ASPEQ Limited wanted to reduce its IT management burden and focus on delivering solutions for its customers. But when the company adopted Google Apps, its messaging environment suffered from decreased performance and functionality. By migrating to Exchange Online—one of the Online Services from Microsoft—ASPEQ restored the email functions that its employees need, while enhancing its business performance.
Originally founded to assess pilots, air crews, and engineers in the aviation industry for licenses and other certifications, ASPEQ Limited delivers high-stakes assessments to help organizations test personnel for positions that require a high level of skill and responsibility. As the New Zealand–based firm has grown, it has expanded into new industries and regions, with operations in Australia and Singapore, and a planned expansion in the United Kingdom.
ASPEQ develops examinations and custom technology solutions used to manage assessment processes for agencies and businesses. As the company expands, it needs the capacity to serve new customers, so ASPEQ made a strategic decision to switch from on-premises IT solutions to managed services, such as cloud computing—the hosting of scalable web applications and online services through an off-site data center.
“We wanted to avoid the cost and trouble of technology custodianship,” says Andrew Jamieson, Acting Chief Information Officer at ASPEQ Limited. “What we needed was to focus on our core business and achieve the service levels that our customers require.”
To develop assessments, ASPEQ employees rely heavily on email to collaborate with content experts. The company used Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 email messaging and collaboration software to manage its email environment and support the Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 messaging and collaboration client, a system that was ready for an upgrade.
In 2009, ASPEQ launched its first exploration into cloud computing by adopting Gmail, a component of the Google Apps productivity suite. Employees expected that it would replace Office Outlook functions, but, the migration reduced email performance and resulted in the loss of functionalities. For example, many ASPEQ employees use multiple email accounts with shared folders, but employees could no longer use shared Outlook folders, and it often took too long to process email messages. The situation affected productivity and caused some user resentment.
“The problems were threatening operational efficiency and creating staff issues,” says Jamieson. “Our employees complained of lost productivity and major process interruptions almost from day one. It was a significant problem that had to be dealt with.”
ASPEQ still wanted the reduced management burden associated with cloud computing. However, the company had to provide its employees with the email tools they had come to expect, and it needed a trusted, stable messaging environment to help support continued growth.Solution
In January 2010, ASPEQ began working with Provoke, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, to evaluate Microsoft Exchange Online, a component of the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, a collection of messaging and collaboration services offered through Microsoft Online Services.
||Migrating to a cloud-based solution and departing from a familiar user experience was too much of a chasm to jump at once. But by using Exchange Online, we could address those issues.
Acting CIO, ASPEQ Limited
“Migrating to a cloud-based solution and departing from a familiar user experience was too much of a chasm to jump at once,” says Jamieson. “But by using Exchange Online, we could address those issues.”
ASPEQ migrated its email environment to Exchange Online in March 2010, and the company upgraded its computers with Microsoft Office 2007 and Office 2010 productivity software. Because Exchange Online is designed to operate seamlessly with Office Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010, ASPEQ could deliver the familiar email experience that its employees wanted, while providing enhanced features like Conversation View in Outlook 2010, which employees can use to view all the messages in a conversation thread as a single item.
“Our email environment now works much better,” says Jamieson, “and the migration went very smoothly. Provoke supported us from start to finish, and Microsoft was always available, ready, and responsive.”Benefits
By adopting Exchange Online, ASPEQ has achieved the benefits it anticipated from the first decision to explore cloud-based options—reducing its IT management burden while enhancing its infrastructure and improving business performance.
Enhanced Business Focus
Because Exchange Online is hosted and managed offsite, ASPEQ avoids a lot of routine IT management and can focus on developing solutions for its customers. “If half of our staff is busy maintaining our technology, we can’t do the development that we want,” says Jamieson. “By using Exchange Online, we can spend more time writing applications and producing solutions for our customers because we don’t have to worry about managing email.”
Trusted, High-Performance Environment
According to Jamieson, an important benefit for ASPEQ is having a highly stable messaging environment that the company can trust as it moves forward. “This system performs as well as when we operated Exchange Server on-premises, and it is more reliable,” he says. “We have not had an outage since we deployed Exchange Online. And because we have to assure our customers a level of content security, we were impressed with the security certifications Microsoft Online Services has earned.”
Another important benefit has been placating a staff alienated by its first experience with cloud-based email messaging. By restoring and enhancing the functionality that employees had come to expect from their email system, ASPEQ helps to motivate and equip its staff for optimal business performance.
“The larger we grow, the more important email becomes,” says Jamieson. “It’s our employees’ primary communications mode, and they simply can’t provide the level of service that we want to offer if they have reservations about their email.”
For more information about other Microsoft customer successes, please visit: