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Case Study: Auto Retailer Adopts Office 365 over Google, Boosts Email Availability, Reliability

Note: This is an abbreviated version of a case study. The full version, along with other Office 365 customer stories, is available here.

Situation

A.P. Eagers, with headquarters in Brisbane, Queensland, is an automotive retail business that owns and operates motor vehicle dealerships across Australia. The company represents a total of 28 car brands-including all 12 top-selling brands in the country-plus 12 truck and bus brands, and it also operates a large motor vehicle auction business. A.P. Eagers was founded in 1913, and it currently employs 2,900 people and had annual revenue of approximately AUS$2.4 billion (US$2.42 billion) in 2011.

A.P. Eagers has grown substantially in recent years, primarily through acquisitions, and this has caused some challenges for the business IT group. The largest challenge that the IT group faced was integrating each new acquired company into a corporate email system that now covers nearly 100 physical locations. For the past 10 years, A.P. Eagers has relied on an on-premises deployment of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 for its email system, and the resources required to maintain and update that installation were increasing rapidly.

“Our on-premises Exchange Server 2003 deployment was growing to a size that was making it very difficult for us to support with our lean IT team,” says Shane Pearce, Manager of Information Services at A.P. Eagers. “Although we limited user mailbox sizes, we had email databases that had grown to more than a terabyte in size, which meant that recovery times for any type of disaster were greater than 24 hours, so we sometimes couldn’t meet the service agreements we had with the business. As the system grew in scale, it was harder and harder for us to deliver an exceptional level of service to employees at all of our locations.”

Solution

A.P. Eagers began working with the local Microsoft office on an alternative solution. Microsoft offered the company an early beta version of Microsoft Office 365 with Microsoft Exchange Online-a welcomed contrast to the Google Mail trial, which the company was required to pay for. For organizations of all sizes, Microsoft Office 365 unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with the power of Microsoft Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online into one connected, online solution. The A.P. Eagers IT staff members were also able to engage directly with the Microsoft team, which gave them a confidence in the Office 365 solution that they didn’t have with Google Mail.

“In our business, cost is the number one driver for IT,” notes Pearce. “Google Mail appears less expensive at first, but once you add in partner fees and the labor required to get it running, it isn’t as cheap as it first appears. Office 365 proved more cost-effective. The cost of change was lower for us.”

Benefits

By adopting Microsoft Office 365 and moving from an on-premises Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 implementation to the cloud-based Microsoft Exchange Online, A.P. Eagers has made it easier for its IT staff to manage a communication system that integrates 100 geographically disparate offices. The company’s employees can reliably access email, either through the company’s computers or remotely, through laptops or mobile devices. And because Microsoft and its partner network are well-established and focused on core productivity technologies, A.P. Eagers is confident that it chose the right team to help the company move its technology infrastructure forward.

  • Simplified Email Integration and Administration: The switch to a remotely hosted and administered email system has provided significant benefits for the A.P. Eagers IT team members, who now spend less time each week dealing with email issues and more time working on other important business projects.
  • Improved Employee Access and Communication: Email is a key form of communication for A.P. Eagers, both within the company and with its customers. The company’s investment in Exchange Online is improving the IT team’s ability to deliver a highly available and feature-rich system.
  • Solid Partners for Future Growth: An important part of the success of the Exchange Online migration was the connection A.P. Eagers made with its local Microsoft team and its technology partner, InverseCurve. A.P. Eagers found both partners to be helpful, responsive, and attuned to the company’s specific needs.

Read the full case study here.

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