Years ago, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) made a strategic decision to move to a cloud-computing solution in an effort to more cost-effectively operate its radio and TV networks, which reach 187 million people. As part of that strategy,
the BBG adopted cloud-based Microsoft Office 365, resulting in high uptime and reduced risk, lower infrastructure costs, and enterprise-class capabilities normally found only in more expensive on-premises server solutions.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) supervises US government-supported global broadcasting networks. Its mission is to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. BBG broadcasts reach an audience of
187 million people in more than 100 countries. Its networks include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV
That vital work requires elaborate systems for generating, aggregating, and disseminating news content. Maintaining so many networks requires advanced technology, and the BBG concluded years ago that moving to cloud technologies as part of a series of strategic
IT initiatives would offer a cost-effective way to augment its IT infrastructure. “By virtue of the different markets that we serve, the BBG has to operate a huge and diverse portfolio of technologies,” explains André Mendes, Director, Office of Technology,
Services, and Innovation at the Broadcasting Board of Governors. “To do that, we are undergoing a substantial technology migration that has cloud computing as the central paradigm of what we are going to do from an information technology standpoint.”
Not only does the geographic diversity of the organization provide operational challenges, the very nature of its mission also places tremendous importance on using secure and reliable communication and collaboration tools. The BBG sought a solution that
would address these issues, in addition to the agency’s strategic cloud initiatives.
To meet these challenges, the BBG deployed Microsoft Office 365, a set of collaboration and productivity tools delivered as a cloud service that brings together Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online. Office 365 emphasizes
security, scalability, and easy migration to the cloud, which helps to reduce upfront server and other infrastructure costs.
||With Office 365, the Agency gives communications access to everyone who’s authorized and, at the same time, addresses issues of disaster recovery and business continuity.
| André Mendes
Director, Office of Technology, Services, and Innovation,
Broadcasting Board of Governors
“It is imperative that cloud-based versions of software deliver the same—if not better—features than those of traditional server products,” says Mendes, referring to increasing feature parity between Office 365 and its on-premises counterparts. When Microsoft
released Office 365 in 2011, the combination of the solution’s features and the cost and labor benefits of moving to Microsoft-managed cloud services quickly became apparent to the organization.
The migration from a series of legacy platforms to Office 365 was the subject of a very thorough review and planning process. After the six-month implementation plan was complete, a two-day migration converted 2,100 internal and external users to the cloud.
Five days after the move, the new tools were integrated, and users were functioning on the standardized Office 365 platform. In addition, BBG has become the first government agency to grant the Authority to Operate (ATO) for the Office 365 platform under the
Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). “We are very pleased with the result of the migration,” Mendes says.
By adopting Microsoft Office 365, BBG gains a reliable, cost-effective, enterprise-class solution to carry out its global mission.
The BBG was initially concerned about the migration from an on-premises system that had been around for many years, but those concerns were quickly allayed by employees’ first experiences with Office 365, its ease of use, and reliability. “With Office
365, the Agency gives communications access to everyone who’s authorized and, at the same time, addresses issues of disaster recovery and business continuity,” say Mendes.
Supports Global Collaboration
For users in the field and in studio settings, keeping communication channels open is vital to carrying out the organization’s mission. Information moves across the globe as journalists gather and disseminate news in real time. “Email is indispensable
for us because we operate all around the world,” says Walter Wisniewski, Editor at the Voice of America. “We communicate with our correspondents primarily by email.” While users in any business understand the importance of email, it takes on a critical dimension
when the messages might represent the sole voice of hope for a listener or viewer living beneath a repressive regime. “We receive all of our scripts via email,” adds Wisniewski. “It’s our lifeblood—what news runs on—so speed and reliability is important to
Offers Cost-Effective, Enterprise-Class ITCapabilities
By using Office 365, the BBG can offer its employees the tools they need to perform their important work. But, for Mendes, the mission is also very personal. “I first started consuming Voice of America on April 25, 1974 when we had a revolution in
my native country, Portugal,” he says. “I huddled around the radio with my family listening to news about what was happening inside our country because we could not trust the broadcasts on TV and radio from our own government. So, that started a long-term
love affair with the mission.”
With such an important mission, the move to the cloud was not taken lightly. “The interesting thing about our migration to Office 365 is that it brought to the table communication and collaboration capabilities that exist in many major corporations but not
here at the BBG, historically, because of the cost. I am very enthusiastic about what has happened so far, especially from a reliability standpoint, and also from the ease of the introduction of the technology," says Mendes.
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