Written by: Jeremy Burrows, IT Manager.
As one of New Zealand’s largest sports organizations, the NZ Rugby Union (NZRU) is charged with fostering, developing, administering, promoting, and representing the game of rugby in New Zealand, though we are perhaps most famous for our “All Blacks” national rugby team!
We have around 85 full time employees, with most being highly mobile workers (coaches, referees, support staff etc.) using laptops that need to connect to corporate systems wherever they are on the road.
To help streamline mobile access and reduce costs, we decided to move our email system from an on-premise to a cloud based solution and in doing so evaluated offerings from Microsoft, Google and a local hosting partner. We put each solution through its paces to ensure it was going to be the right fit for our company. Upfront, Google Apps appeared to be the cheapest and hence most attractive option, but once we started testing it in real business scenarios we became less impressed. We encountered problems uploading Word and Excel files that ended up being converted into garble, the Outlook Sync Tool was difficult to set up and was rife with usability issues and to be honest, there was just a lack of business functionality in the Google Apps solution that drew us to the conclusion it was not ready for enterprise use. On top of this, we had some real concerns about Google’s customer support capabilities, I had questions about where our data would be stored that Google couldn’t answer and once we did the math, with all the third party tools that we would have had to buy and install, it was nowhere near as cheap as it first appeared.
The Microsoft Online Services solution of Exchange 2010, SharePoint 2010, Office Communicator and hosted archiving was the solution of choice for the NZRU for a number of reasons. Familiarity was a key benefit, as we had been using Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint for a number of years meaning no re-training costs for staff. With Microsoft, we were guaranteed the same user experience with very little down-time during the implementation process. Our investment in the new system is secure and future-proofed, with strong security guarantees in place. We also have greater trust in the Microsoft brand, and know they have the capacity to deliver reliable and secure products and support services. And they have a well-defined roadmap providing clear direction and upgrades each quarter meaning continual and predictable improvements in product features.
We wanted a system that would provide our users with the same, or better, experience than they currently had – and with Microsoft Online we have definitely achieved this. We’ve improved productivity and internal communications and there has been nothing but positive feedback from staff. We are looking to upgrading to Office 2010 in the coming months, which we hope will improve productivity and usability further!