John Keells Holdings PLC is the largest listed conglomerate on Sri Lanka’s Colombo Stock Exchange, managing the highest number of hotel rooms in the country, as well as the largest privately owned transportation
business. The company also has business interests in Real Estate, Consumer Foods and Retail, Financial Services, and Information Technology. Their investment in Sri Lanka is so deep and widely diversified that their stock price is sometimes used by international
financial analysts as a benchmark of the country’s economy
Founded in the early 1870s, John Keells Holdings PLC currently consists of 70 companies, and employs almost 11,000 people. The privately held company places high value on innovation and evolution while maintaining its focus on strong growth. Until recently,
the large conglomerate suffered from major inefficiencies due to a decentralized IT infrastructure that was supported by multiple IT vendors, and had staff using numerous, disparate email platforms. For the growing company, this also caused great difficulty
in scaling beyond current email platforms. IBM’s Lotus Notes was being used for email collaboration, contact management and file sharing, but the company found the environment to be slow, unreliable, costly and time consuming for IT to maintain. In addition,
the smaller 100MB mailboxes combined with the inability to back-up and store emails on a consistent basis were not sufficient for user’s needs. Also, as more and more employees were bringing their own devices to work and using smartphones to access data, John
Keells was faced with a huge cost associated with upgrading Lotus Notes to support those devices. In 2010, the John Keells Group IT team began a search for a highly scalable, more reliable solution that would improve their business efficiencies and enhance
agility to respond quickly to new opportunities, without requiring a large capital cost.
John Keells put out an RFP for cloud based services and received proposals that included solutions from Microsoft, IBM and Google. While IBM was considered initially because of the already established Lotus Notes and legacy email system, they faded quickly
due to a lack of online applications and communications beyond email and would not be suitable for the longer term. John Keells completed proof of concepts with cloud solutions from Google and Microsoft, paying close attention to the roadmaps of each that
led to where they wanted to evolve to as an IT provider to the business.
John Keells needed to consider how their existing services would cross over with the new proposed solutions, as well as their desire to consolidate with one vendor in order to streamline processes and system manageability while reducing costs. As a part of
the assessment, they compared how Lotus Notes could be optimized through a migration to Microsoft Office 365 and to Google. With the Google deployment, significant integration challenges were identified, and the complete solution did not align with all of
the initial requirements set out by John Keells. Cloud Vantage Services was able to demonstrate a smooth transition from Lotus Notes to Office 365, and based on their comprehensive solution that could support the business both now and in the future, Cloud
Vantage Services was selected by John Keells to manage their transition to Office 365 and the cloud.
“We were already using some of Microsoft’s products and services, so as we were looking to consolidate with a single vendor, Microsoft also made more sense,” said Ramesh Shanmuganathan, Executive Vice President and Group Chief Information Officer, John Keells
Risk mitigation through deployment and testing was another big reason that John Keells selected Microsoft Cloud Vantage Services as their vendor of choice to support their migration. Initial interactions with Cloud Vantage Services provided a holistic view
of the service offering and included deployment and post-deployment services for the full lifecycle of their IT needs.
“We had confidence in the Cloud Vantage Services team as they had practices and processes already established and also because of their experience in cloud technology. That is why we were wanted to make them a part of our team,” said Ramesh Shanmuganathan.
In addition, with Microsoft Office 365, Cloud Vantage Services would be able to extend John Keells’ current use of Microsoft’s Active Directory technology to enable better manageability of various devices within the mobile workforce, making employees more efficient
||Not only did Cloud Vantage Services help us with current best practices, but they also helped us think about the roadmap and how we could plan to take advantage of future technologies.
| Ramesh Shanmuganathan
Executive Vice President and Group Chief Information Officer
John Keells Holdings
Microsoft’s Cloud Vantage Services provided end-to-end planning and execution for John Keells’ migration to the cloud, including initial scoping, infrastructure integration and network remediation as well as the migration of email data, including mailboxes
and addresses. From the start of the project, one of their top priorities was to ensure a smooth transition to the full Office 365 platform including Exchange Online, Lync Online and SharePoint Online, with limited downtime or disruption for users.
Cloud Vantage Services took a multi-step approach to the migration, starting with a two-week design exercise in which two architects from Microsoft went onsite to review the current architecture through a series of workshops around requirements, scope and timing.
Cloud Vantage Services, then followed with an in-depth project planning phase. By following this established process, Cloud Vantage Services was able to get an in-depth understanding of John Keells’ current IT infrastructure as well as their critical business
needs in order to produce three documents that would help ensure a successful journey to the cloud: a project plan, a service enablement plan, and a remediation checklist.
Once all issues were resolved and Cloud Vantage Services had validated John Keells’ readiness for migration, they ran a pilot migration for IT users and early adopters. This process was an efficient way to ensure a seamless conversion to Office 365 with minimized
downtime for users, before moving into the full scale migration. At the same time, Cloud Vantage Services facilitated a communications plan for the upcoming transition with a weekly information flow starting 28 days ahead of migration. This included documentation
to ensure user readiness and email set-up instructions for mobile devices.
After a successful pilot, full migration to Office 365 and the Cloud took place in January, 2013. Cloud Vantage Services provided management, support and oversight throughout the transition, while working alongside the John Keells Group IT team, sharing best
practices until they were live and running seamlessly on Microsoft Office 365.
Cloud Vantage Services helped John Keells transition to the cloud and realize business value from their Office 365 investments by providing deep cloud expertise, a single point of accountability, and ongoing collaboration across the full lifecycle. John Keells
Group IT was very engaged and driven throughout the project, and deployment was considered a huge success from within the company.
Experience and Expertise led to a problem-free migration, completed on time and on budget
From the beginning of the engagement, John Keells benefited from Cloud Vantage Services’ experience and deep expertise in cloud technology. This included designing, implementing and supporting the transition to Office 365 and the cloud, delivered by Microsoft’s
comprehensive network of technical operations and experts.
Cloud Vantage Services managed the smooth migration with minimal downtime for John Keells employees, as they leveraged knowledge and experience from other projects around the globe. The project was also completed on time and on budget.
“Expertise to me means authority, knowledge, and experience,” said Ramesh Shanmuganathan “Cloud Vantage Services used all of those things to ensure that our migration to the cloud went safely and smoothly.”
He also added that the migration went quicker than they had originally hoped for, thanks to the well-established methodology followed by Cloud Vantage Services. “It was a very risk-free, efficient, and fast process,” he finished.
Full support and consulting met business needs and ensured end-user readiness
The custom technical and business consulting delivered throughout the entire transition lifecycle was one of the key success factors of the John Keells’ migration. This added benefit of Cloud Vantage Services made them stand out amongst competitors such as
Google, who could not offer this service. Cloud Vantage Services showed a true understanding of John Keells’ business needs at an enterprise level, and gave consideration to any potential challenges in terms of change management and evolving operations at
every stage of the process.
“Microsoft facilitated training and preparation for the new platform for all of our end-users. They also ensured IT team readiness, which was vital,” shared Ramesh Shanmuganathan, adding that Cloud Vantage Services “guided us through the whole process, and
explained the solution and the technology so that we had all of the information and understanding to make better decisions for our business.”
Significant knowledge transfer through collaboration increased IT agility for future
Cloud Vantage Services worked closely with Ramesh Shanmuganathan and his technical team through planning, remediation and deployment. Using a proven, collaborative approach, Microsoft deployment teams shared significant knowledge and best practices with John
Keells Group IT.
“They were in the same room, on-site, providing guidance. It was like they were an extended part of our team in terms of working together. They didn’t see themselves as outsiders and were always looking out for our best interests—aiming for common objectives,”
said Dilshan Perera, Practice Manager for Collaborations, Group IT, John Keells Holdings PLC.
“Our work with Microsoft has helped us extend our services team. Through this process, our team has become more knowledgeable, and it has increased our IT agility for future roadmap orchestration,” finished Ramesh Shanmuganathan.
Increased opportunity for future growth and integration through product roadmap
Cloud Vantage Services worked closely with John Keells to set strategic direction for their technology and for future cloud workloads. “We benefited from their third party perspective and evolving knowledge in terms of how other companies around the world are
using these technologies.
So not only did Cloud Vantage Services help us with current best practices, but they also helped us think about the roadmap and how we could plan to take advantage of future technologies,” said Ramesh Shanmuganathan. Ultimately the transition to the cloud will
continuously give the company more economies of scale, while providing them with a platform to build out applications moving forward.
Increased mailbox storage and reduced hardware costs by over $100,000
The new Office 365/cloud solution delivered by Cloud Vantage Services has given users larger mailboxes for greater storage capacity, and allowed them to extend beyond the two week maximum they previously had on the server. At the same time, John Keells was
able to save upwards of $100,000 in hardware costs for servers to manage the storage, while still maintaining governance standards.
In addition, productivity has increased as employees are more efficient, spending less time managing email and completing necessary backups.
More employee-centric IT department enables more empowered and productive workforce
One of the key benefits of Office 365 is the larger mailbox storage capacity, giving users more flexibility, and administrators the ability to recover documents, manage storage, and backup if needed. The Office 365 platform delivered by Cloud Vantage Services
has also met employees’ needs for improved collaboration, facilitated by email and other online applications such as Lync Online and SharePoint Online. In addition, with no restrictions on mobile devices, Office 365 has created a stronger emphasis on device
“We have been looking at ways to move away from the device and more towards the user since 2006,” said Ramesh Shanmuganathan. “Now, since Cloud Vantage Services helped us optimize the solution to be used on various user devices, our employees are more effective
and feel more empowered.”
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