Company: Washington Capital Management
Overview: The investment advisor firm hit a critical breaking point and needed to upgrade their outdated on-premises servers to free up valuable IT resources.
Solution: Office 365 hybrid deployment – mailbox migration, hybrid Exchange deployment & Active Directory federation.
Washington Capital Management is an investment advisor firm headquartered in Seattle. After using Exchange 2010 for email, the company came to a critical point where it needed to either upgrade its on-premises servers or look at a cloud solution like Office 365. With offices spread across the West coast and a growing employee network, Washington Capital Management chose an Office 365 hybrid deployment to gain a secure yet agile email solution that would scale with the company as it grows.
The Challenge: Freeing Up Valuable IT Resources
For its two-person IT team, wrangling day-to-day support requests and updates left little time to explore new business technologies that would move the needle forward.
“Our IT team is relatively small, so the amount of time required for maintaining and keeping up to date with current tech was holding us back from providing users with the latest offerings out there,” said IT manager Bill Brosius.
Growth was another driving force behind the need for an email overhaul. Washington Capital Management wanted a flexible email and mobile management solution that would seamlessly support mobile productivity and minimize the burden on IT.
The Solution: Office 365 Hybrid Deployment
When exploring email solutions, Washington Capital Management wanted to stay within Office 365 because users were already accustomed to Microsoft products. Bill had to weigh the advantages of upgrading the company’s servers and staying completely on-premises or completing a hybrid configuration to get the best of both worlds.
“We looked at upgrading not just email for Exchange, but also the Office suite,” Bill said. “The bottom line is it was cheaper to look at a hosted Office 365 platform.”
To preserve its onsite servers while supporting a mobile workforce, the team opted for an Office 365 hybrid deployment and the E3 package, giving users access to the Exchange environment and full suite of Office applications on their mobile devices and desktops. The complete project scope included:
- Mailbox migration
- Hybrid Exchange deployment
- Password sync for Office 365
- Active Directory federation
- Public folder migration
By implementing single sign-on via Active Directory Federation Services, Washington Capital Management could create a seamless user experience between the cloud and on-premises worlds.
When executing a hybrid migration, a few missteps in the planning and deployment phase can delay the migration, degrade the experience or result in an unsupported configuration. To handle this complex migration, Washington Capital Management needed a cloud IT expert with a proven track record of successful Office 365 hybrid migrations.
Avoiding Hybrid Headaches With a Trusted Cloud Partner
When looking for a cloud IT partner, Washington Capital Management sought a company that had experience in hybrid migrations and could tackle any issue that arose. After contacting a few potential partners, Agile IT offered the best plan for accomplishing the job, Bill said.
Prior to the migration, Bill worked with his Agile IT account manager to discuss his goals and expectations and outline a detailed scope of work to make sure the company’s goals were met. From there, Bill worked alongside the team to complete the migration.
“Agile IT helped us work through issues such as how our firewall was set up and how our spam was being handled,” Bill said. “No matter what came up, Agile IT had the knowledge or access to individuals with experience in that situation.”
Because Bill and the team were heavily involved throughout the process, they also extracted valuable takeaways from the hybrid configuration.
“As an IT admin faced with doing the project on my own versus partnering with Agile IT, working with Agile IT took the stress away from getting the job done correctly and on time,” Bill said.
The Advantages of a Hybrid Office 365 Migration
Since the migration, the Washington Capital Management team has already seen an uptick in productivity and communication. The new hybrid Office 365 environment has also removed administrative tasks from the IT team, freeing them to focus on projects that drive growth.
“The less we have to worry about infrastructure, the more we’re able to focus on training and growing, which benefits us and users overall,” Bill said.
For video conferencing, Washington Capital Management had been using on-premises Lync 2010, which it replaced with Skype for Business. Having unlimited online meetings, IM and HD video conferencing, including the Skype for Business app, has helped connect the West coast offices while trimming the company’s phone bill.
“Skype for Business is a great tool for allowing us both internal and external collaboration,” Bill said. “People are making more and more audio calls through Skype, which takes stress off our phone environment.”
Having remote connectivity to critical business applications has also been a game-changer for employees. Prior to adopting Office 365, standard OWA was the only way employees could access email remotely from non-domain joined equipment. Now, Washington Capital Management can provide that extra level of remote activity by enabling users to install the Office suite on multiple devices and desktops.