Blue Coast Capital was formed in 2019 when UK & European Investments Ltd and Lewis Trust Group (LTG) merged, bringing together two companies with more than 50 and 60 years’ commercial experience respectively. UK & European Investments Ltd invested in and developed residential and commercial properties across the USA and Europe, whilst LTG was best known for founding the iconic retailer Chelsea Girl in 1965, as well as River Island in 1988.
Today, Blue Coast Capital is a private equity firm with interests remaining in real estate, retail, entertainment and more, with investments in brands such as Mint Velvet, Zumba Fitness, Domino’s Pizza and The Hut Group. It remains a privately-owned business, with 110 employees and a number of the Lewis family still operating at senior levels.
Blue Coast Capital were looking to refresh their existing on-premises infrastructure as it was reaching its natural End of Life. This presented the perfect opportunity to modernise infrastructure and become “Cloud First”, with the company looking to rehost their 9 Windows Servers on Azure thanks to the platform’s innate scalability and security capabilities. This would assist Blue Coast Capital with any future growth and make expanding their infrastructure to incorporate any new acquisitions straightforward.
There was also a desire to upgrade to a Microsoft Modern Workplace solution in order to allow end users to work more efficiently and collaboratively. Additionally, the company needed to partner with an IT provider who could support their in-house IT team when needed.
Blue Coast Capital wanted to choose a Microsoft specialist for their digital transformation project, and engaged with three Microsoft Partners. They ultimately selected Transparity thanks to the Gold Partner demonstrating an in-depth understanding around the Modern Workplace and Azure platforms.
Transparity moved Blue Coast Capital’s servers into Azure, creating an environment which was modern, accessible and scalable, as well as taking advantage of Azure’s enhanced security protocols. The migration has allowed Blue Coast Capital to move from CapEx to OpEx expenditure, as the cost of the maintenance and ongoing infrastructure refreshes has been eliminated.
The project was designed to be a “lift and shift” due to the Windows server’s End of Life being imminent. Transparity were able to capitalise on a Microsoft offer on behalf of Blue Coast Capital, where Windows 2008 servers would achieve extended support until 2022 if they were being migrated to Azure.
To provide staff with a sophisticated new working environment, Transparity cross-optimised Azure with Microsoft 365 E5. This offered a number of best-of-breed, Cloud-based security, communication and collaboration solutions, which would empower staff to become more productive and to work from anywhere. The latter was achieved with Microsoft Intune; an enterprise-grade app which offers Mobile Device Management, allowing staff to access files and data across any device they use. Features include Single-Sign On for easy access whilst Multi-Factor Authentication adds an additional layer of security to protect against unauthorised usage.
Microsoft Intune is included as component of Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS), a part of Microsoft 365. Also included in EMS is Azure Active Directory (AD), from where Intune pulls in user information.
Azure AD provides a single identity platform across Microsoft Cloud apps, enabling users to sign in and access documents and services based on their user profile. Azure AD also offers the ability to set Conditional Access policies to prevent or allow users to view or edit documents – based on criteria such as IP location or device used – as well as make real-time changes to permissions in just a few clicks. For a company which handles vast amounts of commercially and financially-sensitive data, the ability to control who has access to this information at any time is imperative.
Blue Coast Capital now have an enterprise-grade Cloud environment which will allow staff to be more productive and collaborative, as well as work securely from anywhere. The new Cloud-based services also mean that any acquisitions or divestitures in the future can effortlessly be accommodated onto Blue Coast Capital’s Azure platform, as it is designed to easily scale as the company continues to grow.
“I chose to work with Transparity due to their level of expertise, support, product knowledge and accreditations in the Microsoft stack. I have full faith that my Infrastructure and users get great support, which allows me to focus on projects and other areas of the business. My Account Manager Tom quickly adapted to my style of working by understanding me and the business that we work in. I work with Transparity continually as they engage me in more of the Microsoft feature sets. Without Transparity I wouldn’t have learnt what I have today, and long may it continue.”
James Macro, Head of IT at Blue Coast Capital