Aurora Petroleum has on-shore oil and gas assets in the United Kingdom. To jump-start its business, Aurora deployed Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and subscribed to Microsoft Office 365. Offloading email and office files to the cloud improved server performance and saved £6,000 (U.S.$9,600) in hardware upgrades. Employees gained reliable remote access to geological and financial software, and daily computer backups helped secure data. Business Needs
Aurora Petroleum was created by a group of colleagues who saw an opportunity to revitalise neglected on-shore oil and gas assets in the United Kingdom. The staffs’ cumulative experience, plus the company’s ability to raise capital and source the latest oil-extraction technologies, differentiates the startup from competitors.
In 2010, Aurora asked Microsoft Certified Gold Partner SunDog Services to help with business technology, and owner Stanley Yau deployed Windows Small Business Server 2008. “We stored our data-intensive, line-of-business applications, QuickBooks financial software, and corporate files on the server, and we had Microsoft Exchange-based email,” says Ian Roche, Managing Director at Aurora Petroleum. “But with last winter’s snow, we frequently lost Internet connectivity. We’re often working at remote sites so we rely on email to keep the business running. Our productivity took a hit, and we couldn’t afford for that to happen again.”
Aurora staff needs to access geological and financial data remotely; however, they experienced issues with the virtual private network (VPN) connection at times. With everything running on the server—an older model, inherited from a former workplace—performance was less than optimal. “Remote working became painful,” says Elaine Stoddart, Finance Director at Aurora Petroleum. “Transferring large data files saturated our bandwidth. We needed a more scalable solution to grow the business.”
There was no way to back up company laptops or secure business data that employees carried on their mobile devices. “Laptops get damaged and mobile phones get lost, impacting productivity. We wanted to secure our data better,” says Roche.
Sharing information with consultants and investors was also a problem. “We updated investors when we saw them, or through emails, and we asked consultants to retrieve data from online sites like Dropbox,” says Roche. “We needed an easy, professional, and secure way to share live data with our partners and investors.”Solution
To solve these issues, Yau recommended that Aurora upgrade to Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, designed especially for businesses with up to 25 users. This user-friendly server solution from Microsoft would help Aurora to protect data on both the server and the company’s four PCs and four portable computers with regular backups and automatic updates. With the solution, Aurora can also take advantage of Microsoft Office 365, a suite of cloud-based services, including Microsoft Exchange
||With Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, we can choose how we store and access our data—on-premises or in the cloud. Now we’re free to organise the business the way that works best for us.
Managing Director, Aurora Petroleum
Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Lync Online, as well as Microsoft Office Professional Plus desktop software and Microsoft Office Web Apps.
“The move to Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials would alleviate the issues Aurora had with Internet connectivity,” says Yau. “We moved email to Exchange Online and the essential corporate files to SharePoint Online. So if the Internet goes down locally, the core business operations will still function. We are also using the Windows Small Business Server 2011 Premium Add-On, which offers an additional license for Windows Server 2008 R2 for another server to host additional line-of-business applications.”
Aurora will continue to store its geological software and QuickBooks on the server. However, Roche and other staff members and consultants can access geological data and Stoddart can work on financial files from anywhere, using Remote Web Access in Windows Small Business Server 2011, through a web browser. The server hosts all the backup data it gleans from the company’s PCs and portable computers.
In May 2011, Yau began migrating Aurora’s data from Windows Small Business Server 2008 to Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, reconfiguring each person’s portable computer and mobile device at the same time. The company expects to be fully migrated to Exchange Online and SharePoint Online by the end of July 2011. Benefits
After deploying their easy-to-use server solution, Aurora Petroleum can focus more on extracting oil reserves cost-effectively. “With Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, we can choose how we store and access our data—on-premises or in the cloud,” says Roche. “Now, we’re free to organise the business the way that works best for us. With business data and email available in the cloud, if the server goes down, we can keep the business running and stay in contact with our customers.”
Cost avoidance. Now Aurora doesn’t have to upgrade its physical infrastructure. “We would have needed to install a bonded ADSL [asymmetric digital subscriber line] at £4,800 a year and added storage and memory for £1,500,” says Roche. “We reduced the strain on our server, postponing the £6,000 cost of a new machine.”
Better protection for business data. With automatic backup, Aurora employees don’t have to worry about losing portable computers or mobile devices: All the data is backed up and safeguarded on the server. “We also have Exchange Online security features, which means I can remotely wipe a phone if it’s stolen to make sure no one gets hold of confidential data,” says Yau.
Improved performance and remote access. “I’m not wasting 15 minutes a day waiting for files to load,” says Stoddart. “With email in the cloud, less traffic passes through our broadband connection, so if we need to access the files remotely with Remote Web Access, it’s a much better experience. It’s a relief to move away from the VPN solution!” Also, moving conventional office documents and email to the cloud gave the server more computer power for Roche’s data-intensive industry software applications.
Better platform to grow the business. With the latest Microsoft business technology and cloud services combined, Aurora can present a more professional image to investors. “We can structure SharePoint Online sites around projects and grant access to investors,” says Roche. “Stan has built a website on Office 365. Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials is turning out to be the perfect platform to grow our business.”
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