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2-page Partner Case Study - Posted 9/2/2011
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IT Services Firm Creates New Opportunities with Cloud-Based PC Management

To reach more customers and develop new revenue opportunities, Softchoice wanted to deliver a PC management solution that smaller businesses could adopt without increasing infrastructure costs. Softchoice helped Robinson Engineering adopt Windows Intune, a cloud-based PC management service. With Windows Intune, Robinson has simplified its PC environment and Softchoice has expanded its business opportunities.

Business Needs
With 45 branch offices across the United States and Canada, Softchoice offers IT solutions and services to more than 15,000 customers in the banking, professional services, healthcare, and government sectors.

For its larger customers, Softchoice often deploys centralized on-premises PC-management and security solutions. It saw that many of its smaller customers would also benefit from centralized PC management but that most could not justify the investment in new infrastructure or the increased IT management burden.

“Smaller businesses often have only a couple of people maintaining the servers, the network, the desktops, everything,” says Luke Black, U.S. Microsoft Marketing Manager at Softchoice. “They need to simplify PC management, but they don’t have the resources to deploy, learn, and manage new infrastructure.”

Softchoice also knows that its customers face challenges that make simplified, centralized PC management even more important. For example, as mobile employees more often work while disconnected from company networks, companies find it more difficult to track which PCs have received security and software updates. “Many of my small to midsize customers were asking for an easier way to monitor their PCs and a better way to know that every computer gets the updates it needs,” says Sara Schmidt, Account Manager at Softchoice.

Softchoice knew that many of its smaller customers were ready to standardize their PC environments and needed better insight into their software and hardware inventories. The company wanted to reach more customers and develop new revenue opportunities by delivering a solution that smaller businesses could use to optimize PC environments without increasing their infrastructure costs.

By the end of 2010, Softchoice had begun to offer services supported by cloud technology—remote computing resources delivered as services over the Internet. In early 2011, Softchoice invited three of Schmidt’s customers—including Robinson Engineering, a civil engineering firm based in Chicago—to evaluate a beta version of Windows Intune, a cloud-based PC-management and security service.

* By offering Windows Intune, we can position Softchoice to meet a need in the small to midsize business space that hasn’t been addressed before. *

Sara Schmidt
Account Manager, Softchoice

Robinson Engineering had used server virtualization to shrink its IT environment, and it wanted to avoid installing or maintaining new infrastructure. “It was key for Robinson Engineering that Windows Intune is a cloud-based solution,” says Schmidt. “They loved the easy installation and the fact that they didn’t have to deploy any hardware.”

At Robinson, a two-person IT staff had struggled to support 100 PCs with separate monitoring, antivirus, update, and inventory solutions, which was time-consuming and expensive. But from a single web-based console in Windows Intune, the Robinson team could monitor and update its computers, inventory its PC assets, and help safeguard PCs from malicious software (malware) with features built on the same Microsoft Endpoint Protection Engine used by the Microsoft Forefront Protection Suite.

Approximately 30 Robinson employees use portable PCs to work remotely from project sites. With Windows Intune, Robinson could monitor its remote PCs and automatically distribute software and security updates even if the computers were not connected to its network—as long as employees used a standard Internet connection and a browser enabled with Microsoft Silverlight.

In April 2011, Robinson asked Softchoice to help it adopt Windows Intune to manage all of its 30 portable PCs and 20 desktop computers. When it implements its PC-refresh cycle, Robinson plans to use its option to upgrade all PCs managed with Windows Intune to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system.

By adding Windows Intune to its offerings, Softchoice has lowered sales barriers, simplified its customers’ PC environments, and expanded its business opportunities

  • Lower entry barriers. By replacing investment in new infrastructure with a monthly Windows Intune subscription fee, Softchoice can deliver centralized PC management to small and midsize companies that could not afford centralized PC management before.

    “By offering Windows Intune, we can position Softchoice to meet a need in the small to midsize business space that hasn’t been addressed before,” says Schmidt. “My customers want to learn more about it.”

  • Simplified PC environment. By adopting Windows Intune, Robinson Engineering saved at least U.S.$60,000 in software, hardware, and management costs. The Robinson IT team has reduced the time it spends on routine PC management by three hours a day. “Instead of always trying to keep up with fixing issues, we can get ahead of the curve and focus more attention on new initiatives,” says Jeff Gargas, IT Manager at Robinson Engineering.

    Because Robinson can reliably monitor and update its remote PCs, service requests are down and the IT team spends less time on individual requests. “When a computer became infected with malware, we usually had to spend a full day rebuilding the PC,” says Gargas. “Since we started using Windows Intune, we haven’t rebuilt a single computer. That saves us at least three to four days a month.”

  • New business opportunities. Softchoice earns an annuity on the Windows Intune subscriptions that it delivers, and by providing customers with more insight into their PC assets, Softchoice can accelerate decision cycles and expand sales opportunities. For example, by introducing customers to Windows Intune, Softchoice can create opportunities to sell other cloud-based services. “Our experience with Windows Intune influenced us to participate in a beta program for Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Lync 2010,” says Gargas.

“Delivering innovative solutions and helping our customers manage their environments is core to our business,” says Black.

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 1000 employees

Partner Profile

Based in Toronto, with 1,000 employees in 45 locations, Softchoice delivers a range of IT services to more than 15,000 small, midsize, enterprise, public-sector organizations across the United States and Canada.

Software and Services
Windows Intune

Vertical Industries
IT Services

Country / Region
  • Canada
  • United States

Business Needs
  • Cloud & Server Platform
  • Corporate Software Licensing
  • Support and Services

IT Issues
  • Identity, Security and Access Management
  • Asset Management
  • Cloud Services
  • Desktop, Device and Server Management
  • Software + Services