Rhead Group, an international professional services consultancy, has revealed how moving to a cloud IT platform has resulted in a 40 percent reduction in costs.
The company migrated from on-premise systems to a cloud-based model using Microsoft Azure public cloud, Microsoft Office 365, Windows Intune, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phones. The migration was led by the company’s first IT director Phil White, who joined the company 18 months ago. Prior to his joining, IT reported to the company’s finance director.
“My best guess is that our [new cloud] platform is 40 percent less than the cost of the on-premise [infrastructure],” White told ComputerworldUK after having finished the migration earlier this month.
Rhead Group appointed an IT director and overhauled its systems after it realised its business growth had outstripped its legacy platforms. These included an email platform from 1and1.co.uk, an email exchange, NAS drives based primarily in the office and Wintel laptops running Microsoft Office purchased using Microsoft Select agreements on an ad hoc basis.
The company, which grew quickly from 300 to 700 users worldwide, began migrating to the Microsoft cloud platform in November 2013, with the help of Trustmarque.
Trustmarque designed the cloud architecture for the migration and supported Rhead throughout the project. It was also the only supplier, according to White, to even suggest cloud as a solution to the company’s expansion issue. White was also after a Microsoft solution because most of the Rhead staff use Microsoft Office and are “power users” of Microsoft Excel.
The cloud move appears to have been the right one, as White outlined the flexibility of operating a cloud platform across different countries.
“Our international geography meant that a traditional IT on-premise IT infrastructure would have been very expensive,” he said.
“You can start working on a document anywhere in the world, and continue working on it wherever you arrive. It takes away the complexity from the end user.”
He added: “From a commercial perspective, it’s very easy to predict what your cost is going to be because the tariff per user per data is very transparent, and they scale.”
There were also benefits that White did not factor into the original business case, but were “welcomed” by the end users.
“Microsoft Lync, One Note and Yammer - these tools allow them to collaborate better. As we expand, we are doing Lync-based video interviews or board meetings,” said White. Previously, the company had some legacy video conferencing systems between one office to another, or it rented the facility to do so in its Australian offices.
“We use Microsoft One Drive for business. The ability to share files without having to email them around - that took off quite quickly. And Yammer is a new internal media channel,” he added.
However, the migration was not without “a few” challenges.
“Even with Trustmarque’s support, there aren’t that many organisations that have moved into the cloud. A lot of the time we had to solve some of the problems for the first time,” White said.
“For example, there are some Microsoft limitations in how their Office suite works with their cloud platform.”
Referring to the eight terabytes of data that was migrated, White added: “When you’re doing data migration into a cloud platform, there’s some very entertaining bandwidth challenges because you have to migrate a lot of data.”
What follows now for Rhead is a period of stabilisation. The company is also looking to refresh its mobile telephone fleet to Windows, though staff who choose to bring their own, non-Windows devices, can still access Microsoft 365 by downloading it onto the iPhone or Android phones.