We spoke to Anthony Olivieri, Director of IT at Montgomery County, about why Montgomery County chose Microsoft Office 365 over Google Apps to manage its messaging and collaboration environment. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: Please tell us about Montgomery County.
Olivieri: Located just outside Philadelphia, Montgomery County is the third largest county in Pennsylvania, with a population of more than 800,000. The county delivers a range of citizen services, from public health, property assessment, and road maintenance to law enforcement, courts, and corrections. We have a single IT department to support more than 3,000 employees and 4,000 email accounts in 60 locations at every county agency. One-third of county employees work in the field, including health inspectors, building inspectors, road crews, and social-service caseworkers.
Q: Why did you want to manage your messaging and collaboration with cloud technology?
Olivieri: We had to manage 4,000 email accounts with an aging messaging infrastructure that did not interoperate easily with mobile applications and devices and had become prone to outages that could sometimes literally shut down some agencies. It could cost tens of thousands of dollars in just a few hours, and create up to a week of extra work for the IT team. We had to update our email environment, and based on our projected business needs, expand our messaging and collaboration capabilities. We estimated that it could cost up to [US]$1 million and take 10 months to do it on-premises. We quickly recognized that cloud technology would give us an opportunity to shrink our overall IT infrastructure, decrease costs, and reduce the maintenance and support burden on the IT team.
Q: Why did you choose Microsoft Office 365 over Google Apps?
Olivieri: In 2012, we released an RFP [request for proposal] for cloud-based messaging and collaboration services. Ultimately, we put together a focus group with members from every county agency to attend full-day presentations from IT partners representing Google Apps for Government and Microsoft Office 365. The presentations focused on the day-to-day user experience, from sending email messages, attaching documents, and organizing meetings to file storage and videoconferencing. In online surveys taken at the end of the presentations, 75 percent of the group found Office 365 to be more secure, less disruptive, and a better fit for their average workday than Google Apps. We determined that Office 365-with Lync Online for instant messaging and web conferencing and the option to purchase Yammer for social networking-would provide the reliability, scalability, interoperability, uptime, and data security that we needed.
Q: What benefits are you experiencing by using Office 365?
Olivieri: By adopting Office 365, Montgomery County streamlined service delivery, reduced costs, and got a high-performance messaging and collaboration environment. For example, we’ve enabled sheriff’s deputies to serve warrants without having to come back to the office to retrieve paperwork. County solicitors can find archived email messages in seconds and respond to public-information requests in days instead of weeks. We avoided up to $1 million in new infrastructure costs, and we’re saving at least 30 percent of IT staff time by eliminating manual backups and other maintenance. People can do their jobs without interruption and access their email and calendars from anywhere on any device. If we hadn’t chosen Office 365, we might have built a more stable messaging environment, but we wouldn’t have gotten the enhancements, scalability, and new capabilities that we did.