The Limpopo Department of Agriculture (LDA) provides agriculture training and administrative and support services in the South African Limpopo Province. For many years, LDA has relied on Microsoft technologies for messaging, collaboration, and
business productivity. Recently, LDA joined a Microsoft Office 365 early adopter program to understand how it could benefit from Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus and online services such as Microsoft Lync Online.
Limpopo Province covers an area of 12.46 hectares, which account for more than 10 percent of the total area of the Republic of South Africa. The province is endowed with abundant agricultural resources. It is noted for the production of livestock, fruits
and vegetables, cereals, and tea. The Limpopo Department of Agriculture (LDA) provides agricultural development services to help address underdeveloped food sources throughout the province. District offices also provide agricultural research, technology development
services, and college education for emerging farmers.
||By moving critical Microsoft solutions to the cloud, we will not have to worry about support, backups, or disaster recovery—some of our biggest administration headaches today.
| Kgaogelo Mohlala
IT Director, Limpopo Department of Agriculture
LDA employees work at offices across the province, in addition to field employees who work across the province. About 800 employees work at the main office; regional and district offices can have anywhere between 40 and 200 employees. Because employees rarely
meet in person, email is a critical communication tool. To provide messaging, LDA deployed Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. For business productivity, employees use Microsoft Office 2010, managing information in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software and developing
small applications in Microsoft Access database software. For document management and storage, LDA uses Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.
Because employees across the province work together to develop and provide services, LDA wanted to offer solutions to help them communicate better in real time. It wanted to give employees access to their email when they are away from the office. LDA was
also interested in providing instant messaging capabilities.
As a government department, LDA constantly looks for ways to increase operational efficiency, and it struggles to find skilled IT workers to manage its on-premises infrastructure. To stay current with the latest technology without increasing administration,
LDA started to explore cloud-based services as a way to provide up-to-date solutions for employees.
Interested in providing leading-edge technology, LDA wanted to evaluate Microsoft Lync Server 2013 for more instant communication, but it was concerned about the deployment time and effort to test the solution on-premises. It also wanted to evaluate
the next generation of Microsoft Office for the latest productivity capabilities. When LDA learned about Microsoft Office 365, it realized that it could test both Microsoft Lync Online and Office 365 ProPlus, the full client version of Office delivered as
a service, without installing additional hardware or disrupting business.
LDA worked with Microsoft Partner Network member Inobits Consulting to set up the Office 365 services for about 450 employees. To scope the initial upgrade, Inobits used enhanced Office telemetry tools to determine if employees would face any potential compatibility
issues and block unwanted add-ins and Office extensions from loading.
To install Office 365 ProPlus, Inobits used Click-to-Run, a streaming and virtualization technology built in to Office 365 ProPlus, with LDA’s existing software distribution product. Even before Office 365 ProPlus is fully installed, LDA employees can start
to use the new Office applications within minutes. Click-to-Run acts as an isolated environment for Office 365 ProPlus to run on employees’ computers, so they can use the latest Office version side-by-side with an older version. They can test compatibility
between Office and their macros and plug-ins. If an issue arises, they can easily open the older version of Office and continue working. Click-to-Run also delivers Office updates whenever they are available.
LDA set up Office 365 accounts so that employees could test the instant messaging, presence, conferencing, and desktop sharing capabilities in Lync Online. To keep administration to a minimum, it will test Microsoft Exchange Online and SharePoint Online
and consider moving those technologies to the cloud. It also envisions Office 365 as the future collaboration infrastructure for its students attending agricultural colleges.
By evaluating Office 365 ProPlus and Lync Online, LDA could create a roadmap for continuing to provide the latest Microsoft technologies to help employees work better together across the province.
Improve productivity. By using instant messaging to reach out to colleagues, employees can get answers to questions in real time. “People do not always read email messages immediately. By using instant messaging in Lync, employees can work
better together to make decisions and resolve issues quickly,” says Kgaogelo Mohlala, IT Director at the Limpopo Department of Agriculture.
Reduce IT administration. “By moving critical Microsoft solutions to the cloud, we will not have to worry about support, backups, or disaster recovery—some of our biggest administration headaches today,” says Mohlala. Instead, LDA can reduce
the number of servers and the software that its IT team has to manage. It also no longer has to worry about trying to find qualified IT personnel as it adds solutions.
Reduce travel. By using online meetings, videoconferencing, and desktop sharing in Lync Online, employees can meet virtually instead of traveling for meetings. “The ability for people to see each other through a videoconference or to share
slide presentations online through Microsoft PowerPoint reduces the need for face-to-face meetings,” says Mohlala.
Provide the latest technology. With faster installations and streaming technology in Office 365 ProPlus, LDA significantly decreases the amount of time it takes to deliver and install Office upgrades, which means employees always have the
latest technology available. Employees can continue working with Office applications even during updates. In addition, with online services, employees always have access to the latest capabilities available for Microsoft enterprise solutions.
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