Serving in the IT department of Carousel means we are Carousel’s #1 customer.  Because of this, we have the best talent and resources across the IT spectrum at our fingertips.  As an IT department, we naturally advocate for implementing technology to increase business agility, maximize our financial investments, and strengthen our IT security platform, so when it came to finding a better, faster, cheaper way of collaborating and sharing information, we were game.

Collectively, senior leadership discussed ways we could more successfully blend the various companies we’ve acquired during the past few years. With more than 1,300 employees and 27 locations across the country, we had to find a way to communicate reliably and in a manner that would increase our business’ agility.  As a company with 11 acquisitions under our belt, disparate systems, and a large employee base to support, security, storage, and scalability were paramount to our business operations.  We decided that moving our electronic communications to the cloud was the best route to accomplish our goals, and thus we started our journey to Office 365.

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As IT professionals, we were chomping at the bit to get our hands on Office 365 and roll-out to the masses, but we knew we had to step back and plan what we ultimately wanted to achieve with this deployment.  For us, we had to accomplish three core deliverables:

  1. Support the user experience in a way that maximized their day
  2. Commit to no business disruption during implementation and migration
  3. Reduce overall spend in infrastructure (power, hardware, cooling, etc.)

Next, we then determined the gains from this project. Before we implemented Office 365, we managed our electronic communications via on premise systems within data centers located throughout our New England offices. This type of infrastructure investment proved costly, was a challenge to scale, and it provided an inconsistent and sometimes convoluted user experience. Remember the days when you would receive a notification that your email inbox is full and you need to delete hundreds of email messages immediately? Or, remember your computer crashing and losing all email in your account, or an email profile recovery that took days?

By moving email to the cloud, we knew we could experience new levels of security, storage, and even savings. The beauty of storing data in the cloud is that it’s always backed up in multiple data centers and users have the ability—should a laptop go MIA or crash—to access their files and inbox from anywhere in the world on any device. And, thanks to Office 365’s technology backed by Microsoft security, it also means robust security parameters are in place, so users and business leaders can rest assured that sensitive information is kept private. (We also keep ultra-sensitive data stored in our secure facilities for additional security).

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Lastly, thanks to this migration, we were able to recognize financial savings and address many other additional strategic initiatives.  By removing and repurposing the infrastructure components from our data center that would have typically stored our email and electronic file data, we reduced power and cooling demand on our corporate data centers and lessened our local network connectivity and security needs.  Internally, stakeholders are thrilled at the new capabilities afforded to them now, and they have a stronger desire to seek out and use other cloud applications such as Salesforce and Service Now, as well as many other business critical applications leading to the reinvestment into enhancing services for our clients.

It has been more than a year since the completion of our migration to the Microsoft Office 365 cloud, and I’m excited to share that there were no unscheduled business disruptions for the organization.  While we were initially excited to jump right in, we took our time behind the scenes to avoid business impacting events, even down to the individual user level.  It was important to us to ensure that our migration didn’t adversely affect our internal customers in any manner, even if it meant an increase to our deployment schedule.

As a result of our “behind the scenes” migration strategy, we not only accomplished our transition goal, but we gained invaluable experience and flexibility to expand services, quickly deploy features, and perform complex acquisition integration tasks almost at-will behind the scenes for the business. Our feedback continues to be positive, and our relationship with our employees and operational teams has only strengthened.

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