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Case study: An SME migrates to Microsoft Office 365

Events and hospitality firm iLuka has moved its IT into the cloud to improve security and saved thousands of pounds in Microsoft licensing in the process.

Events and hospitality firm iLuka has moved its IT into the cloud to improve security and saved thousands of pounds in Microsoft licensing fees in the process.

iLuka specialises in managing the advertising campaigns of large multinational firms at the Summer and Winter Olympics every two years. It organises activity for the major sponsors such as hotels and travel.

The small UK-based firm decided to move from an on-premise Microsoft infrastructure to a cloud-based infrastructure using Microsoft Office 365 when it became clear that its clients, which are huge multinationals, wanted a higher level of security.

The Microsoft Office 365 suite is a hosted, online version of the traditional installed version of Microsoft Office software. This online service is subscription-based and includes Office, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and Microsoft Office Web Apps.

Tim Chapman, IT director at iLuka, says the company decided to move to Office 365 to reduce risks by taking advantage of Microsoft’s high-level security: “Our clients were not comfortable about our datacentre security and wanted enterprise-level protection.”

As a result of the migration the company has realised massive cost savings. The firm, which has a small number of core permanent staff, recruits hundreds more for a month-long period during the Olympics.

For example, during the Olympics in London this year its office-based staff will grow from 50 to about 600 for a short period. These users need access to e-mail and need to use applications such as Word and Excel.

For every Olympic event since the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, iLuka has been buying year-long licences for Microsoft Exchange even though they were only needed for a matter of weeks.

“That was very expensive. We tried to see if it was possible to rent licences but Microsoft could not enable it at that time,” said Chapman.

Now that iLuka has moved to Office 365 it simply goes into the membership portal and adds the number of users needed for the time period required. It used to pay about £700 for every new user, with a year licence, but now it costs £15.75 per user per month. The firm can now add 1,000 new users for a month at a cost of £15,750 compared to £700,000 in the past.

The company has also decommissioned six of its seven Exchange servers as a result of the migration.

Chapman said the switch from on-premise software to Office 365 was a bigger than expected project: “It is not something you would take lightly. To move to the cloud is easy if you are a green-field site but when you move from on-premise you have to co-exist and this is not easy.”

He said the cloud and on-premise infrastructures had to co-exist for about four months.

The company is now committed to the cloud going forward and will assess what else it can be used for. Chapman said that although the cost savings are great they are not the main driver. Access to the latest technologies with enterprise-class security and unlimited storage capacity and back-up are examples of the technology benefits that a small firm might not otherwise have access to.

“We are an SME but our clients are global giants so to match their expectations we have to find ground where everybody is comfortable,” he said.

It is not just SMEs that can benefit. In August Indian giant Tata Steel moved two legacy e-mail systems to Microsoft Office 365 system across its European business. This was the company’s first major shift into the cloud and is one of the biggest deployments of Microsoft Office 365 in Europe. System integrator Capgemini supported the migration from on-premise software to Office 365.

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