Non-Profit Improves Reliability and Security with Office 365
Our client is a non-profit with 12 employees. To help a dual-customer base of students and teachers, employees rely on email and digital services to issue syluabus and course information.
The organisation was using e-mail via an independent ISP on computers running different operating systems and varying levels of security patching.
Back-up of critical business data was a manual process that was being performed at the end of the business day, using external USB drives. Hence the organisation was concerned about disaster recovery and how the solution would scale as the company grows. With the help of Beyond Migration, the company decided to migrate to a cloud-based messaging service through Microsoft Office 365 to help it increase reliabilty and security, and ensure a more reliable, secure solution for employees.
"British Ballet Corporation... their partners, did a fantastic job of taking this small business and enabling them to take advantage of Office 365 where in the small business they not only have employees but they also have a wide membership. So the adoption of Office 365 has completely changed both the cost as well as their ability to collaborate and communicate with their members."Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft (Microsoft Partner Conference, 2013).
SituationThe company is a non-profit promoting dance education to over 1,000 students and 500 teachers across the UK. The team originally consisted of seven employees who each have multiple roles within the business. They were relying on their IT environment to communicate to both students and teachers to keep them up to date with current events and maintain their education and award process.
The e-mail system was unreliable and outages were experienced every two weeks. In addition calendaring was not supported by the e-mail system so this made meetings difficult to manage. Due to organic growth each team member had a different make of PC and were running different operating systems. A local PC was being utilised as a file server, without the "standard" resilience measures that would be provided with server hardware such as server-grade hard disk drives and disk drive resilience. Therefore there was often an issue with compatibility of documents between PCs and the team were concerned that the PC used as a file server would fail one day.
An unreliable service was compounded by the organisation's concerns about data back-up and recovery. “I had to back-up company data at the end of each day using USB drives, which worried me immensley.” says the Operations Manager.
Support overheadThe unreliable e-mail service and issues when sharing resulted in the Operations Manager having to provide IT support to other members of the team at least an hour per day. During which time she was unable to focus on business-specific activity. If the e-mail system failed the Operations Manger needed to speak to the e-mail supplier.
Scalability and growthThe company had intentions to expand the team and were concerned about the scalability of its current solution. They required a messaging solution where IT could provision accounts for new employees quickly, and where it would have more predictable costs as the business grows.
SolutionEarly discussions with the team highlighted the major risk to the business - the manual backup that was being performed each night, stored on unprotected USB drives. We also agreed that the e-mail service needed to improve as a key objective prior to growing the business. At the time the desktop computers were all different, running different versions of Windows. As a non-profit organisation, we recommeded that the business investigates the possibilty of a free software grant as this would reduce costs and allow the company to standardise software across all computers using the latest software products.
Office 365 was chosen to address the company's scabilibilty, growth and reliability needs.
Microsoft Software GrantMicrosoft provides free software to Non-Profit organisations, assuming some eligibility requirements can be met. The organisation contacted Microsoft and within a week they were granted a full software grant, providing free copies of many Microsoft products. This was a necessary step in the project as the organisation needed to minismise costs and upgrade all PCs to latest versions of Microsoft Windows an Microsoft Office.
Windows 8In order to reduce support overheads by simplfying the hardware on site and ensure that the company was set-up for the future new desktop machines were purchased and Windows 8 was configured on all desktops. As some users were transisitioning from Windows XP we spent time with each user to ensure that they understood how to use the new interface. The combination of the new interface and newer machines was recevied well by the team after some training.
MigrationTo ensure that the upgrade did not disrupt employee productivity the company embarked on a two-phased approach. First the PCs were replaced and the operating system was upgrade to Windows 8.1. Some initial training was provided on the new interface and the employees were given some time before phase two - moving the email to Office 365. As Office 365 is a cloud based technology, it can be setup within an hour. Migration of e-mail was dependent on how much data each employee had and the speed and reliability of the internet link. The e-mail migration to Exchange Online was performed using the built-in tools provided within Office 365.
“I know that a tenth of my time has been given back to the business. When you take the downtime it's huge.”Operations Manager
Planning for business growthOnce the business had moved to newer technology our business relationship changed and we were asked to consult in a "Virtual CIO" capacity to discuss the organisation's technology plans and proposals from businesses working in other areas such as sales and marketing. Together we refined a strategy based, not on technology products, but on business growth and visible measurement. This exercise heled save significant costs by eliminating uncessary work, providing advice on digital assets and marketing and developing a plan that is more specific to the business's needs.
Office 365 BenefitsWith Office 365, The organisation sees an opportunity to provide a secure, reliable, scalable messaging environment without increasing administration.
Reduces AdministrationWith Exchange Online, the organisation does not have to worry about constant updates, backups, and daily maintenance for its Exchange environment. “Prior to Office 365, there was always problems,” says the Operations Manager. “ even just getting an e-mail out.”
Increases Mobility and ProductivityWith Exchange Online, as long as employees have access to a broadband connection, they can use Outlook Web App in any browser to stay in touch and stay productive. They can also easily access email from their ActiveSync or BlackBerry mobile devices. Employees can also take advantage of many of the productivity-enhancing capabilities in Outlook Web App or Outlook 2010 such as MailTips and Conversation View. With these features, employees can more easily manage their inboxes. “With Exchange Online, employees suddenly have access to the latest capabilities to help them be more productive,” says Hutton Henry, Owner of Beyond Migration.
Provides ScalabilityWith Exchange Online, the organisation has a better solution that gives it better visibility into its IT spending as it builds the business. It can also quickly add accounts for new employees.
Ensures Data ProtectionBy moving messaging services to the cloud, The organisation do have to worry about storing and backing up large amounts of data. Instead, all messaging data will be stored in the cloud and backed up regularly by Microsoft. Because Microsoft provides disaster recovery for Exchange Online and Exchange Server 2010 has native disaster recovery capabilities, The organisation can retire its manual USB back-up solution. With Exchange Online, The organisation can expect disaster recovery through continuously-replicated, geo-redundant data centers that are third-party certified to international standards. With the Legal Hold capability, it can easily set holds on individual or groups of mailboxes, perform searches, and retain messages to meet PCI compliance. The organisation can also take advantage of premium anti-spam and antivirus protection, 24 hours a day, seven days a week IT-level phone support, and a financially backed, 99.9 percent uptime service level agreement.
“I feel with Office 365, we have a platform that will help us grow into the future."Trustee
Microsoft Office 365Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of our most trusted communications and collaboration products—Microsoft SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online—with the latest version of our Office desktop suite and companion web applications for businesses of all sizes. Office 365 helps save time and money, and it frees up valued resources. Simple to use and easy to administer, it is financially backed by a service level agreement that guarantees 99 percent reliability. Office 365 features robust security, IT-level phone support, geo-redundancy, disaster recovery, and the business-class privacy controls and standards that you expect from a world-class service provider.
Contact us for more information about Microsoft Office 365.
“Office 365 provides absolute security, we know everything is backed up. It has been revolutionary in that sense.”Operations Manager