2 page Case Study - Posted 7/25/2013
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Palm Oil Plantation Co. Uses Cloud Email to Contain Costs, Simplify IT, Expand Collaboration
Malaysia palm oil plantations company, Lembaga Kemajuan Perusahaan Pertanian (LKPP), wanted to keep a tight control on the costs of its troublesome on-premise email system. The company also wanted to make email easier to maintain and more suited
to remote workers. In 2013, LKPP transferred its email into the cloud, with Microsoft Office 365. Now, hardware costs have disappeared and the monthly cost of email costs is predictable and transparent. Office 365 email has proved easy to adopt and maintain:
staff like using it on smartphones, and now LKPP is using it as a platform for cloud-based telephony and document-sharing.
Lembaga Kemajuan Perusahaan Pertanian (LKPP) is a palm oil production-management company, headquartered in Kuantan. The company oversees 21 plantation estates in rural areas across Pahang State, as well as two fertilizer distribution centres and three palm
oil processing factories.
||Our email costs are much easier to manage now, because IT is an operational expense not a capital expense. We don’t pay for servers, or incur the cost of maintaining them.
| Khalid Saidin
Lembaga Kemajuan Perusahaan Pertanian.
To provide POP 3 email for 80 head-office staff and 230 remotely located estate and factory workers, LKPP maintained on-premise Linux email servers. This enabled staff to exchange commercial, human resources and production information between desktops, typically
using different versions of Microsoft Outlook.
By late 2012, LKPP wanted to upgrade its email service and storage capabilities. “We needed to improve reliability and reduce maintenance costs,” says Khalid Saidin, IT Technical, LKPP. “We sometimes suffered power outages, which meant we couldn’t send or
receive email. Remote staff also often used email as a way to store documents, but this storage started to cost a lot of money.”
Saidin’s Linux servers were also difficult to maintain. “We had limited Linux expertise on site, so we found updates difficult and time-consuming,” says Saidin. “Our email was becoming increasingly unstable, and sometimes emails just went missing.”
As Saidin looked for an alternative email system, he had to solve two main problems. First, whatever email system he chose had to be easy to deploy and subsequently maintain. This was a challenge because Linux server-maintenance skills were scarce in Kuantan.
Second, Saidin wanted better remote access for email.
“Our staff wanted the ability to send and receive email on their mobile devices, which include a broad mix of Android, iPhone, and Windows smartphones, as well as Android tablet computers,” he says. “However, we needed to choose an email platform that was
easily compatible with employees’ phones: they needed to be able to download and connect the relevant mobile apps themselves.”
In early 2013, Saidin attended a demonstration of the subscription service, Microsoft Office 365, which provides Exchange-based email to customers using servers hosted by Microsoft in the cloud.
“We chose Office 365 because it offers a secure, reliable email system that is easy to deploy,” says Saidin. “With Microsoft taking care of all patches, updates and security, we would be free of all server maintenance issues. Each user account also includes
25 gigabytes of free storage in the cloud. This would eliminate our mail storage costs.”
Saidin signed up to a flexible monthly email package with Office 365. “With Office 365 Exchange email, we didn’t have to deploy any software or purchase any servers, and our on-premise servers became redundant,” he says. “We could also scale the roll-out
to meet our budget and business needs.”
To help switch from Linux, LKPP engaged local independent software vendor, SRKK Sdn. Bhd. “We started by migrating 80 head office staff email addresses to Office 365,” says Phan Wai Yin, Solution Architect, SRKK. “It was easy and the entire process just
took one day.”
With cloud-based Exchange email, LKPP has a reliable, low-maintenance email system that is easily scalable and allows employees to access their email wherever they have mobile reception.
Transparent cost of ownership
The cost of providing email to employees is now clear and containable. “Our email costs are much easier to manage now because IT is an operational expense not a capital expense. We don’t pay for servers, or incur the cost of maintaining them,” says Saidin.
“We have stopped the cost of email storage from continually rising,” he adds. “Twenty-five gigabytes of complimentary storage is more than enough for each employee.”
Improved productivity for IT personnel
With their Exchange server maintained by Microsoft experts, LKPP can provide reliable email much more easily. “We don’t have availability issues any more, we don’t have to manage updates, and email is now 100 percent reliable,” says Saidin. “If we want to
provide more employees with accounts, it’s a simple process: we just create more domain names in the cloud.”
“We have also lowered business risk,” he adds. “If we do have a disaster with our on-premise servers, such as an extended power outage, then it won’t affect email. This means our business is much more resilient.”
Proven ease of use
Saidin has also noted the ease of integration with Android, iOS and Windows smartphones. Employees immediately started using shared calendar and contact features to work more productively.
“This made a big difference, because now they can send and receive email from almost anywhere,” he says. “With Exchange they can also access group contacts remotely, which helps connect many of the estate managers and staff.”
A platform for expanded services
With a flexible, cloud-based platform, LKPP is opting to deploy new communications. “We will be upgrading our plan to include 200 Microsoft Lync licences in the future,” says Saidin. “This will give us secure instant messaging and desktop voice calls. As
most of our calls are long-distance, this will generate significant savings.”
Reliable, cloud-based document sharing
“We are also deploying Microsoft SharePoint for easy report sharing,” adds Saidin. “This means that if an estate-based employee updates an excel spreadsheet, the manager in HQ can instantly see the updates. They can collaborate, and keep each other up-to-date
without having to email different versions backwards and forwards.”
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