Pear Workplace Solutions, a provider of office furniture, wanted to reduce its on-site IT infrastructure and implement a cost-effective productivity solution. Working with Solve IT, the company adopted Microsoft Office 365, a subscription-based
cloud service that unites familiar Microsoft Office applications. The company uses Office 365 to help reduce IT costs, increase scalability, improve productivity, and enhance collaboration.
Based in Denver, Colorado, Pear Workplace Solutions is a service provider that delivers office furniture solutions for a variety of customers. It is the exclusive distributor in Colorado for Haworth, one of the largest manufacturers of office furniture
in the world. “We used to have conversations with customers about chairs, desks, and panels,” says John Robbins, President and CEO of Pear Workplace Solutions, who bought the company in 2002. “Now it’s a conversation about the workplace and how furniture can
enhance productivity, collaboration, and work processes.”
Pear Workplace Solutions, which has a number of employees who work remotely, has an IT environment that includes 30 PCs plus 20 tablets and smartphones that access the corporate network. It maintained six servers onsite, which included a dedicated server
running Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and a third-party instant messaging solution, and a virtual server running Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. It used third-party tools to give users remote access to email and to protect against malicious software (malware).
The company is expanding—it grew by 50 percent in 2011—and it wanted a low-maintenance, scalable, and cost-effective productivity and collaboration solution. The licensing for its Exchange Server solution was about to expire. “When we first considered purchasing
new hardware, the cloud services discussion started,” says Robbins. “My questions were ‘Is the cloud real?’ and ‘Does the cloud work?’ Once I realized the cloud was real, the whole game for me was to start eliminating servers. If I could go completely to the
cloud, I would.”
In April 2011, Garrett Brucker, President and Owner of Solve IT, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network and acting CIO for Pear Workplace Solutions, proposed that Robbins adopt Microsoft Office 365. Office 365 brings together Microsoft Office, SharePoint
Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online—familiar Microsoft Office collaboration and productivity tools—delivered as a cloud service and available by subscription. “With Microsoft behind Office 365, I felt the solution had a lot of credibility,” says Robbins.
“It would provide my employees with a range of integrated tools.”
||Microsoft Office 365 has delivered on its inherent promises. That’s why we deployed it, and it just works.
| John Robbins
President and CEO, Pear Workplace Solution
Solve IT implemented Exchange Online during one weekend in September 2011. A week later it deployed Lync Online. The next month, it implemented SharePoint Online. To provide employees with single sign-on access to cloud services by using their corporate credentials,
Solve IT used Active Directory Federation Services to connect the company’s domain to Office 365 cloud services. “Workers haven’t even noticed the single sign-on,” says Robbins. “It’s accepted as the standard for how it should work.”
By using Exchange Online, Pear Workplace Solution employees can send email messages with 25-megabyte attachments, which is important because the company sends customers large, graphics-rich documents. The company can store 25 gigabytes of email messages per
user, and Exchange Online also features built-in protection against malware. “Office 365 email has been highly secure,” says Robbins. “I know Microsoft is doing its job on that front.”
To help streamline knowledge sharing, Solve IT migrated the content from the company’s existing SharePoint sites to SharePoint Online. In addition, Pear Workplace Solutions uses the instant-messaging and presence features in Lync Online to enhance communications
and collaboration among its staff members.
Robbins was concerned that sending and receiving data from the cloud would cause delays, but connectivity has proved to be fast and high quality. Employees also required no training to use the solution. “The deployment was invisible,” says Robbins. “It’s unlikely
that our employees even know whether we’re using cloud services or an on-site server.”
By adopting Office 365, Pear Workplace Solutions reduces costs, adds scalability, enhances productivity, and improves collaboration. “Microsoft Office 365 has delivered on its inherent promises,” says Robbins. “That’s why we deployed it, and it just works.”
Reduces IT Costs
For a small business like Pear Workplace Solutions, it’s a big advantage to avoid large cash outlays for servers and software. The company now has only three servers and has avoided US$8,000 in hardware costs. During its first year of using Office
365, the company also eliminated at least $1,500 a month in costs for support, endpoint protection software, and instant-messaging software. “With Office 365, a monthly charge shows up on my credit card bill,” says Robbins. “It’s much easier to forecast my
With Office 365, Pear Workplace Solutions can add or remove users as needed, and updates, upgrades, and warranties are managed automatically. “Office 365 is scalable,” says Robbins. “That flexibility is important because we are growing.”
Remote employees only need an Internet connection to access Office 365, which is critical for a service business. The company used to experience email outages—a few hours at a time—with its on-site server, but with the 99.9 percent guaranteed uptime
of Exchange Online, that’s a thing of the past. “Office 365 makes Pear Workplace Solutions a more productive work environment,” says Robbins. “The solution’s additional enhancements—for example, single sign-on and simplified email management—are just added
Pear Workplace Solutions employees can take advantage of integrated communications and collaboration tools, including presence and instant messaging. “We can now have richer conversations with our customers about collaboration,” says Robbins. “With
Office 365 installed, I intend to create a showroom to demonstrate the solution to customers. We work with furniture—helping people collaborate in their workspaces—but the way that this technology can help people collaborate ties it all together.”
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