The Company

Nelnet International (Nelnet Intl) plays a pivotal role in supporting a diverse range of clients spanning the education, local government, and healthcare sectors. Within its extensive suite of services, the company provides a sophisticated set of tools, including a powerful e-commerce payment platform, a comprehensive student management platform, actively managed tuition payment plans, incidental payment processing services, and specialised consulting expertise.

These offerings provide organisations an in-depth analysis of their business processes, providing access to analytical data and the unification of disparate elements within their operations. By delivering a suite of services, Nelnet International not only addresses the immediate needs of its clients but also lays the foundation for the development of agile businesses across various sectors.

The Challenge

Nelnet International faced the challenge of dealing with end-of-life hardware and on-premises equipment which required urgent replacement, as the existing infrastructure was not supporting Nelnet Intl’s growing resilient business model. As a result, progress was hindered by a lack of support and time constraints from the current support model. In navigating the complex landscape, Nelnet International recognised the need for a more agile and supportive infrastructure to sustain its forward-looking business model.

The Solution

AC3 worked with Nelnet International to collaboratively develop a robust Azure Landing Zone arrangement to establish effective governance with minimal complexity.

This strategic effort identified opportunities for Nelnet Intl to leverage economies of scale, optimising shared resource utilisation within Azure. AC3 guided Nelnet Intl in crafting a multi-subscription landing zone based on Azure Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) principles, providing both immediate solutions and a foundation for long-term scalability.

AC3 collaborated closely with Microsoft, offering continuous feedback on reviewing and validating design elements, providing insights into future roadmap developments for better designing Nelnet Intl's Automanage landing zone. Microsoft also assisted with cost optimisation strategies, provided technical insights into products, facilitated discussions on roadmap and funding options, and coordinated with Nelnet International's US global head office regarding licensing requirements.

The integration of a Hub and spoke setup with Cloudflare enhanced Nelnet Intl's cloud infrastructure, aligning seamlessly with business objectives and ensuring optimised performance, heightened security, and streamlined operations in the Azure ecosystem. The result is a strategic, well-executed solution demonstrating a commitment to security, innovation and efficiency, tailored to meet the evolving technological landscape of Nelnet International. AC3 and Nelnet International’s partnership proved invaluable in order to create a robust Azure Landing Zone framework, seeking to establish streamlined governance with minimal complexity.

The Results

The project resulted in the successful migration of all workloads for Nelnet Intl’s two main application workloads, comprising 180+ virtual machines. AC3 performed a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis, documented lessons learned, and employed various services and technologies such as Azure Landing Zone, Azure Firewall, Azure DevOps, ARM templates, Azure Automanage, Microsoft Sentinel, Microsoft Defender for Cloud, Microsoft AppLocker, Microsoft image builder, and Data Migration Service (DMA).

AC3's contributions included designing and deploying the Azure Landing Zone, establishing on-premises connectivity, setting up a Proof of Concept (POC) and validating the migration approach, assisting with data migration, demonstrating Disaster Recovery (DR) capability in the POC, setting up backup and DR capabilities, providing cost optimisation reports, discussing strategies, and handling documentation and handover.

AC3 successfully solved the business challenge by completing the migration within budget and on time, allowing Nelnet International to exit their data centre. Additionally, AC3 assisted Nelnet Intl's team in migrating all their workloads to the latest OS and SQL versions, facilitating Nelnet International's application modernisation. The technical challenge was addressed with the migration of 180+ workloads to Azure. This comprehensive solution not only resolved the existing challenges but positioned Nelnet International for enhanced scalability, resilience, and technological advancement within the dynamic landscape of cloud computing.