Founded in 2014, Thirteen is a large housing association managing more than 34,000 homes across the North East and Yorkshire. They offer a broad range of properties with varying affordable options to rent and buy. Thirteen also offers housing support services, providing services around employability and skills development, care and support, and tenancy management services, in addition to their new home building programme. Thirteen is a Top 50 organisation (by annual turnover) in the region.
Thirteen employs 1,500 staff providing a wide variety of services for their 70,000 tenants, so the need for an IT operating model to match their efficiency and help support their growth was imperative. Having already adopted Microsoft’s Azure Public Cloud, Thirteen was interested in understanding and implementing governance best practices in accordance with Microsoft’s Cloud Adoption Framework. The Cloud Adoption Framework is a set of tools, documents, guidelines and best practices designed to help organisations create and implement business and technology strategies effectively for Cloud adoption.
Microsoft Gold Partner Transparity were initially recommended to Thirteen by Microsoft. After attending an online event, they attended a workshop to better understand governance best practices within Azure. Following this session, Thirteen decided to partner with Transparity to implement a number of polices specific to their existing Cloud environment.
The core objective of the project was to implement Azure policies and provide Thirteen with a scalable, secure and best practice Azure Cloud environment. To align their policies and implement a Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) Governance structure, three key stages were outlined. These started with defining the Cloud strategy and policies, moving onto implementation of Azure policies and best practice foundations, and finally ensuring governance and management of the Azure environment. As with any Cloud adoption, the requirement for clear and well-defined policies is key.
The strategy started with creating an internal process for tagging, resulting in clearly-marked and assigned tags to resources, improving management and reducing time spent locating assets. Baseline policies were also introduced to provide an overall coverage of all key areas, including security, governance and management within the Azure environment, affecting both existing adoption as well as Cloud services to be onboarded in future. Additionally, baseline policies create a foundation for ensuring governance of resources and user migration and adoption. They can also be built upon and expanded when new resources are introduced, making them versatile and scalable.
Thirteen now has a best practice environment that not only reduces overhead costs, but also ensures that security posture is optimised. The Microsoft Gold Partner has built best practice Azure policies that are fit for the existing migrated workloads, continued operation of the Azure environment and future Azure services and resources, yet to be implemented. Thirteen now has an Azure platform that is well governed and in-keeping with industry standards, giving the freedom and confidence to build their Azure Cloud environment with policies supporting their structure and growth.