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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Office 365 and Windows Azure Come to China

 Today, I’m pleased to announce that Microsoft is bringing its premier public cloud technologies-Office 365 and Windows Azure-to China.  Although we’ve offered Microsoft productivity software in China for decades, this represents our first, big step towards making multi-tenant public cloud services available to millions of businesses in China.

We believe customers should have a choice in how and when they move to the cloud.  In China, we will meet the requirements of customers by delivering Office 365 in two ways: 

  • Services operated by 21Vianet in China. Today, we’ve signed a landmark agreement to license Microsoft technologies to 21Vianet, who will operate and offer Office 365 and Windows Azure services in China. We’ve also signed a memorandum with the municipality of Shanghai, where 21Vianet is locating a major datacenter for these services. This option will provide a consistent Office 365 experience while meeting the demands of customers who prefer to use online services provided by a local company that stores their data within China. These services will be subject to Chinese laws.
  • Services operated by Microsoft. For Chinese customers who prefer to use services managed and delivered by Microsoft itself, we’ll provide Office 365 from Microsoft datacenters in Singapore and Hong Kong. These services will be subject to the laws of Singapore or Hong Kong.

The Shanghai government also announced today that it will adopt both the Office 365 and Windows Azure services from 21Vianet once they are available.  

There is strong demand for secure, reliable and scalable public cloud services in China — a recent Forrester Research report on cloud computing (Forrester Research, Sizing The Cloud Markets In Asia Pacific, Feb. 3, 2012) found that Chinese organizations are beginning to mobilize around the cloud. “The public cloud market in China will grow from $297 million in 2011 to $3.8 billion in 2020. The three segments of the virtual private cloud market will grow from $44 million in 2011 to $1.6 billion in 2020. The unparalleled economic growth in China will certainly help spur strong cloud market growth in China across most cloud segments through 2020.” We’re excited to bring our commercial cloud services to market in China and serve the productivity needs of local businesses.  

Julia White

General Manager, Microsoft Office Division

 

EPA improves employees’ access to communications and mobility tools on Office 365

Today, Microsoft and partner Lockheed Martin are pleased to announce that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving to the cloud with Microsoft Office 365 for Government. This transition will give 25,000 EPA employees better access to communications and mobility tools, and will offer the EPA significant cost savings.

The agency’s decision to move to Office 365 for Government, a new multi-tenant service that stores US government data in a segregated community cloud, will allow them to save an estimated $12 million dollars in the next 4 years while helping employees across departments and in the field to have familiar and secure tools at their fingertips.

Microsoft’s cloud services, backed by the latest innovations in data center design and energy efficiency, provide agencies with a unique opportunity to reduce their energy consumption, generate cost savings, and reduce the environmental impact of their overall technology footprint.

The agency joins the ranks of other public sector organizations that moved to the cloud with Microsoft including the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the states of California, Nebraska and Minnesota. 

You can read the full story here.

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Forget the sticky notes – take your brainstorms to the cloud with Office 365

Has your well planned brainstorm been disrupted by remote or travelling colleagues? For Office 365 customer Ignite Social Media, trying to conduct creative meetings over the phone sometimes presented a challenge. Now, with Lync Online, the company has a reliable, real-time communication tool that’s breaking down state line barriers and taking brainstorming sessions to a whole new level.

Part of Office 365, Lync Online helps you connect with others through instant messaging (IM), video calls, online meetings, and phone calls. To help you get started and make Lync Online even more valuable to your organization, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite tips and tricks.

Get started

Now use it!

How do you use Lync Online? Share your story in the comments below!

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Leading Universities meet HIPAA requirements on Office 365

Many organizations seeking to consolidate resources and save money on their infrastructure and email storage need to balance the benefits of moving to the cloud with assurances on how data is secured and accessed from the cloud.

Microsoft today announced new academic institutions that are adopting Microsoft Office 365, to improve communication and collaboration across campuses while meeting security, privacy and other regulatory requirements mandated by the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Office 365 is the first and only major cloud business productivity solution to address the rigorous HIPAA requirements.

Duke University, Emory University, Thomas Jefferson University, University of Iowa and the University of Washington, chose Office 365 for education after a consortium of academic institutions worked closely with Microsoft to inform a Business Associates Agreement (BAA) to ensure it met their organizations’ HIPAA requirements. As a result of their efforts, Microsoft now offers the most comprehensive agreement to all organizations managing personal health data.

In addition to offering the most comprehensive HIPAA Business Associate Agreement for all customers managing personal health data, Office 365 supports the most rigorous global and regional standards such as ISO 27001, SAS70 Type II, EU Safe Harbor, EU Model Clauses, the US Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and the US Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).

These investments are important because they enable Microsoft to meet a broad range of customer requirements regardless of size or industry.  More importantly, the transparency Microsoft provides via the Office 365 Trust Center gives customers peace of mind and the assurance that their data is just that, theirs and theirs alone.

To learn more about why Duke University, Thomas Jefferson University and others chose Office 365, view the press release.

EPHEC Saves both Time and Money on Office 365

Renowned, Belgian university Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (EPHEC) wanted to prepare its student body of over 4,700 for a work environment where businesses are embracing a more mobile, collaborative setting. To fulfill this goal and keep costs down, the university turned to Microsoft Office 365 for education as the solution of choice.

Before Office 365 for education, EPHEC relied on one aging server that only provided the university’s staff and administrators with email – its students had no formal email service of any kind. Now, with Office 365 for education, students have secure, anywhere access to email and calendars, Office Web Apps, web conferencing and file sharing allowing them to work remotely on projects with classmates and professors who may be spread across the university’s three campuses.

Because Office 365 for education is offered at no cost to educational institutions, EPEC saved over 7,000 euros each month and three IT staff are able to devote time to other priorities. Saving money, however, wasn’t the primary motive for the move. EPHEC sought to provide online collaboration and communication to their students to ensure they are truly prepared for today’s workforce.

You can go here to read more about how businesses and organizations around the world are benefitting from Office 365.

Real World with Cloud Services: Interview with David Seah, Senior IT Manager, Hersing Corporation

As part of the Real World with Cloud Services series, we spoke to David Seah, Senior IT Manager at Hersing Corporation, about why Hersing chose to manage its messaging and collaboration environment with Microsoft Office 365 instead of Google Apps. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: Please tell us about Hersing Corporation.

Seah: Hersing is based in Singapore, and we provide real estate brokerage, property management, money transfer, and brand management services for global brands such as ERA, RIA, Coldwell Banker, and Western Union. We have more than 5,000 employees and agents throughout South East Asia.

Q: Why did you want to manage your messaging and collaboration with cloud technology?

Seah: We managed an internal email system for our 200 office employees, but we had almost 5,000 field agents communicating with everything from Google Mail or Yahoo, to text messaging with their mobile phones. Everybody-employees and agents-used every kind of mobile device you can name. In all those domains, messages were sometimes delayed or filtered as spam, and attachments got lost or corrupted. Communication is fast-paced in real estate, and we need to send and receive photographs, documents, and agreements quickly and reliably. We needed a standardized corporate domain, but we knew that building an on-premises messaging environment for 5,000 scattered users would require a heavy investment in infrastructure.

Q: Why did you choose Microsoft Office 365 instead of Google Apps?

Seah: We spent almost four weeks evaluating Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 side by side. We used each solution to compose, send, and manage messages, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and calendar items, and Office 365 appeared to be the right choice from the very beginning. Cost is one factor, but we also wanted a familiar interface that our employees could adopt quickly with minimal disruption. We didn’t think Google Apps was rich enough compared to the Microsoft tools we were familiar with, and we thought that Office 365 was more appropriate for enterprise. Google Apps is divided in separate modules, but Office 365 is integrated into a single suite that interoperates well with other solutions. And by choosing Office 365, we can provide our employees with instant messaging, web conferencing, and document sharing capabilities far superior than Google Apps.

Q: What benefits are you experiencing by using Office 365? 

Seah: By adopting Office 365, we are making it easier for our employees and agents to communicate, cooperate, and serve customers more effectively. All of our 5,000 employees and agents will communicate from a common domain, which will help us serve customers better, be more competitive, and maintain a positive business identity. Without having to invest in a large internal infrastructure, we have the agility to scale up Office 365 as we add new field agents and expand into new markets. We avoided [US]$100,000 in infrastructure costs and saved $200,000 in licensing and admin costs for third-party instant messaging, web conferencing, and document sharing solutions. Google had gaps we would have had to fill, but when we subscribed to Office 365, we had a working enterprise solution right from the start.

Read the full story online. For more success stories about people like David Seah at Hersing, read other real-world testimonials on the whymicrosoft website.

What benefits is your organization experiencing with Office 365?

Global construction company VINCI switches off Google Apps and turns on Office 365

The world’s top facilities management and construction group VINCI recently made the decision to offer Microsoft Office 365 to its 183,000 employees spread over 2,500 subsidiaries across almost 100 countries. The move is inspired by the positive response of one of its subsidiaries – VINCI PLC – who switched its 1,400 employees to Microsoft Exchange from Google Apps in 2011. The company expects the move to the cloud to allow employees across continents and time zones the ability to work together in a more collaborative and mobile environment.

VINCI chose Office 365 for both the flexibility of the service and the level of customer support Microsoft offers. VINCI felt confident in Microsoft’s 30 years of enterprise expertise and appreciated the host of tools available to tackle business requirements. With Office 365 VINCI established new internal structures like a company social network to help innovate their corporate culture and working style while encouraging collaboration through Microsoft Lync. Enabling access to content online or offline provided employees the mobility to get the job done anytime, anywhere.

Now that VINCI has plans to move the entire company on Office 365, its 183,000 employees will be able to collaborate more effectively allowing them to continue to design, build, finance and manage facilities that are a part of our everyday lives.

Read more Office 365 customer stories here.

Knowledge is power: Evaluating the benefits of cloud adoption

Today Adrienne Hall, general manager, Trustworthy Computing shared in an RSA Europe keynote that Microsoft has released a new free Cloud Security Readiness tool.

Microsoft developed the tool, in part, to help organizations address two critically important business questions:

Where are we – in terms of our current IT state?
Where will we be – if we adopt a particular cloud service?

The new free Cloud Readiness tool (www.microsoft.com/trustedcloud) helps organizations better understand their systems, processes, policies and practices. The tool offers a short, easy to use survey that seeks information about the maturity level of an organization’s current IT infrastructure and industry. The tool uses this information to provide relevant guidance in a custom report so organizations can better understand their IT status and more easily evaluate cloud services against critical areas.  It also helps to identify an organization’s compliance with common industry standards like the Health Insurance, Portability and Accountability Act [HIPAA / HITECH Act], International Organizations for Standardization [ISO/IEC] 27001-2005 and many more.

The great news for organizations looking at moving to the cloud is that Microsoft built Office 365 from the ground up with security, privacy and reliability in mind.  Today, Office 365 offers the most robust set of certifications and standards options of any major cloud based productivity service for all customers.

To learn more about security, privacy and reliability in Office 365, I invite you to visit the Office 365 Trust Center and the Trustworthy Computing blog for more perspective on these topics.

 

‘The Choice Is Clear’: Toyota Motor Corporation drives their business forward on Office 365

Today, Toyota Motor Corporation announced the company will provide the option of choosing to use Microsoft Office 365 to more than 200,000 employees of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. and other affiliates globally to streamline its communications and collaboration capabilities.

In addition to using Office 365, Toyota will provide its employees based in Japan and other overseas affiliates with on-premises versions of Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Lync and Windows Server.  Doing so enables the company to deploy the solutions that best meet their business needs while also taking advantage of the choice and flexibility Microsoft’s hybrid cloud model provides.

This news expands on a previous announcement of Toyota’s adoption of Microsoft technologies.  In April 2011, Toyota and Microsoft united to provide next-generation telematics services like GPS systems and other multimedia technologies using the Windows Azure cloud platform.  

With Microsoft technologies, Toyota is better able to support mobile devices, reduce IT costs and improve collaboration between employees. By integrating both cloud- and on-premises environments, Toyota provides its employees with more opportunities to collaborate and connect with each other, whether within the same office or throughout locations around the world.

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Microsoft cited as leader in cloud collaboration by independent research firm

Forrester Research, Inc., has named Microsoft as a leader in the cloud collaboration market in its August 2012 report entitled “The Forrester WaveTM: Cloud Strategies of Online Collaboration Software Vendors, Q3 2012.”

Among eight vendors, Microsoft’s Office 365, which includes SharePoint Online, earned the highest score for “Current Offering.” Recent Microsoft acquisition Yammer landed the top score for “Strategy.”

In the report, Forrester noted: “Office 365 eases enterprises into the cloud by allowing IT leaders to pick which collaboration workloads move into the cloud and which remain on-premises.” In this evaluation, Microsoft had the top scores in sub-categories for breadth of offering, and availability and resiliency, and was tied with other vendors for the top scores in sub-categories for language localization, IT administration, customization, pricing structure, service delivery mechanisms, integration, corporate customers, and partner ecosystem.

Microsoft’s leadership in cloud collaboration is one of the reasons why Office 365 is on track to be one of the fastest growing offers in Microsoft history.  With Microsoft products and services, customers can get the best productivity experience in the cloud and on-premises, and always on their terms.  

Additional Information:

Nonprofits communicate with ease on Office 365

 

Two Italian nonprofit organizations – Oxfam and Emergency – have turned to Microsoft Office 365 for a secure and reliable cloud service, allowing them to expand the scope of their international initiatives of combatting poverty, providing aid and promoting human rights across the globe without putting an increased burden on IT.

Oxfam consists of 17 organizations networked together in more than 90 countries, as part of a global movement for change.  They specialize in humanitarian aid and development projects with the goal of building a future free of poverty. The worldwide distribution of Oxfam’s offices requires an infrastructure that is manageable and allows for seamless collaboration between employees across several countries. Oxfam’s Italy office needed to find a way to exchange information and materials efficiently and securely. Thanks to the support of Microsoft and partner company Tempestive, the Italian offices of Oxfam got on Office 365 and are now more effective in carrying out the daily activities of the organization. This means Oxfam can reach more people in need more quickly.

Emergency is a humanitarian organization founded in 1994 that brings free surgical care to victims of war, landmines and poverty. Emergency currently operates in a number of countries across the globe including Afghanistan, Iraq, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone and Sudan as well as two group practices and two mobile clinics in Italy. With this many locations, the organization needed an email solution that would allow for dependable, efficient and secure communication across all offices. In collaboration with SoftJam partners, Emergency developed a hybrid solution, where the organization migrated to Exchange 2010 and Office 365, allowing the company to use both the on-premise system and the cloud depending on their need. Emergency now has the tools that allow them to focus on their patients rather than their technology.

To learn more about how Microsoft’s Corporate Citizenship efforts are helping nonprofits achieve their goals, visit Microsoft’s nonprofits page here.

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