4-page Case Study
Posted: 3/28/2013
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The Herjavec Group Fast-Growing IT System Integrator Keeps Focus on Business with Cloud-Based Tools

The Herjavec Group (THG) has become one of Canada’s most successful technology companies, thanks to its forward-looking vision and the support of Canada’s largest team of certified security engineers. After its latest acquisition, THG realized that its on-premise email system had reached its limits. Rather than upgrading the hardware and adding a full-time staff member to manage the system, the group decided to stick to what it does best—and move the rest to the cloud.

So, what did the company that specializes in IT security select for secure, cloud-based productivity and collaboration? The group chose Microsoft Office 365 over Google Apps for its instant scalability and familiar features. Now, the company can ensure that employees always have quick, easy access to the tools they need—no matter where THG goes next.

Situation

In business, it’s often grow, or die. For 10 years, The Herjavec Group (THG) has achieved diversified growth while keeping its focus on what makes the company unique and profitable— enabling it’s highly-skilled and certified staff to provide world-class internet security and network acceleration services.

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* We would rather invest our time and money in employees who can generate revenue, rather than manage our internal IT. Office 365 helps us do that. *

Sean Higgins
CTO and Co-Founder The Herjavec Group

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THG was founded in 2003 by CEO Robert Herjavec, CTO Sean Higgins, and Senior VP of Sales George Frempong. The firm set its sights on internet security, focusing on CheckPoint firewall and anti-spam technology with early successes, including replacement of their initial business partners, opening of branch offices, and acquisition of related businesses, THG has made regular appearances on various lists of the fastest growing and highly recognized companies in Canada. Today, THG has five offices, including its headquarters in Toronto and roughly 150 employees and over $120m in revenue.

While THG’s most recent acquisition was a success, it added 44 new employees, straining some of THG’s internal IT resources. “We were really overtaxing our systems, especially our on-premise Exchange server,” says Higgins. The group decided it would either have to upgrade its Exchange infrastructure, an estimated $100,000 investment, and hire a full-time specialist to run it, or move email to the cloud.

The email system wasn’t the only resource that was overwhelmed. The group’s two-person IT department also felt the strain. “We pull in our engineering staff to help run our IT, when they have time available,” says Higgins. “But we try to run as lean as possible when it comes to non-revenue-generating employees.” Upgrading its on-premise email server would not only be costly; it would also require adding another person to the company’s IT staff.

While a cloud-based solution made the most business sense, THG didn’t want to lose valuable hours to training employees on a new platform. In the spirit of keeping engineers focused on work, and not on a transition to the cloud, the group began looking for a solution that required as little training as possible to get employees up and running.

Solution

From the beginning, THG focused on two cloud-based solutions: Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365, an online service which unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with email, calendaring, collaboration, and communication solutions. At first, THG liked Google’s low-priced subscription. “But when we looked at how our company operates, we realized that we are a very Microsoft-centered organization,” says Higgins.

Naturally, Office 365 would give THG employees access to Microsoft Outlook, their calendars, and contacts wherever they had Internet access—no VPN required. It also includes Microsoft SharePoint Online for file sharing and Microsoft Lync Online for instant messaging, desktop sharing, and virtual conferencing. Even better, the scalable platform makes it easy to add new users, and is always current with the latest versions of Microsoft Exchange, Outlook, SharePoint, Lync, and Office Web Apps. “Being an IT shop, we try to keep thing as up to date as possible,” says Higgins.

As the company grows and new users are added, THG will avoid the cost of upgrades and additional staff to manage an on-premise server. “It was smarter for us to spend our money on a cloud service that’s maintained by Microsoft, so we can just add or remove users rather than hire an employee to run the environment,” says Higgins. “With Office 365, as you grow, you pay Microsoft a little more money—and they take care of you in the cloud.”

Not only will THG avoid the cost of an internal IT resource, but all employees will save time by using a platform they’re already familiar with. “If we had gone with Google, people would have had to learn a different way to share documents. And we didn’t want to go down that road,” says Higgins.

Benefits

THG started moving employees to Office 365 in April 2012. From the user’s point of view, Higgins says the transition was seamless. “It was beautiful. You could move a user to the cloud, and they’d get a notice to restart Outlook—and that’s it.”

Instant Scalability

Today, THG employees love the simplicity of getting to their email, file sharing, and conferencing tools from their laptops or company-issued BlackBerries, no matter where they are. But it’s the ease of adding new users that will help THG manage future acquisitions and growth. “We don’t know how big the next company we buy will be. If it’s 50 people, that’s a third of our size today,” says Higgins.

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* With Office 365, as you grow, you pay Microsoft a little more money—and they take care of you in the cloud *

Sean Higgins
CTO and Co-Founder The Herjavec Group

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Less IT Support Required

The key to THG’s success is knowing where to invest its expertise. “Our engineers are billable. We don’t have in-house expertise on Exchange because it doesn’t add to our bottom line as an IT security company,” says Higgins. “We would rather invest our time and money in employees who generate revenue, rather than manage our internal IT. Office 365 helps us do that.”

Familiar, Ready-to-Use Tools

THG appreciated that current employees were already familiar with the Office environment. But chances are that new employees will also be able to pick up Office 365 right away, with no additional training. Higgins challenges businesses who are exploring cloud-based solutions to ask themselves how their employees work today. “Are you a Microsoft-centered shop? Most companies are,” he says. “If you’re thinking about Google from a cost perspective, how much will it cost you to train employees how to use it?”

With email in place, THG is now migrating shared files from an internal SharePoint server to SharePoint Online. The company is also looking forward to integrating Office 365 with its Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. With all this, Higgins feels more prepared for the company’s next move. “So, tomorrow, if we go out and buy another 44-person company? No problem,” he says.

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

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:

www.microsoft.com

For more information about The Herjavec Group products and services, visit the website at:

www.herjavecgroup.com

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




Organization Profile

The Herjavec Group (THG) is one of Canada’s fastest-growing technology companies and its largest IT security provider. THG delivers security, storage, and network acceleration services.


Business Situation

Rapid growth has boosted revenue, but THG’s internal resources were strained. To avoid costly alternatives, THG decided to move email, file sharing, and productivity tools to the cloud.


Solution

Microsoft Office 365 brought its familiar email and file sharing platform to THG’s workforce, eliminating the need for hardware upgrades, on-premise management, and time-consuming training.


Benefits

  • Avoids $100K upgrade IT hires
  • Scales easily to add new users
  • Requires little administration


Software and Services
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus

Vertical Industries
IT Services

Country/Region
Canada

Business Need
Business Productivity

IT Issue
Hosted Messaging and Collaboration

Languages
English

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