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Paramount Consultancy & Training Services Limited
Paramount Consultancy & Training Services Limited
Firm Provides Anytime, "Anywhere, Any Device" E-Learning Services in the Microsoft Cloud
Paramount Consultancy & Training Services Limited, which provides learning courses and material for various industries, wanted a more flexible solution than traditional, classroom-based training. Working with UppCast, a provider of e-learning products, Paramount is delivering training services that run in the cloud on the Windows Azure platform. As a result, the company can deliver training material anytime, anywhere, and to virtually any device. The solution can be adopted easily and affordably by industries of any size and type, and students benefit from an optimized learning experience.
"Because we’re using UppCast on Windows Azure, students can access coursework using their preferred device at any time they like, and as often as needed. So it addresses multiple learning styles, and it’s available around the clock."
Paramount Consultancy & Training Services in Wrexham, North Wales, provides a range of services including consultancy, training courses, and solutions for several market sectors. Because many of its customers operate in complex business environments with multiple locations, the company wanted a more flexible solution for delivering training courses.
Long-term training programs, such as management courses for senior executives, required many sessions and could take a year to complete. “With multiple sites, getting people in the same place at the same time for training can be difficult,” says Margaret Sutherland, Training Director at Paramount Consultancy & Training Services Limited. “It’s challenging to ensure that every manager will be able to attend all of the sessions in a 12-month period because you always have to take into account business needs.”
Electronic delivery offered a potential solution, but differing work habits presented further challenges. Some trainees, especially those who traveled frequently, preferred to use mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones; others worked exclusively with office PCs.
Paramount needed a solution that would be accessible from any device and location. Equally important, the solution had to be easy to use and manage, with minimal software installed on local client devices.
Paramount Consultancy & Training Services Limited asked UppCast—a Microsoft partner and a provider of e-learning products—to help implement a new solution. UppCast created a product that offered audio and video files as podcasts, and then added the capability to upload documents as well. As a final step, the company migrated its solution from an on-premises OS X-based server to the cloud on the Windows Azure platform.
The platform-as-a-service offering includes Windows Azure Cloud Services, Windows Azure SQL Database, and Windows Azure Storage. UppCast is also using Windows Azure Mobile Services, which provides several advantages. For example, the company could create a scalable solution for platforms including Windows, Android, and iOS devices. In addition, users would be able to download and work with the data offline.
In April 2013, Paramount and UppCast began a pilot project with a manufacturing customer in England. Paramount is currently delivering management training with UppCast, and it plans to add induction, health, and safety material next. The management training includes multimedia content such as instructional videos for operating manufacturing equipment. UppCast can also easily connect with other online offerings such as Microsoft Office 365 to provide additional functionality. During the next stage, the solution will roll out to the customer’s plants across Europe. Paramount and UppCast also look forward to implementing the solution in other market sectors, including education. The companies also plan to integrate the solution with Microsoft System Center products and Active Directory service.
With a cloud-based learning solution from UppCast and Microsoft, Paramount is improving access to training material, providing better flexibility, gaining easy and affordable implementation, and optimizing the learning experience.
Provides Continuous Access to Training Material
In the past, it could be difficult to ensure that employees in various locations had timely access to training material and courses. Now, Paramount can provide training anytime to users in virtually any location. “Tracking people down and delivering content across sites, time zones, and work shifts could be challenging, to say the least,” says Sutherland. “But with UppCast on Windows Azure, people can always find the most current information, and the material can be instantly updated.”
Achieves Better Flexibility
The solution is also more flexible for both Paramount and its customers. “Everyone has different needs,” notes Sutherland. “Because we’re using UppCast on Windows Azure, students can access coursework using their preferred device at any time they like, and as often as needed. So it addresses multiple learning styles, and it’s available around the clock.”
Other advantages include the ability to download and work with course material offline—important for anyone working or studying with intermittent Internet service. “One of the main goals of this platform is to provide flexibility,” says Lavdim Cena, Managing Director of UppCast. “Anyone who shares a workload between the office or school and home can benefit from using UppCast on Windows Azure.”
“Because the solution is running entirely in the cloud on the Windows Azure platform, it cannot be affected by the hardware failures and connectivity loss typical of on-site solutions,” says Marco Petraroia, Development Director at UppCast. “On top of this, Windows Azure gives us the flexibility to scale and adapt our infrastructure, and to manage it from one central location. Moving from an on-premises OS X server to Windows Azure was game-changing.”
Gains Easy, Affordable Implementation
Paramount, UppCast, and their customers are gaining affordable, simplified implementation with minimal investment in on-premises infrastructure. “With UppCast running on Windows Azure, we can provide a product with less upfront risk and investment for our customers,” says Cena. “Instead of purchasing servers and software and then training IT staff, they can just sign up for a subscription or even a try-before-you-buy option.”
The solution is also easily configurable for multiple industries and organizations of all sizes, which reduces implementation costs while giving both Paramount and UppCast a competitive advantage. “UppCast on Windows Azure is not a one-size-fits-all solution,” says Sutherland. “It’s flexible and scalable, and we can easily adapt it to meet the needs of each organization.”
Optimizes Learning with Better Usability
Students don't need to be very IT literate, they can simply log on to the site and immediately begin using the course material. Because students can simply log on to the program and immediately begin using the course material, there is little need for additional training and support. “By using UppCast on Windows Azure, students gain practical experiential learning in the classroom, and then they can go home and reinforce that learning by reviewing the material again,” says Sutherland. “So when it comes time for the exam, students have built a better knowledge base.”
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