs to. That’s why in the case of major events such as national blood drives, Black Friday or the Brexit vote, Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Services have helped to ensure that our customers could manage spikes in traffic with zero downtime and with real-time access to key event data and analytics. Below, we’ll take a look at three different examples of how we’ve worked quietly behind the headlines during customer peak times.

Scaling with NHS Blood and Transplant

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) offers the blood service for England and the organ donation and transplant service for the whole of the UK. Completely reliant on volunteers registering to become donors, the service found that their systems were being overwhelmed when high profile celebrities helped with their recruitment campaigns (at times 100-fold traffic increases) and they needed a more agile, responsive system to manage demand and interact with their donors.

Working in conjunction with Microsoft, NHSBT has harnessed Azure to develop an online booking service, plus an app for mobile devices, that accelerates the donor registration process from around a month under the previous system to a matter of hours. These innovations have had the added bonus of appealing to a younger demographic which has increased donor numbers substantially, whilst significantly cutting infrastructure costs for the organisation. Using Azure has allowed NHSBT to scale quickly to keep up with demand and to make it easier for donors to register, book appointments and see when their donations have been used.

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Smooth Sailing on Black Friday

Only a few years ago, Black Friday was a particularly American phenomenon – the Friday right after their Thanksgiving when retailers would try to entice shoppers to start their Christmas shopping. Today, it’s become a major event for UK retailers as well, accounting for over £1 billion in revenue. As the share of Black Friday revenue coming from ecommerce continues to grow (2016 saw a 25% increase in online sales during Black Friday week), it becomes increasingly important for retailers to ensure that their web and mobile channels can manage the spikes in traffic. While site outages can cost retailers £350K/hour during normal trading, that cost skyrockets during peak times such as Black Friday.

To ensure that our retail customers stayed out of the headlines for the kinds of site outages that have plagued less prepared retailers during the Black Friday spike, Microsoft Services worked with many of the UK’s leading retailers to make sure that they scaled up quickly for peak demand and took proactive measures to keep their sites running smoothly. The result was that all online orders could be accepted, maximising revenue and avoiding costly brand damage from an outage or slow customer experience.

Faster, More Insightful Results with the EU Referendum

A third example of Microsoft Services working behind the headlines comes from our work with the UK Electoral Commission (EC), helping to ensure that systems were scalable, secure and reliable during such a high-profile and politically charged event. Using Microsoft Azure, and a tailored Premier contract, Microsoft Services and the EC could also capture data and monitor results from the UK’s 41,000 polling stations. Even with a 72% turnout of the UK’s total electorate of 46.5 million citizens, together we were able to provide real-time analytics to the EC senior leadership and to the press.

With careful planning, and partnership with Microsoft Services, the EC were able to ramp up quickly and were ready for the 23rd June vote. While they had a team on standby in the United States, thanks to the proactive time spent on the systems before the election night there was no drama and as a result Phil Tucker, Head of ICT and Facilities, said: “everything just ran as it should.” The outcome of the referendum certainly created headlines around the world. The systems and people that made the vote accurate and efficient, and that made analysis of the results available in real-time all ran quietly in the background.

Counting on the Cloud

This infographic provides more visibility into how Microsoft Services helped the Electoral Commission manage the referendum vote.

Electoral Commission Infographic

Microsoft Services Overview

Throughout these case studies, Microsoft Services have delivered a variety of proactive services to pre-empt and avoid bad things happening to our client’s systems at their most critical times.

Our support portfolio has many individual service types, which allows us to tailor a package to fit your precise needs. Our 5 most popular additions to the baseline Premier Support service are:

  • Premier Mission Critical is a combination of people, process and technology that maximises uptime and performance
  • Designated Support Engineering is a Premier Support service that brings advanced Microsoft expertise into a customer’s IT team to help achieve more and attain a higher ROI from their Microsoft technology investment
  • Premier Maintained Applications is a Premier add-on that provides ongoing maintenance and sustained engineering for custom solutions built and deployed by Microsoft Consulting Services
  • Premier Support for Developers is Microsoft’s most comprehensive offering focus on developers to help them through the entire application lifecycle
  • Azure Rapid Response – by adding Azure Rapid Response to a Microsoft Premier Support agreement, your customers can expect a 15-minute response time, access to a dedicated team of trusted advisors, and access to proactive services


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