4-page Case Study
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Fruitways moves to the cloud
Fruitways is an integrated fruit business that specialises in growing, packing and marketing of apples and pears to selected retailers and wholesalers. The company delivers its products to customers all over the world, focusing on quality and excellent
Fruitways experienced increased IT platform integration challenges as a result of the various subsidiaries running largely independent IT systems. Most pressing was the challenge around easy sharing of company data between the subsidiaries and communicating
uniformly using a single e-mail system.
Fruitways engaged with Space Age Technologies, it’s preferred managed IT services provider, which recommended integrating the legacy disparate environment into a unified network, adopting Office 365 to address some of the communication challenges. After some
in-depth research, they agreed that migrating to Microsoft’s Office 365 hosted solution would help with providing much-needed unified communication capabilities, hosted online messaging and collaboration solutions.
The Fruitways group’s internal resources are divided into a number of geographically dispersed subsidiaries, namely marketing, packing and farming. Each of these business units has its own, dedicated management structure, and although fully integrated, operations
are managed in a decentralised way.
Previously, each business had its own independent IT server set-up – including e-mail services. This presented several challenges with inter-group communication, especially around e-mail and file sharing, with several workarounds being put in place to accommodate
basic collaboration needs.
When the group rebranded into a single entity, a third-party solution was needed to translate the various independent hosted e-mail domains into a single domain naming convention.
There were a number of frustrations that Fruitways experienced before Office 365 was introduced, including complexity and high cost in managing the fragmented groupware solution and the lack of collaboration between their separate IT solutions.
“The Exchange upgrade cycles were not only time-consuming and costly, but we also experienced increasing pressure and costs associated with storage,” says Hendré Claassen, Fruitways group IT manager.
“Power outages and unreliable communication at some of the sites negatively affected uptime of services and this caused staff to be without critical e-mail even if they managed to get an Internet connection as their primary e-mail server was down.”
This non-standard set-up was a logistical IT management nightmare and Fruitways made the decision to migrate to a new e-mail system and incorporate the independently configured IT systems into a shared IT infrastructure.
By the time Office 365 was available for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, Fruitways had decided to move its e-mail services to Office 365 Exchange Online.
“This solution came in holistically at a more attractive price point than what would have been possible by deploying it internally. This is especially relevant if factoring in future upgrade requirements if otherwise hosted on premise. Due to the inherent complexity
involved in the design and migration process, we chose Space Age to assist in the design and ultimate deployment of the solution,” says Claassen. “The implementation was completed in time, and on budget, showing that they have spent the necessary time on R&D
with the new offering from Microsoft.”
Office 365 Exchange Online now offers Fruitways employees across all the subsidiaries the ability to collaborate with each other easily and effectively. Claassen says: “Office 365 allowed Fruitways to integrate its legacy disparate Exchange environments and
deploy new unified communications and collaboration capability in a geographically dispersed environment.”
Fruitways found it difficult to do seemingly simple tasks, such as setting up a meeting, as there was no integrated view on calendars. “Typically you saw plenty of round-robin e-mails going around trying to get a suitable venue and time for a meeting,” says
After moving to Microsoft Office 365, Fruitways experienced a number of benefits, including simplified IT management and the ability to support employee productivity from practically anywhere.
“One of the biggest benefits can be summed up in one word: ‘flexibility’,” says Claassen. “We now have access to all the rich functionality that Exchange, SharePoint and Lync have to offer available within a few clicks of the mouse. It is perfectly scalable
to our requirements, and functionality can be turned on and off as needed.”
Fruitways no longer has to invest in costly, time-consuming upgrades. “We have the latest proven technology from Microsoft. For an SME, this is a huge benefit, as we can now provide services to our users that were in the past only available to larger corporates
with deep pockets.”
Claassen says the operational cost associated with maintenance is, for all practical purposes, eliminated. Moreover, “with the wave of BYOD and mobility on our doorstep, we will be able to fulfil the expectations of our users while maintaining control”.
Additional benefits include: users are able to better organise and communicate, leading to less time and energy being wasted on administrative tasks. “More time and less frustration will ultimately equate to clients that get quicker and better service.
“The uptime and redundancy provided on the O365 platform will lead to less time being lost with systems being down, having a positive effect on productivity. Time is being freed up within the IT department allowing us to focus on projects that add more value
to the business. Groupware is a ‘utility’ service these days, and in most cases, there is little to no value in providing the platform. The focus should now be on how you leverage the platform to streamline business processes instead of simply providing the
In addition to Exchange Online, Fruitways will soon be evaluating company-wide deployments of other services in the Office 365 suite. The IT department has already begun sharing files on Microsoft SharePoint Online. A full evaluation of how Lync will help to
further improve communication and collaboration across offices will be initiated soon.
“Thanks to their vision, Fruitways saw the advantages of moving e-mail and collaboration into the cloud – specifically to Office 365,” says Space Age solutions consultant, Johann Combrinck. “By centralising this component of their IT solution, they solved the
headache of a dispersed and disparate system. While they could certainly have built a similar solution on premise, Office 365 provided additional benefits that the company could switch on as needed, ultimately giving them a more agile solution, which will
scale as they need it to.”