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Dell is a leading global designer and manufacturer of computer products and services. The Texas-based company realized revenues of U.S.$52.9 billion in fiscal year 2010.
Dell delivers business solutions and services to customers worldwide. It wanted to understand how cloud-based services could help customers deliver the most cost-effective productivity solutions.
Dell deployed a pilot project of Microsoft Office 365 to selected solution architects in four countries.
- Reduce costs
- Improve productivity and client service
- Reduce administration
Since 1984, Dell has delivered technology solutions that help customers address business challenges. As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Dell designs and implements communication and collaboration solutions using Microsoft technologies. To understand how customers might benefit from cloud-based services, Dell evaluated a pilot project of Microsoft Office 365, a hosted service that offers web-enabled business productivity, collaboration, and communication tools. Dell expects that customers who subscribe to Office 365 can reduce costs and improve productivity.
Headquartered in Round Rock, Texas, Dell’s 96,000 employees are committed to making technology work for customers and communities. The company has more than 41,000 Dell Services team members in 90 countries. The services organization packages servers, desktops, laptops, network, storage solutions, and applications together to meet customers’ technology and business requirements.
As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and a leading Microsoft global systems integrator, Dell works closely with Microsoft to deliver solutions that simplify IT for customers. Internally, Dell Services employees use Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010, and Dell has deployed Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 to provide messaging and collaboration solutions. Dell also implements business productivity solutions for its customers based on these on-premises solutions. It recently added Microsoft Lync Server 2010 to its portfolio of communications and collaboration solutions, so customers can take advantage of presence, instant messaging, robust conferencing, and enterprise voice capabilities. Dell wanted to understand how customers could benefit from new cloud-based capabilities.
Dell also wanted to understand how cloud-based services might solve some of its own business challenges. To support customers, Dell Services team members frequently work from customer sites and other locations to design, implement, and support technology solutions. Terry Storey, Senior Global Architect at Dell, says, "If I want to connect to the Dell corporate network, I have to log on to the virtual private network [VPN]. It took time to establish a connection, and we sometimes had challenges with performance due to heavy network traffic.” Also, some employees work at customer sites where ports required for VPN were closed, so they could not access key data and information—and any delays in communication could prevent them from resolving customer issues in a timely manner.
After Dell learned about Microsoft Office 365, it joined the Microsoft Rapid Deployment Program to understand how Office 365 can help resolve common IT challenges for customers and for itself. Office 365, the next-generation communications and collaboration cloud-based services from Microsoft, combines the familiar Office desktop suite with Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Lync Online.
In February 2011, Dell began a pilot project of Office 365 with selected solution architects in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and France. Solution architects are services team members who work directly with customers to recommend and implement technology solutions. With Office 365, the solution architects were able to access the capabilities of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online through the Office 2010 client. Some Office 365 subscription service plans include Office Professional Plus, the latest Office version on the desktop. With Office Professional Plus, customers have more flexibility and predictable licensing costs with the pay-as-you-go, per-user licensing, but they can still take advantage of the full functionality of Office. Storey says, “With Office 365, all of the capabilities in Office 2010 are maximized, with applications and services working together and seamlessly connected.”
During the pilot project, Dell solution architects identified several key capabilities for customers that Office Professional Plus provides with the Office 365 services.
Multiple employees can use co-authoring to work together simultaneously on documents such as sales proposals or legal contracts.
Customers can edit photos and videos directly within Office applications like Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, and then use the Broadcast Slide Show feature to share these professional-looking presentations with others instantly.
With Microsoft Excel 2010, customers can summarize data trends in a single cell with Sparklines and use Slicers to analyze data dynamically.
Dell believes that its customers can take advantage of Microsoft Office Web Apps and other Office 365 capabilities that help employees work effectively from anywhere. With Office Web Apps, customers can view and do basic editing of documents with high fidelity through a web browser.
With Office 365, solution architects at Dell no longer need to connect to the corporate network through VPN—they can access key information and data in SharePoint sites when working at a customer site with only an Internet connection. Storey says, “With Office 365, employees can access content from anywhere. Because they do not need VPN to connect from customer sites, they can resolve issues quickly. They can also easily share information both with customers and other Dell team members.” Employees can easily establish SharePoint team sites to share design documents, project plans, and other key project documents with customers. When faced with a difficult question from a customer, a solution architect can access project team sites and experts to resolve issues quickly.
For more instant communication, Dell sees Office 365 customers using Lync Online in two different ways. First, some customers will use a pure cloud-based solution with Lync Online for instant messaging, presence, and unified conferencing. Second, customers who desire enterprise voice capabilities can license on-premises rights to Lync Server through their Office 365 subscription. In addition to the capabilities of Lync Online, the on-premises Lync Server solution provides native dial-in audio conferencing, voice, and telephony capabilities. With the on-premises solution, customers have more options to replace private-branch exchange (PBX) systems or connect PBX systems to Lync Server for voice capabilities and connectivity to the public switched telephone network. With enterprise voice through Lync Server, customers can click to communicate via chat, conference, or voice from within SharePoint Online, Microsoft Outlook 2010, and other Office applications to resolve project issues quickly.
With Exchange Online, customers are provided with 25 gigabyte (GB) mailboxes. Through Microsoft Forefront Online Protection for Exchange, customers can take advantage of premium antispam and antivirus protection, in addition to regular security updates. This helps customers to manage the risk of losing important data.
With Office 365, customers receive a 99.9 percent financially backed service level agreement. Customers no longer have to manage all of the servers and hardware required for communication and collaboration solutions. Customers can also take advantage of high availability, disaster recovery, and backups provided with Office 365.
Dell believes customers can decrease costs, improve productivity, and reduce administration by using Office 365. Storey says, “With Office 365, Dell can go to customers and present a set of Dell and Microsoft solutions that can significantly reduce the costs and challenges of IT management.”
With Office 365, organizations can reduce the cost and challenges of managing hardware and other infrastructure. Storey says, “Cloud-based services provide cost advantages for many organizations.” Dell believes that customers can rely on hosted infrastructure services such as high availability, backups, larger mailboxes, and disaster recovery at a much lower cost than if they provided the services themselves. Organizations may save thousands or even millions of dollars on purchases and support for IT hardware by moving to Office 365.
Dell also expects that customers can reduce software licensing costs by using Office 365. With Office Professional Plus, customers can potentially eliminate the costs for third-party photo and video editing tools or for some data analysis tools, because of the data analysis capabilities in Excel 2010. With Lync, organizations can reduce conferencing fees and telephony charges by 50 percent or more and save thousands of dollars by replacing PBX systems.
With Office 365, Dell expects that it could reduce its own IT costs in a couple of areas. Dell could reduce its dependency on VPN, which leads to lower costs for VPN licenses. It could also save on network costs by reducing network traffic, because employees only need to access the Dell network for internal services (they can access everything else from outside the network).
Improve Productivity and Client Service
Dell believes its customers can improve productivity by using the capabilities of Office 365. Storey says, “With Office 365, organizations can make capabilities available that were previously unaffordable, or that they did not have the resources to support.” With capabilities such as co-authoring and Broadcast Slide Show, team members can work together to complete projects faster, even when they are in different locations. Employees can complete work on sales proposals and other documents from almost any location with Office Web Apps.
With Office 365, employees can more easily communicate with each other and with key business partners. Employees can resolve issues more efficiently with the ability to initiate voice calls and click to communicate with Lync.
With the ability to access content in the cloud from almost anywhere, Dell service team members can provide better client service by resolving customer issues faster. Solution architects at Dell can use Office 365 to more easily access email, calendars, and project team sites when they work at customer locations. Service team members will no longer spend time establishing a VPN connection or dealing with VPN-related performance issues. Storey says, “Office 365 will help us collaborate with our customers in a richer way. It helps employees work better from customer sites, home, or anywhere else.”
Dell expects most customers to reduce the administrative time that IT usually spends to manage patches and updates. Dell expects that it can also reduce IT administration time and costs with Office 365. Storey says, “With Office 365, like our customers, we will not have to worry about feature and capability updates.”
Storey says, “The major thing that customers see with Office 365 is that many of the things that they were concerned about managing themselves, they can now hand off to someone else: security, infrastructure, high availability, performance, and upgrades.”
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 that guarantees 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: