Drug discovery start-up

Integrated IT with Office 365 and AzureAD

The Scenario

One of the most ambitious Oxford spinouts to date is en route to becoming a powerhouse in age-related regenerative medicine, developing drugs which can treat cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, heart failure, macular degeneration and other major age-related conditions.

This start-up, like many were using a mixture of MacBook’s (Mac OS) laptops, Google’s G-Suite for Email and Dropbox for file storage. This meant each user had multiple account identities and passwords to access these services, which all had to be maintained separately. As they started to transition from a start-up to a more established company, it became clear that they needed integrated IT solutions that worked together seamlessly via Single Sign On (SSO), supporting advanced security policies such as device encryption and offered centralised administration.

The Solution

Syplex proposed moving to a Microsoft Windows 10 and Microsoft 365 Cloud services platform to provide a fully integrated solution and support the future growth of the company. Microsoft Office 365 provides the Office client software, enterprise email and SharePoint collaboration environment to replace the previous mix of systems. In addition, Syplex implemented Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EM+S) for device management and advanced security features.

Office 365

One of the advantages of adopting a unified solution is the tight integration between components that have been designed to work together. The employees had previously experienced problems using Outlook with Googlemail, so were keen to benefit from an integrated email solution with Office 365. Syplex used BitTitan to migrate all existing mailbox content to the 365 servers for a seamless transition.

Staff are able to create a SharePoint site structure for internal document storage, as well as to support extensive collaboration with external third parties. Access permissions can be set easily and staff can synchronise entire document libraries with their laptops using OneDrive. Security policies limit external collaborators to upload and download files using a web browser.

AzureAD Premium

AzureAD is the common account directory which underpins all of the Microsoft Cloud based services, but AzureAD Premium P1 licences (included in EM+S E3) add authentication functionality that for example, supports office locations to be identified as trusted sites or allow SSO integration with 3rd party systems.

Multifactor Authentication (MFA) can be enabled for AzureAD to provide significantly more protection for account identities, typically by using a mobile phone app as a second means of confirming identity at logon, so even a compromised password doesn’t allow a security breach.

AzureAD Premium authentication is increasingly supported by other cloud applications such as Dotmatics, GoToMeeting and Salesforce. This allows users to sign-on to these third-party applications

using their Office365/AzureAD credentials instead of having to remember multiple usernames and passwords and adhering to the same security principals as Office365/AzureAD.

Microsoft Intune

Syplex leverage Intune, Microsoft’s Cloud-based device management platform included in EM+S, to control Windows and Office updates and deploy security policies, software installations and scripts directly to end user’s machines without any user intervention. Compliance levels and associated policies combine to deny access to services if the endpoint doesn’t meet the required standard.

The Conclusion

Cloud-based IT solutions offer superb functionality without capital investment or even IT skills, so are a natural choice for start-up companies.  However, as small start-ups grow and need to support more users the benefits of the mature and highly integrated solutions from Microsoft become increasingly compelling.  The Microsoft Cloud solutions are easily scalable from a single entrepreneur up to thousands of users, and having been developed from the leading business computing applications they have the breadth of functionality for the long term.

This start-up is now benefitting from a highly integrated, centrally managed IT system covering everything from laptops and mobile devices through to co-working with external 3rd parties in a secure environment.  This puts the company in a great position from which to scale up as their product pipeline develops.