We know IT.
We understand the pain. We’re a business too.
Like any company, TBI needs to update our business technologies and applications to remain competitive. In our quest to provide superior support and improve collaboration, we took a look at upgrading our Microsoft Office and messaging tools.
TBI employs roughly 150 people in our Chicago office and has remote employees nationwide. The entire team uses the Microsoft Office suite to communicate, collaborate and share documents. Looking to better connect internal team members and external associates and improve support services, TBI decided to upgrade our legacy email environment by implementing Office 365.
Previously, we were running Exchange 2013 through a virtual machine on a Server 2013 R2. Email data was being stored locally on an EMC storage area network (SAN) and backed up through local QNAP network attached storage (NAS). We automatically archived emails more than a year old to save data storage space. Help Desk received daily tickets to search archived emails or emails in the Barracuda Spam Filter.
As our number of email users grew so did our need for data storage, requiring frequent increases. Varying on-boarding times lead to employees operating on three different versions of Office: only 15 users on Office 2013 and the remainder running on Office 2007 or 2010. In addition, we were using two instant messaging systems, which were not connected. Employees using ShoreTel desk phones were using ShoreTel Communicator, and all other employees were using BigAnt Messenger.
Recognizing that TBI would only continue to grow, we needed consistency with our email and messaging tools. We knew Office 365 would keep us better equipped. For a nominal monthly fee ($10-20/user), all of TBI would operate in sync on the most current version of Microsoft Office. Plus there was no large capital expenditure, no on-going software expenses (accounts, licenses, etc.) and less time spent on managing upgrades.
Migrating to Office 365
TBI migrated from our on-premises system to Office 365 over a 3-month period. Because of the large size of email mailboxes (some were 30 gig) we needed to take our time and prevent any data loss. We ran systems in tandem during the migration, making sure new emails were properly delivered to the 365 environment.
With migration complete, all TBI employees now use one version of Office and Skype for Business. Microsoft performs upgrades to the cloud-based application at no additional cost, keeping all employees operating on the latest version. TBI now utilizes Skype for Business as a collaboration tool, allowing users to IM, screen share, make SIP calls and hold group conversations right from their desktop.
Our email now allows for 50 gigs of storage and we’ve eliminated the need for regular storage updates. We use a new spam filter (SpamLab) that sends each employee a daily email of held items, and the ability to preview in a safe environment. IT receives weekly reports stating who released which email, saving valuable time wasted on looking for lost emails. Moving to the SaaS model also gives us the flexibility to buy/drop licenses as our needs change. License management and compliance has become much easier, mitigating the risk of any Microsoft audit or fines.
Adopting Office 365 has improved collaboration across our company by web-based access to email and calendars, shared workspaces and stored documents. It’s brought a more efficient and responsive system to meet our evolving business needs.
About TBI's IT Department
The Information Technology (IT) Department manages the technology necessary to effectively and efficiently accomplish our mission to serve the partner community. This department oversees the complete technology infrastructure supporting TBI’s Chicago offices and remote locations. It provides technology services including telecommunications; LAN/WAN networking; e-mail and web access; operating system software and equipment support; application deployment and management; servers; and troubleshooting of all technology services through HelpDesk. Additionally, the IT team proactively manages the procurement of computing equipment, software, licenses and maintenance contracts. The department also participates in the research and deployment of new technologies.