Media distribution leader adopts Microsoft Cloud to increase efficiency and simplicity of global operations
By Michael Cowler, Technical Operations Director
Adstream is the world's leading adverting distribution company. Headquartered in London we operate globally with over 300 staff across 33 offices. We're a truly 24/7 operation; our day to day working life is frenetic because our business never sleeps - there is always an office awake somewhere in the world.
Our core business is the distribution and management of media assets including TV commercials, print and radio advertising. Central to our operation is a custom-built, cloud based asset management system, Adbank, from which we streamline the execution of our customers' media campaigns every step of the way taking their advertising to the thousands of broadcasters around the world. That includes all the digitisation, specification adjustment and quality control of that material. Every year Adstream deliver over 2million adverts across TV, print and radio.
Our IT environment had organically grown over the years, with new systems and tools bolted on to support the increasing requirements of a growing business. We undertook a detailed, far reaching audit, which showed we were not time or money efficient; it drastically needed to be transformed into enterprise class environment. Our Exchange server farm had become too large to manage, the hardware was out of date and we were running multiple versions of the software. Backups were a concern as well as the amount of engineer time taken up on maintenance of non-production systems. We were hindered in the development of our asset management platform, because of the repair cost and time required by the other systems. We also were experiencing frustratingly poor email service and huge mailboxes were making the systems slow, especially when trying to locate historic content. It was a stressful situation for all.
I couldn't afford any risk with the new system. As a first step, I wanted to take away all the pain, time and cost relating to email in particular, and allow my staff to focus on developing the systems that contribute to the bottom line. We'd previously run an internal pilot of Google mail and found it so inflexible and unable to accommodate the different devices within the business that it presented too much risk as an alternative option. We started looking at the whole spectrum of cloud-based and on-premise solutions.
Cloudamour, a specialist Microsoft services partner, was recommended to me by an industry peer. When I heard about the positive experience they were having with Office 365, I thought "that's what I want!" Cloudamour worked like an extension of my team managing the entire process - we just provided them with access and all the information they needed. There was lots of planning and preparation and they impressed us with their depth of knowledge and skill. The noteworthy point is that this wasn't just a UK migration. Cloudamour managed all the preparation with our remote offices, spanning over 20 languages which is no small task! On the day we switched the systems over, it was business as usual with no interruption. It was the best migration I have ever been involved with!
We've now completely decommissioned our old system and replaced it with the Office 365 Enterprise plan. What I love about Office 365 is that it's not just about email; it's not a 'one trick pony'. I get a full suite of applications for people to use right away and to extend in the future - that's real added value and its gives the business the scope we need for our growth.
It's flawless really - it just works. We have everyone using Office 2013 for document creation and Exchange for email. There's been an overnight improvement in the email experience, especially for the Mac users, and the support requirement has died down to almost zero which felt like a dream when I started this journey! In partnership with Cloudamour, we've created a SharePoint Adoption team to champion its usage in the business and the next stage is to get all users operational on the full package of services that Office 365 offers.
My original objective was to free-up IT management resources, and I have definitely achieved that and more. Office 365 has tidied up all the day-to-day management tasks and I'm finally realising my vision of having the full-time engineers working on the development of our strategic, revenue-driving systems.
So all in all Office 365 has provided an immediate return to the business. We have a unified experience for everyone, including speed of access for the teams in the remote sites. Maxed-out mailboxes and email archiving is a distant nightmare and we have a less complex hardware and software estate - in fact we have decommissioned 6 servers! Cloudamour continues to support our environment and they provide an outstanding service.
Office 365 has not only delivered what it promised, it gives me real peace of mind. It's going to be a real game-changer for us. We don't even think about email anymore, it's just not part of my team's day. We have no distractions and we can get on with growing the business.
For more information on Adstream, please visit www.adstream.com
For more information on Cloudamour, please visit www.cloudamour.com