To increase its cloud-based service offerings, acocon chose Windows Intune, a cloud-based PC management solution from Microsoft. Without investing in physical infrastructure, acocon can grow managed service revenue and improve endpoint protection and support for customers. It plans to develop a line of business that caters to small companies. By managing multiple customers through a single console acocon expects to reduce the cost of doing business.
acocon differentiates itself by providing a variety of IT services for medium and large businesses in Germany. It has a thriving infrastructure hosting business and wanted to capitalize on the growing acceptance of hosted and cloud-based services in Germany by offering a cloud-based service to help its customers better manage computers being used by mobile employees. acocon had been talking to customers about the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, and it began thinking about a cloud-based PC management solution to augment its managed service revenue.
“We saw the difficulty our customers had managing laptops used by mobile employees,” says Nico Luedemann, Senior Executive Manager, Systems & Services at acocon. “I’d estimate that approximately 80 percent of our customers have trouble managing their mobile devices.”
One such customer is Neotechnik. It provides mechanical servicing for Linde Material Handling forklift trucks, and 90 of its 150 employees are mobile technicians who carry portable computers running diagnostic software to service the trucks.
||One hundred percent of our customers are interested in upgrading to Windows 7. This is a perfect opportunity to talk to them about Windows Intune.
Senior Executive Manager, Systems & Services, acocon
“If a mechanic’s laptop isn’t working, then his customer service is compromised,” says Stephan Kuhlke, Chief Information Officer at Neotechnik. “To avoid computer problems for field technicians, we send them the latest updates loaded onto USB flash drives, but we couldn’t be sure if they actually uploaded the updates. And because it was difficult to track software inventories, we wasted time on support calls figuring out what was on the computer.”
Neotechnik wanted greater visibility into hardware and software inventories to remain compliant with licensing and to simplify remote support. It also wanted an easy way to help ensure endpoint protection.
“acocon needed a way to help small companies like Neotechnick manage these issues, without having to invest in additional physical infrastructure or IT staff training,” says Luedemann. “So we began thinking about offering a new, cloud-based desktop management service.” Solution
In June 2010, acocon heard about Windows Intune, a cloud-based solution that delivers comprehensive desktop management, Microsoft software update management, endpoint protection, remote assistance, software inventory tracking, and the option to upgrade to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system. To deliver Windows Intune management services, acocon IT professionals use the Windows Intune web-based administration console. All that is needed is an Internet connection, the Windows Intune client software installed on each PC, and a Microsoft Silverlight-enabled browser.
“Windows Intune offers a cloud-based service for management and security that’s easy for us and easy for our customers,” says Luedemann. “We can use the tool to fill a gap in our managed services without additional infrastructure or training. The customer can easily initiate a remote assistance request from the client software on the PC. Then our technicians can remote into the PC to troubleshoot the issue.”
acocon believes the growing importance of asset management and the drive among customers to upgrade to Windows 7 will help it sell subscriptions for Windows Intune. “Asset management is a priority because businesses are under financial pressure to pare down software inventories and to eliminate downtime caused by viruses,” says Luedemann. “One hundred percent of our customers are interested in upgrading to Windows 7. This is a perfect opportunity to talk to them about Windows Intune.”
In January 2011, acocon introduced Windows Intune to Neotechnik. “acocon was helping us deploy Windows 7 globally, so when they showed us Windows Intune with the licensing for Windows 7 Enterprise included, we were interested,” says Kuhlke.
Neotechnik plans to deploy Windows Intune globally, in conjunction with Windows 7. Then it can retire third-party antivirus and remote assistance software, saving €2,500 (U.S.$3,500) annually in licensing costs. Benefits
acocon expects that Windows Intune will play a key role in its expanding cloud-based service offerings, and it is acting quickly to gain an advantage by offering customers the new solution ahead of its competitors. The company expects to benefit in the following ways:
Build new markets. Previously, it was not profitable for acocon to provide managed services to customers with less than 100 computers because it required internal infrastructure resources that diminished profits. “Windows Intune means we can manage small businesses’ endpoints because no infrastructure is required,” says Luedemann. “This is a new and lucrative market for us to augment our existing customer base.”
Manage and secure PCs anywhere. At Neotechnik, Kuhlke is excited that acocon can use Windows Intune to gain instant visibility into the health status of the company’s laptops. “We can expect acocon to use the centralized endpoint management capabilities to help us finally gain control over the health and safety of our technicians’ laptops,” he says.
Reduce the cost of doing business. Because Windows Intune requires nothing but an Internet connection to provide all the endpoint protection and management services that customers need, acocon can provide greater value to customers at less cost. “The cost of doing business doesn’t increase as we sell more Windows Intune subscriptions because we can do everything remotely,” says Luedemann. “This is good for our profit margins. As we generate more monthly revenue, we can reduce our fixed costs.”
Reduce cost of sales. acocon can also reduce the investment required in making a sale. “Windows Intune is so simple our sales representatives can show our customers, and we don’t have to include the technical engineers to do demos in the sales cycle,” says Luedemann. “It’s quick and easy for customers to see the benefits, and when they learn that it’s a Microsoft product, they are reassured about security and reliability.”
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