Department for Education: A payroll system migration to AWS Cloud with thousands of salaries at risk

With their strategic local partners, Telstra Purple and AWS, Blue Crystal Solutions were able to migrate the Department for Education's bespoke on-premise payroll system to a secure AWS Cloud environment without additional Oracle licenses and without impacting or degrading services.
Picture of Department for Education South Australia

Department for Education South Australia

Public Sector Cloud Adoption for Department For Education Payroll

The Department for Education in South Australia handles the payroll for thousands of teachers across the state and when they had to migrate their payroll system into a secure cloud environment, there would have been severe consequences if anything went wrong. Blue Crystal Solutions (Blue Crystal), a company with extensive knowledge in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Oracle technologies, was the risk-averse choice—a partner that would ensure the system was safely transferred with a robust Public Sector Cloud Adoption Solution. And the results exceeded expectations: a cost-neutral migration that had zero impact on pay runs and improved the system’s efficiency and data security.

About the Department for Education

In Australia, school-level education is handled by each state rather than the federal government, and the Department for Education is South Australia’s branch. This state department is responsible for delivering public education and care across South Australia, which includes managing the payroll of 32,000 employees.

Enhancing Payroll System Resilience and Data Security

In light of emerging cyber security challenges, the Department for Education has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to technological advancement and robust data security. Guided by this dedication, strategic enhancements have been made to the payroll system, which was previously hosted on infrastructure poised for modernisation. By prioritising the enhancement of data protection and the establishment of solid disaster recovery processes, the Department has not only ensured the continuity of operations but also safeguarded the wellbeing of their educators, thereby reinforcing the resilience of South Australia’s education system against potential threats

There was no commercial off-the-shelf product that could handle the department’s complex requirements. With a bespoke on-premise payroll system comprising of over 65 interfaces, it would not be a simple transition.

Why AWS?

The Department has already started on their path to host some of their systems in the Cloud, a project to migrate was already in place as a result of a partnership between Department for Education, Blue Crystal, AWS, and Telstra.

AWS offered a mature range of tools and products that can be used as the building blocks for hosting the payroll system including networking components such as Gateways, VPCs, Subnets, and Direct Connect, security components such as Security Groups, and NACLs, a wide range of CPU and/or Memory optimised EC2 instances, a wide range of storage and archival solutions with high performance and durability such as S3 and EBS, and the ability to utilise multi-Availability Zones and multi-Regions to extend the availability and recoverability of hosted systems.

Choosing a risk-free local partner 

The Department for Education needed an experienced partner to manage the transition to a cloud-based system.

The Department was looking for a partner who could not only validate the feasibility of cloud migration and leverage existing licensing investment but also mitigate risk through a staged approach, restricted access, and real-time cloud monitoring. This wasn’t just a plug-and-play solution, it was a complex process with multiple moving parts—and that’s where the extensive experience of Blue Crystal was the perfect fit.

Connected through their strategic local partners at Telstra Purple, the department wasattracted to Blue Crystal’s deep knowledge of AWS & Oracle technologies and engaged them as a direct result.

We wanted to work with a local company that had the expertise and knowledge to do this. We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel and do this ourselves, we mitigated risk using Blue Crystal Solutions’ expertise.” – Simon Chapman, Assistant Director, Digital Architecture & Operations, Department for Education

An efficient but meticulous public cloud migration

Although they had taken on a high-pressure project, Blue Crystal knew they could simply follow their usual process. They kicked things off with their Primesize service which was used to generate a workload report and from that, enabled Blue Crystal to create a Target Architecture Report of the system’s workload to ensure it fit within the currently available Oracle licensing. This report included recommended designs and options, and was presented to the department before beginning the transition.

The next step was a Proof-of-Concept (POC) to ensure the process would meet performance requirements and eliminate the risk of any failures during the migration. Blue Crystal provided a detailed migration plan to ensure the department could stay compliant with their licenses, and then implementation began.

The migration wasn’t without its challenges, ultimately justifying the department’s choice in a safe partner. Blue Crystal had to navigate using AWS Direct Connect to bypass the public internet, retention of some on-premises applications, and meticulous planning for a seamless integration. Blue Crystal used a range of AWS services for the process including:

Smooth public cloud migration that generated multiple benefits

The Department for Education’s payroll system was successfully migrated to the new system, which brought several immediate benefits.,.

Their payroll processing is now up to 50% faster, they have reduced incidents around system reliability, eliminated complexities and costs of large-scale capital replacements, and improved data security and redundancy. The migration itself was also cost-neutral in terms of software licensing and there was no impact on pay runs during the change.

About Blue Crystal Solutions

Blue Crystal Solutions is an IT solutions company that gives organisations the technology they need to maximise security, efficiency, productivity, and growth. They provide managed services and consultancy across database, cloud, application, and infrastructure services across Australia, with offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, and Brisbane. In IT, it’s all about the numbers, so Blue Crystal Solutions’s are:

  • Thousands of managed databases, servers, and applications
  • 30+ Cloud Projects delivered
  • 55+ Contracts actively in management
  • Over 60 staff across the country
  • Three major technology partners

Testimonial: Learn more about their Public Sector Cloud Adoption journey in the video below.

Hear Simon Chapman Assistant Director, Digital Architecture & Operations, Department for EducationVito Rinaldi, Managing Director for BCS and Shahin Mohamadian, Partner Acceleration Manager from AWS, recount DfE’s Public Sector Cloud Adoption journey with BCS in partnership with Telstra Purple, leveraging AWS technologies.

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Australian owned and operated since 2004, we provide information technology services locally, nationally and beyond.

We are a specialised supplier of Cloud, Application, Database & Infrastructure, Operating System Management, Modernisation and Transformation services. With security at the forefront of everything we do, all your services are fortified by our integrated outage protection  and monitoring tool, BlueDiamond

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