Aviapartner has a varied workforce, including office-based executives and a fluctuating number of crews working in airports across Europe. To replace its existing “one-size-fits-all” email service, Aviapartner
subscribed to Microsoft Office 365 to acquire flexible, cloud-based email licensing options. Now, it saves money and can give all employees the appropriate level of email and communications services to work productively.
Aviapartner ground crews provide services for commercial airlines and private aviation companies that contribute to a seamless travel experience for more than 30 million passengers a year. Aviapartner also provides cargo handling for approximately 1
million tons of cargo each year.. Aviapartner services include check-in and ticketing, baggage handling, aircraft loading and unloading, preparation of flight documentation, calculation of weight and balance, cargo warehousing and import/export documentation.
To streamline on-premises IT, Aviapartner outsources its business software hosting and help desk to its partner, Cegeka, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network with Gold competencies. It also outsourced its email service, which was based on Microsoft
Exchange Server 2003, to a third-party hoster. “We wanted an email service that was more cost-effective and flexible,” says Toon Martens, Chief Information Officer at Aviapartner. “Only part of our workforce has individual mailboxes. Their communication needs
differ from workers on the ground who use shared mailboxes accessed on a shared PC infrastructure to receive email messages from the airlines.”
However, all Aviapartner employees with email service used the same Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 messaging and collaboration client and Microsoft Outlook Web Access web-based email, regardless of their functionality needs. “We had a maximum inbox of 2 gigabytes
[GB], so employees created Outlook data files [.pst files],” says Dominiek Derhore, IT Service Manager at Aviapartner. “When our staff backed up .pst files to the server, it added to the load on our wide area network and we incurred extra storage costs. Also,
if they archived .pst files on their PCs, we had no way of safeguarding them.”
Because the number of ground staff fluctuated with seasonal variations in airline traffic, Aviapartner IT staff members continuously added and deleted workers to the hosted Exchange Server environment. “This was a difficult process that could take an entire
day,” says Derhore.
Aviapartner began looking for an alternative email service with flexible licensing policies. The company was determined to find a cloud-based option to minimize IT capital expenditures. “We decided against Google Apps for Business because we wanted to
give employees a familiar, easy-to-use interface,” says Martens.
||Subscribing to Microsoft Office 365 was all about optimizing our IT spending. We gained a more up-to-date, flexible email service at less cost. That’s good for the bottom line.
Chief Information Officer, Aviapartner
Aviapartner subscribed to the Microsoft Exchange Online cloud-based email and calendaring service, one of several cloud services available in Office 365. It subscribed to 1,100 seats of Exchange Online and 1,300 seats of the more cost-effective and feature
appropriate Exchange Online Kiosk service. Some employees with Exchange Online use the Office Outlook client, including email, calendar, contacts, and personal archiving capabilities. Also, they can use Microsoft Outlook Web Apps, a web-based email service
that includes the Conversation View feature to see messages in context, and the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol for synchronizing mailbox data between mobile devices and Exchange Online. Employees with the Exchange Online Kiosk option use Outlook Web
Apps. Exchange Online also offers shared mailboxes as a separate option that is not assigned to a particular plan. “With Exchange Online, we gained an instant upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft Exchange Server with no upfront server investments,” says
Martens. “We were up and running by December 2011.”
The Aviapartner IT staff knew that there would be a period of adjustment for the employees moving to Exchange Online Kiosk and tried to help them see the appropriateness of that edition for their communications requirements. “It’s not only about technology,”
says Derhore. “Change management should not be underestimated. The migration was carefully planned in several phases, and our IT staff members at different locations were key in providing support onsite."
Since subscribing to Office 365, Aviapartner has reduced IT costs by tailoring its email and communications services to meet the needs of different employees. “Subscribing to Microsoft Office 365 is all about optimizing our IT spending,” says Martens.
“We gained a more up-to-date, flexible email service at less cost. That’s good for the bottom line.”
Increased Flexibility, Lower Costs
Aviapartner reviewed employees’ job descriptions and evaluated their email volume and work habits so it could adjust employees’ email service to the right size.
“With Office 365, we have the flexibility to allocate our IT investments more accurately, which means we gain better value per user,” says Derhore. “We have achieved significant savings compared to our previous scenario.”
Aviapartner has a private cloud at the Cegeka data center for its line-of-business software combined with a public cloud service for e-mail. This hybrid model enables the agile IT service required by this fast-growing ground handling services provider.
Easy Deployment and Management
Aviapartner needed to deploy Office 365 in less than two months, before its contract with the previous hoster ended. “We were impressed with how quickly Cegeka was able to migrate 2,400 mailboxes,” says Martens. “Technically, the deployment went very smoothly;
there was virtually no disruption for employees at any of the airports.”
The IT staff was also pleased with how quickly Aviapartner can add temporary workers to the Office 365 environment. “The help desk at Cegeka can set up users in minutes, instead of a day,” says Derhore. “That means we can easily accommodate our fluctuating
workforce and new employees are immediately productive.”
Gained a Feature-Rich Email Service
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Now that employees have a 25 GB mailbox, they no longer need Outlook data files. Employees can divide email messages between their searchable mailboxes and personal archives and enjoy an improved web-based mail experience that promotes productivity. “People
are used to having mobile access to their mailboxes, so we are happy that Microsoft will be enabling Exchange ActiveSync for Exchange Online Kiosk users,” says Martens. “This benefit is another indication that we were right to choose Office 365.”