The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority shared its Microsoft IT infrastructure with the city of Albuquerque. To acquire an autonomous environment without a large capital expenditure, it chose Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based
collaboration and real-time communications tools, saving US$620,000 in on-premises hardware and software. The utility’s two field inspectors expect to save 1,000 hours a year sending data back to the office.
The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (Water Authority) is responsible for a reliable, high-quality, affordable and sustainable water supply and wastewater collection treatments. The Water Authority was part of the city of Albuquerque,
however in 2005 the State of New Mexico granted it with the statutory powers to function autonomously. The Water Authority shared the city’s Microsoft-based IT infrastructure, but it wanted more autonomy over IT decisions so it could respond more readily to
the utility’s business needs and strategic goals.
The Water Authority upgraded its PCs to the Windows 7 operating system and Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 to provide staff with the latest business productivity desktop environment. “We wanted a corresponding upgrade to the latest communication
and collaboration solutions from Microsoft, but the city had no immediate plans to upgrade its Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, or Office Communications Server environments,” says Chris Framel, Chief Information Officer at the Water Authority.
The utility wanted up-to-date communication and collaboration services to boost productively in and out of the office. Of the 625 employees at the Water Authority, 33 percent work in the field and they relied on laptops and varying software to perform their
work. Project managers wanted to access capital project data while inspecting new field installations and field inspectors needed a faster way to communicate their findings to the head office. “To accomplish these goals, we needed a cost-effective way to acquire
our own Microsoft environment,” says Framel.
The Water Authority found the perfect solution in Microsoft Office 365. It was attracted by the connected, online suite of Microsoft Office applications that provide all the business communications and collaboration tools required by Water Authority
||We used Office 365 to make a strategic transition to a more autonomous Microsoft environment to better support the utility’s goals, acquiring the latest productivity tools from Microsoft with very little work.
Chief Information Officer, Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority
With a monthly, per-user subscription, the Water Authority gained instant access to the latest versions of Microsoft business productivity software: real-time communications using Microsoft Lync Online, which offers instant messaging and screen sharing through
its client software, Microsoft Lync 2010; an enterprise-level collaboration framework with Office 365 intranet sites powered by Microsoft SharePoint Online; and the Microsoft Exchange Online cloud-based email and calendaring service with a significantly improved
web-based mail client, Outlook Web App. And with the Microsoft Lync 2010 Attendee conferencing client, Water Authority staff can invite attendees to online meetings, even if they do not have Lync 2010 installed on their computers.
“We used Office 365 to transition to a more autonomous Microsoft environment to better support the utility’s goals, acquiring the latest productivity tools from Microsoft with very little work,” says Framel. “This was our first move into cloud computing;
however, I trust that with Microsoft managing the solutions, we’ll have better reliability and uptime than we could maintain with our current budget.”
The Water Authority engaged Microsoft Services Premier Support to help transition employees from Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 to the Exchange Online environment and from Windows SharePoint Services to SharePoint Online. “Premier Support provided insight
into how to convert sites over to SharePoint Online and they were on hand with support when we went live with Exchange Online in January 2012,” says Framel.
With Microsoft Office 365, the Water Authority acquired a Microsoft-based IT foundation that it can tailor to meet its needs, and employees gained the latest versions of familiar business productivity tools to boost productivity.
Avoided $620,000 in Costs in First Year
The Water Authority subscribed to Office 365 to avoid the IT costs of acquiring an on-premises infrastructure, while still accomplishing its strategic goals.
“We saved approximately [US]$350,000 on infrastructure,” says Framel. “We would have required at least two full-time equivalent staffers to administer the environment at a cost of $250,000 a year. We are also saving $20,000 a year in software licenses by
retiring our help-desk solution.”
Today, IT staffers can avoid manual tasks to focus on the business. Thanks to the redundant network architecture at dispersed Microsoft data centers, Framel gains peace of mind. “With Office 365, I don’t have to worry about managers calling me on a
Saturday afternoon to say the email system is down,” says Framel. “We can retire our remote help-desk solution and use Lync Online to share desktops and provide remote IT support so we’ll have one fewer software solution to manage.”
Streamlined Project Management
The Water Authority is using Office 365 intranet sites powered by SharePoint Online to improve collaboration for capital projects. “We designed a capital project template with list forms and timelines and documents for project managers, inspectors,
and vendors,” says Framel.
Saved 1,000 Hours in Field Inspections
Per day, it took the Water Authority’s two inspectors approximately four hours to input data and pictures from their many field inspections to a laptop in each truck and upload it through a virtual private network session. “Now they carry iPads and
use SharePlus, an iPad app based on SharePoint Online, to complete field inspections on foot,” says Framel. “They hit the submit button and data is instantly available on our SharePoint Online site for anyone in the office to view. We expect they’ll be saving
1,000 hours a year.”
By using Lync Online for virtual steering committee and other meetings, the Water Authority expects to reduce travel costs. Framel will set up federation to communicate with vendors who have Lync Server technology, or use the Lync Attendee clients
for those that need meeting access. “We have only just begun to see reap all the benefits of Office 365!” says Framel.
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