4-page Case Study
Posted: 7/26/2012
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Nightside Test Engineering Firm Gains Email Efficiency with Move to the Cloud

After only a couple of hours onsite migrating user mailboxes, all employees were able to use their new mailboxes and reap the benefits they provide. It couldn’t have been an easier process.

Peter Brown, Managing Director, Nightside

Nightside is a test engineering firm that design and builds automation and test systems for a wide range of industries – during the product design process, in production, in the laboratory or in the field for its clients throughout New Zealand. The company was looking to upgrade its aging server and provide employees with more productive email capabilities, greater mobility, and high-performance collaboration tools.

When the company decided to move its email data to the cloud, it gained the space it needed to send and receive large emails, anywhere access to data, and an easy-to-use conferencing application.

Situation

Nightside had an older mail solution using Microsoft Outlook 2003 with a POP mail system, and that solution was limited in functionality for the company’s needs. The limited size of email inboxes created challenges for Nightside employees, who often discovered 15MB files stuck in transfer or received news from clients that the file never arrived.

Employees would also break up files into multiple emails to ensure delivery or set up FTP sites to send large files. Nightside had to increase mailbox sizes three times in an effort to curb the email issues.

Employees were able to access their work email remotely, but the process was time-intensive. “We had access to our email, but sending and receiving it on a smartphone was difficult,” says Peter Brown, IT Manager at Nightside. “Checking email meant going into a browser window, navigating to a webmail site, and then logging in. It would not work with the phones’ native email applications. Employees wanted faster and easier access to email to stay on top of projects.”

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* Everything was so simple to set up, and now we can keep a closer eye on our business and growth potential,” he says. The company expects to save about 15 percent on IT costs with Office 365. *

Peter Brown
Managing Director
Nightside

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Nightside opened a new office in Auckland, which expanded the company’s reach but added a new element to communication. Employees used Skype as a conferencing tool, but they found it limited in its capabilities. “Skype worked OK as a videoconferencing and IM tool, but it still meant opening another program to see if someone was available or to start a conference call. We needed a tool where everything was integrated to make it easier on everyone,” explains Brown.

As the company began looking at options to upgrade its server, it found that an on-site solution would not only be cost-prohibitive but would not solve its other issues in the process. Nightside turned to The I.T. Team, a Microsoft partner, for input on a cloud-based IT solution. The I.T. Team recommended Microsoft Office 365, an online service that unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with email, calendar, collaboration, and communication solutions.

Solution

Nightside was eager to try Office 365 because it provided familiar applications that worked seamlessly with its core testing software and training on the new service would be minimal. “We were already using Microsoft Outlook, so moving to the cloud-based service was a natural choice,” says Brown. “Our test engineering software development tools are already tightly integrated with Microsoft, and we wanted to continue our forward momentum.”

Andrew Beaumont, IT Engineer and Deployment Specialist with the I.T. Team, notes that the deployment went very smoothly. “Configuring desktops and devices to use their cloud mailboxes was seamless and worry-free. After only a couple of hours onsite migrating user mailboxes, all employees were able to use their new mailboxes and reap the benefits they provide. It couldn’t have been an easier process.”

The staff of four full-time and three part-time employees noticed the difference in email capabilities immediately. “We can send and receive email with the assurance that Microsoft will deliver our information. Employees enjoy having 25GB mailboxes and a larger attachment allowance, which eliminates the need to break up large files into several emails. Exchange Online saves time on the user’s end and on the IT end in managing backups,” says Brown.

Staying connected outside of the office is easier than ever, says Brown. “If we wanted to check our email previously, we had to open a laptop or dedicate some time to making it work on a smartphone. Now, we have push email on our smartphones, no matter what type of device we have,” says Brown. Nightside employees say Microsoft Exchange Online helps them stay on top of client email and makes them more accessible. “We’re known for our flexibility with down-to-the-wire projects, and now our availability is even more apparent to clients.”

Employees at the Christchurch and Auckland offices are able to communicate in new ways. They can see at a glance if an employee at a different site is available with the presence indicators offered by Microsoft Lync Online, a web-enabled conferencing application. “I use the video and conferencing tool quite a bit when I travel,” says Brown. “Staying connected to both offices while I’m on the road is easier than ever. I never miss a meeting, and employees know I’m available for questions without waiting for an email response.”

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* Employees enjoy having 25GB mailboxes and a larger attachment allowance, which eliminates the need to break up large files into several emails. Exchange Online saves time on the user’s end and on the IT end in managing backups. *

Peter Brown
Managing Director
Nightside

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Benefits

With Office 365, Nightside moved its email to the cloud, freeing up server space on site, trimming electricity costs to run additional servers, and eliminating the need for a costly upgrade. It also enabled greater mobility for its employees, who can now send and receive larger emails no matter where they are located. Lastly, conferencing tools help employees communicate via instant messaging and use videoconferencing to cut back on travel.

Email and server efficiency

“We have a lot of sensitive material and some of it takes up a lot of room. With Exchange Online, we have ample room to send and receive files,” says Brown.

Brown says Nightside was able to avoid hiring independent contractors to set up an on-site IT solution. “Not only did we save on contractor wages, but we gained back about half a day’s work on maintenance each month by moving to the cloud,” he says. “Not having Exchange in-house reduces the load required on our server and should extend the time we can run with the current server from 3 years to 5 years. With Office 365 we simply pay for what we use and pay as we go.”

Greater mobility

Exchange Online also provides Nightside employees with anywhere access to email with a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee. “We’re able to address client questions on the road, which greatly improves our response time and availability,” says Brown. “Recently, a client sent a signed contract for services in the early evening, but the signature was in the wrong place on the document and that made it invalid. I was able to identify this issue, notify the client, and have it corrected and resubmitted the same day. The benefit for us was having an immediate commitment to the project, and the benefit for the client was that we could start the project the next day. There’s no room for delays with high-priority projects.”

Improving collaboration

With Lync Online, employees can see at a glance whether a coworker is available for a conversation. Videoconferencing capabilities enable faster and more productive meetings because employees don’t have to travel to collaborate on projects. “Lync has been extremely useful to our staff,” says Brown. “Employees can IM someone at the other office and receive a quicker response than waiting for email or looking up a number to call. We even have the option of sharing the screen during a conference call, which ensures everyone is on the same page.”

Brown says Office 365 has changed the way his company does business. “Recently, we prepared a quote for a client in Christchurch. I gathered the information in Christchurch, sent it to an Auckland engineer to prepare a proposal and design for the project, then it was reviewed by the Christchurch staff and submitted over a few days, all through Office 365. This technology is reducing the time it takes to prepare proposals and increasing the velocity of our business,” says Brown.

Brown says he was drawn to Office 365 because of its flexible licensing packages that provide room to change as the company grows. “It’s seamless to add a new user, and the cost is very affordable to a company the size of Nightside,” says Brown.

Overall, Nightside is pleased with the move to the cloud, Brown says. “Everything was so simple to set up, and now we can keep a closer eye on our business and growth potential,” he says. The company expects to save about 15 percent on IT costs with Office 365. “We don’t have to worry about backups or babysit servers anymore. Now, we just focus on delivering solutions to clients,” says Brown.

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of our most trusted communications and collaboration products—Microsoft SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online—with the latest version of our Office desktop suite and companion web applications for businesses of all sizes.

Office 365 helps save time and money, and it frees up valued resources. Simple to use and easy to administer, it is financially backed by a service level agreement guaranteeing 99 percent reliability. Office 365 features robust security, IT-level phone support, geo-redundancy, disaster recovery, and the business-class privacy controls and standards that you expect from a world-class service provider.

For more information about Microsoft Office 365, go to:

www.office365.com

For more information about The I.T. Team products and services, visit the website at:

www.theitteam.co.nz

For more information about Nightside products and services, visit the website at:

www.nightside.co.nz

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 7 employees

Organization Profile

Nightside provides test engineering services to research and engineering firms. This includes software and production testing, measurement and data logging, and embedded prototyping services.


Business Situation

Nightside wanted a cost-effective solution to upgrade its servers and email system and enable employees to check email from mobile devices. Skype was used for conferencing, but it lacked transparency.


Solution

The company chose Office 365 because it offers large mailboxes, mobile access to email, and efficiency-boosting conferencing tools under a flexible licensing plan.


Benefits

  • Increased email efficiency
  • Enabled mobile data access
  • Saved 15% on IT costs


Software and Services
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Exchange Online
  • Lync Online

Vertical Industries
Professional Services

Country/Region
New Zealand

Business Need
Business Productivity

Languages
English

Partner(s)
the I.T. team

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