As part of an overall transformation of its IT infrastructure, BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP (BCBG) wanted to update its messaging and productivity environments, but it needed to replace large capital purchases with a more manageable cost model. After evaluating
Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365, BCBG chose Office 365 to build a more productive collaboration environment, lower its IT management burden, and develop an affordable IT cost structure.
BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP (BCBG) offers premier fashion brands for women at more than 13,500 points of sale systems and in more than 1,200 stores in 45 countries. BCBG has 10,000 employees worldwide and is headquartered in Vernon, California.
The IT department at BCBG manages approximately 1,500 PCs and email accounts distributed throughout the company’s corporate offices, five distribution centers in the Los Angeles area, and showrooms in Los Angeles and New York. The team also manages email
for 600 stores in North America. Most employees used Microsoft Office 2003 productivity software, and the IT team managed the messaging environment with Microsoft Exchange Server 2003.
The outdated email and productivity environments presented challenges for employees and the IT team. For example, limited email storage made it difficult for users to send or receive photos and other large attachments, which generated high numbers of IT
service requests, and employees in the finance department and in warehousing wanted to use updated capabilities in Microsoft Excel 2010 spreadsheet software. But BCBG did not have the capital or staff resources to invest in new on-premises infrastructures.
As part of an overall transformation of its IT infrastructure, BCBG wanted to update its messaging and productivity environments but replace large capital purchases with a monthly cost model. “We are not a technology company and don’t want to invest a lot
of capital in IT,” says Kent Fuller, Director of IT Infrastructure Services at BCBG. “We saw cloud computing as a good way to spread costs, pay for what we use as we need it, and make email-infrastructure management somebody else’s responsibility.”
In September 2011, BCBG began evaluating two solutions based on cloud technology—software delivered as online services. The company compared the Google Apps web service with Microsoft Office 365, a subscription-based offering from Microsoft cloud services,
which includes Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Lync Online, and Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010.
||With Office 365, we can build a more effective, more comprehensive collaboration environment than we could have with Google Apps.
| Kent Fuller
Director of IT Infrastructure Services, BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP
The CIO at BCBG and approximately 10 IT employees tested Google Apps, comparing the functionality with the Microsoft Office suite for six weeks, while four IT employees used Office 365. The company found that Google Apps did not provide enough of the capabilities
its employees had come to rely on in the Microsoft Outlook messaging and collaboration client and other Microsoft Office programs. “We thought that most of our users could get by with Google Apps,” says Fuller. “But we found that the capabilities in Google
were adequate for less than 25 percent of our employees. With Office 365, we had the flexibility to pay for minimal subscriptions for some employees and still provide the full power of Microsoft Office to people who need it.”
From the employee perspective, the IT team at BCBG was concerned that the unfamiliar Google interface would create a training and adoption challenge. “We needed something our employees could adopt now with minimum disruption to day-to-day business,” says
Fuller. “We can use Office 365 to deliver an enterprise-level solution that is familiar and easy to use.”
In June 2012, BCBG worked with a member of the Microsoft Partner Network to adopt Office 365 subscriptions with Exchange Online and Office Professional Plus 2010. Fuller anticipates adopting Office 365 department by department until the company’s entire
messaging and productivity environment is managed with Office 365.
BCBG chose Office 365 over Google Apps to build a more productive collaboration environment and lower its IT management burden while developing a manageable and affordable IT cost structure.
With an updated, advanced messaging and productivity environment, BCBG employees can send and receive email messages faster; have the right tools to produce better documents, spreadsheets, and presentations; and can collaborate more effectively with
colleagues, customers, suppliers, and other partners. The company is also considering using Lync Online to replace its private-branch exchange phone system with an online collaboration system that includes voice, instant messaging, presence, web conferencing,
and point-to-point video.
“With Office 365, we can build a more effective, more comprehensive collaboration environment than we could have with Google Apps,” says Fuller.
Reduced IT Burden
BCBG has redirected the burden of managing its messaging and collaboration environment, which lowers management costs and frees IT resources to work on important business projects. With 25 gigabytes of email storage, users can manage large attachments
and maintain their own Outlook folders without relying on IT assistance. With a familiar interface and credits for online training materials included with subscriptions, BCBG employees can easily adopt Office 365.
“We have a lot of infrastructure transformation going on, and Google would have introduced new challenges,” says Fuller. “With Office 365 I can customize a solution to meet my needs now, and open the door for more movement to the cloud.”
Manageable Cost Structure
By adopting Office 365, BCBG can add or delete subscriptions as needed and pay for what it uses on a monthly basis, without a large capital investment. The company won’t have to support separate software for web conferencing or its almost 600 BlackBerry
mobile devices, which will reduce its licensing and IT management costs. It can provide Office 2010 to all its information employees, spread the costs over three years, and use Microsoft Software Assurance to upgrade to new versions as they are released.
“We can use Office 365 to build a roadmap to long-term cost savings instead of paying up to [US]$300,000 in up-front expenses,” says Fuller.
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