Founded in 1983, Blue Star Infotech Ltd (BSIL) is a part of the well-known Blue Star Group. It was maintaining multiple servers to support the Exchange Server 2007 deployment with the help of a three-member team. Even after investing time and
effort, it was unable to maintain 99.9 percent uptime. To avoid additional hardware, minimize administration costs, and increase uptime, BSIL decided to transition to Microsoft Office 365, the cloud-based service. With hosted services, the company saw improved
collaboration and communication across the globe. Simultaneously, quicker information sharing and high uptime improves business continuity, along with high productivity.
||By moving to Office 365, we considerably diminished administration and overhead costs. It also helps employees to communicate and work more efficiently across the company.
| Mitul Shah
Head ─ IT, Blue Star Infotech Ltd.
Blue Star Infotech Ltd (BSIL) is a technology consulting and services company, focused on delivering value-added and future-proofed solutions to its global customers. The company offers a broad spectrum of services ranging from Application Development &
Management, Product Engineering, Package Implementation and Testing to emerging areas such as Analytics/Business Intelligence, Mobility and Cloud Computing. Headquartered in Mumbai, India, the company has operations in U.S., United Kingdom, Europe, Japan,
Malaysia and Singapore. The annual revenue of the company for financial year 2012─13 was U.S.$34 million (INR 195 crore).
To support over 1100 employees, BSIL had created a complex messaging platform running four Exchange Server 2007 servers, one hub transport server, one client access server and two MX servers in a cluster. A three-member team worked round the clock to ensure
uptime, maintains hardware, and manages software upgrades.
Because the BSIL data center was located within a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), there were access restrictions at night. Therefore, if any issues arose at night, it was difficult for the team to reach the data center. Often, such emergencies impeded work
for other geographies. “Any breakdown or server issue led to downtime and disruption in services, which adversely affected employee productivity,” recalls Mitul Shah, Head – IT, BSIL.
In addition, the company was incurring high telephony costs to connect teams across the globe, as it did not have instant messaging solution in place. Knowledge sharing was supported on a rudimentary site built on an early version of Windows SharePoint Services.
It also built its intranet on an open source platform.
In October 2012, the team at BSIL started thinking about moving its messaging platform to the cloud to ensure 24x7uptime cost-effectively. “We believed a cloud-based messaging service would be ideal as it would free us from the management and maintenance
of servers,” explains Mitul Shah, Head – IT, Blue Star Infotech.
The company initially looked at a way to virtualize all its servers to Amazon Web Services. However, it realized that the management costs involved in this project would be very high.
It then looked at hosted services. BSIL zeroed in on Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365. After in-depth study and research of every specification and feature offered by each player, it decided to go with Microsoft Office 365 hosted services.
One of the important considerations in choosing Office 365 over Google Apps is the familiarity with the Exchange Server and Microsoft Office applications. The employees could thus continue using familiar Office tools, leaving little need for changed management.
Lync was another driving factor as the organization planned to use it extensively. Moreover, SharePoint Online as a part of the new licenses added incentive. Mitul Shah, Head – IT, BSIL states, “With Office 365, we expect stable and reliable email services
coupled with instant messaging services, and the ability to integrate our intranet and some internal sites.”
BSIL, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner started deploying Exchange in January 2013. The transition was seamless, with minimum teething issues. With comprehensive planning, the BSIL IT team was able to transition 1100 users to Exchange Online within four
Since 85 percent of its users were already on a quota, their emails were already backed up. For the bigger and more critical mailboxes, it completed migration after manually backing them up, using Symantec Backup Exec for the backup and restore of Exchange
Server before moving them on cloud.
BSIL gave the freedom to its users to either download mails to Microsoft Office Outlook or use Exchange Online on the web. Thus, from the employees’ perspective, the operational scenario did not change significantly.
After migration of mailboxes on cloud was complete, BSIL deployed Lync Online in May 2013. It is now using Lync extensively across the organization. The introduction of Lync has reduced telephone calls across various locations, as the employees can chat
(text/audio/video) on the move. The added advantage was Desktop, Application and Whiteboard sharing Lync on smart phones helps users to communicate on the move without accessing their laptops/desktops.
“We are currently waiting for SharePoint 2013 rollout,” says Mitul Shah, Head ─ IT, BSIL. “Since SharePoint 2013 promises significant improvements and new features, instead of spending time and energy in another migration, we thought it better to wait for
a new version.”
BSIL will then move its hybrid environment of WSS, Open Server/Linux-based intranet portal to SharePoint. The internal SharePoint team is currently working on preparing the framework for the new portal and estimating the time and effort required to migrate
to the online SharePoint portal. With the framework and preparations in full swing, it expects to completely transition a SharePoint 2013 based intranet as soon as the RTM (Release to Manufacturing) is available.
“By moving to Office 365, we considerably diminished administration and overhead costs. It also helps employees to communicate and work more efficiently across the company,” says Mitul Shah, Head – IT, BSIL.
Earlier BSIL had deployed a three-member team only for round-the-clock server administration. After deploying Office 365, it has freed one of its members for other productive tasks. “Team size, time, and effort put in by our internal team to manage and look
after in-house servers have gone down by 15-20 percent,” states Mitul Shah, Head – IT, BSIL.
Administering Exchange Online is very simple. It can be accessed on a web-based administration portal that allows the administrator to manage users and groups, roles and auditing, mail control, phone and voice from a single screen. “Online processes make
user mailbox and license management very simple and quick,” says Mitul Shah.
With 25 GB mailbox on Exchange Online, employees do not spend time to back-up and worry about their emails. Faster mail servers improve access significantly, as well as automatic updates on email, calendar and contacts across devices, ensuring higher productivity.
Lync Online is seeing excellent adoption amongst the employees, not just for instant messaging but also for voice calls. “The adoption is growing significantly. All projects are specifically asking for Lync access enabling for better collaboration among
the team members. The number of active Lync users has gone up to 700 as compared to just 45 at the start,” says Mitul Shah. “We use Lync for audio/video conferencing and desktop sharing to resolve issues instantaneously, saving a lot of productive time,” he
BSIL expects productivity to increase further after SharePoint Online is deployed.
Saves Costs by Five Percent
BSIL has reduced costs in several areas by migrating to Office 365. It need not worry about hardware breakdown, downtime, upgrades, renewals etc, as all are taken care of by Microsoft. ”We estimate that by transitioning to Office 365, we will annually save
around 5 percent,” comments Mitul Shah, Head ─ IT, BSIL.
All the users in the company are on Lync, improving collaboration and communication costs. ” With one-one, one-two, or one-three audio conferencing using Lync, we are saving costs on telephone lines by 5─10 percent,” continues Mitul Shah.
Ensures High Uptime
Since Microsoft manages the cloud, the company gets 99.99 percent uptime along with Disaster Recovery, which the company did not have earlier. For instance, if there is an issue with the Singapore data center, traffic automatically redirects to Hong Kong,
thus guaranteeing uptime.
At the same time, speed to access mails has increased. Earlier, users outside India faced some challenges due to restrictions at the data center. Limited bandwidth at the Mumbai data center restricted users in the U.S. and United Kingdom from having fast
access to the mailbox servers. Now the same set of users can quickly access emails.
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:
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:
For more information about Blue Star Infotech products and services, call (91) (22) (6695 6969) or visit the website at:www.bsil.com
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