Agheera, a tiny German logistics startup, had shipping giant DHL as its first client. The company saw how valuable Agheera’s real-time shipment tracking and surveillance services were and backed the startup in 2010. Agheera set its sights globally
and wanted to grow quickly without spending a bundle on IT at its Bonn headquarters.
The company sought out a set of cloud-based services that would easily integrate with its Windows Azure-based software application, Pulse, that is used to track shipments in real time. Agheera chose Microsoft
Office 365, which provides employees with anywhere access to emails on almost any mobile device, video conferencing and online meetings, and collaboration spaces.
Agheera, founded in August 2010, wanted to create a niche for itself in the logistics and shipping arenas. The Bonn, Germany-based company deploys lightweight devices within shipping containers and provides a real-time cloud-based tracking application for
each shipment by ground, sea, or air with location information and options to monitor freight condition and environmental data as well.
The company’s founders knew they wanted a cloud-based IT solution from the beginning. “Being a startup, every decision is critical,” says Hassan Aftabruyan, one of two managing directors at Agheera. “Using an on-site IT solution with a room full of servers
and the associated administrative and maintenance costs would have been too expensive for us.”
Affordability was key, notes Aftabruyan, but the company also needed a reliable solution that would adapt as the business grew. “We need to onboard employees quickly, but more importantly, we need to provide services around the clock to our customers. Reliability
was a primary concern for us,” says Christoph Keisers, Agheera’s other managing director.
Agheera was leaning toward a Microsoft solution, as it had already built its logistics tracking application, Pulse, using Windows Azure, an open platform for creating and deploying applications on a global scale. Employees were already using a hosted Microsoft
Exchange service to keep in contact with customers via email, and they shared files with Microsoft SharePoint and some public cloud applications, but easy mobile and overseas access was a challenge. In addition, employees used Skype for videoconferences, but
service was often unreliable and the need for collaboration tools grew more apparent.
||Office 365 is perfect for startups. We don’t have to think about internal infrastructure or IT maintenance. We can focus on growing our business and providing better services to our customers.
| Christoph Keisers
In its quest to be hardware-free and focus its energy on services, Agheera chose Microsoft Office 365, an online service that unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with email, calendaring, collaboration, and communication solutions. “It was absolutely
a natural step for us to choose Office 365,” says Keisers. “Our online tracking application was built with Windows Azure, and Office 365 provides us with everything we need with little IT support on site. We are located in a very modern building, but our only
IT infrastructure is a minimal LAN and wireless network and a small backup for desktop applications.”
Agheera directors were pleased with the flexibility of Office 365’s pay-as-you-go licensing, which enables the company to easily add users as the business grows. “Office 365 saves us a little money each month compared with our previous hosted solution, but
the true gains are obvious in the day-to-day business. We get a huge increase in value for a scalable service that provides excellent collaboration tools and new and better capabilities,” says Aftabruyan.
With Exchange Online, employees are able to access their email from anywhere and on almost any device. “If you have a web browser on your smartphone, you can access whatever you need from wherever you are. This makes it easy for employees to bring their
preferred mobile device, and we’ve seen that the applications perform reliably,” says Keisers. “One of our remote employees had a hardware failure, but he was able to pick up his own laptop, log in with Office 365, and continue to function.”
Keisers says employees were pleasantly surprised by what Lync Online had to offer. With presence indicators and instant messaging, remote employees are able to instantly connect with employees in Germany and conversations are more productive, he says. “Employees
picked up Lync very organically. They have discovered that they can make video or audio calls through their PCs, and they’re finding new ways to work more efficiently,” explains Keisers.
Aftabruyan notes that employees previously used Skype to conduct videoconferences, but it lacked integration with Microsoft Outlook and performance often suffered. “We’re using Lync to hold videoconferences with remote employees, which helps keep them connected
to the home office. And we’ve started videoconferencing with customers, too,” says Aftabruyan. “Lync helps us put a face to Agheera without the need to travel – and that puts money back in our pocket.”
Employees have embraced team spaces within SharePoint Online, in addition to using the application to share large files. “Now we have a light but valuable intranet and team spaces, where team members can explain projects and share insights with others. It
was easy to set up and it provides a quick summary of what one’s teammates are working on,” says Keisers. “With the added mobility of SharePoint Online, employees can access files from their smartphones and share with others even while they’re on the go.”
Office 365 provides Agheera with anywhere access to the communication and collaboration tools it wanted from the start. “We now have an environment that enables instant connectivity and promotes greater collaboration between employees—and with customers,”
When Agheera doubled the size of its staff in its first year, directors wanted an easy way to add users as it grows. “We needed an IT solution that was flexible to allow for growth yet be simple enough for our busy staff to implement,” says Aftabruyan. “It’s
not just about putting people into a workflow, but ensuring our service and support remains reliable as we grow.”
With Lync Online, mobile employees can use almost any device to access emails, message peers, and conduct online meetings. “Office 365 puts us in touch with customers and each other like no other tool has before,” says Keisers. “Round-the-clock connectivity
is key to what Agheera does. Having these cloud-based tools that we don’t have to maintain allows us to make our own services that much stronger.”
SharePoint Online provides Agheera with a centralized intranet that local and remote employees use to collaborate on projects. “Our only directive was to have employees use SharePoint Online as their home page so they can see what their peers are working
on each day. Everyone is on the same page with projects and files are easily shared among team members, with no versioning issues,” says Keisers.
Office 365 provides Agheera with the flexible and affordable communication and collaboration tools it sought from Day One. “Office 365 is perfect for startups. We don’t have to think about internal infrastructure or IT maintenance. We can focus on growing
our business and providing better services to our customers,” says Keisers.
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:
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