Creating a more flexible IT environment – Cranfield University

Cranfield University, a postgraduate institution, needed to provide its staff and students with a technology environment with the safety of knowing that server platforms could be installed without the worry of licensing them. The University invested in a Microsoft Enterprise Server Platform Agreement (ESPA), which saved them over £30,000 and provided the flexibility they were looking for.


Cranfield University, set on two campuses in Bedfordshire (Cranfield) and Wiltshire (Shrivenham), is a wholly postgraduate institution catering for those wishing to enrol on Masters’, Doctorate and professional development programmes. Cranfield serves around 2,600 full time students, with an additional 2,000 studying part-time. With expertise in aerospace, automotive, defence, energy, environment, health, management, manufacturing and security, Cranfield rely on their technology being reliable and flexible to their needs.

Like so many other academic establishments across the UK, Cranfield are constantly battling to drive down costs yet still deliver to a high standard. The University felt that they may be able to alter their IT infrastructure in order to achieve the target of lower costs, but were wary that any large changes to their current technologies may adversely impact their ability to deliver in the way they wanted.

Cranfield’s IT department realised that, when building new academic applications in Microsoft SQL Server, they were paying out to license each of them individually, which was often expensive. They found that this was not only uneconomical, but it also did not provide them with the flexibility they were looking for.


Having been a Microsoft SQL Server user, Cranfield were aware of the capabilities which Microsoft products could offer.  They therefore approached a number of Microsoft partners, including Pugh and Civica, to see what new licensing options they may be able to adopt as they felt that ‘Microsoft are known products, and that’s what people expect to use.’

Mike Young at Pugh’s clear communication of the options to the University allowed them to discover ESPA, an agreement developed by Microsoft which enables new server platforms to be installed in the safety of knowing that they do not need to be separately licensed. The fixed cost of ESPA meant that Cranfield paid a one-off cost up-front and didn’t need to worry about budgeting for any additional costs associated with new requirements throughout the year, whilst also allowing the numerous faculties to develop their own server platforms as and when desired.

ESPA not only gave Cranfield the flexibility that they were looking for, but also saved over £30,000, whilst maintaining their capability to deliver.

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