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Microsoft Provides New Outlook On Lean IT

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 6:37am

Barry-Wehmiller Companies, Inc. is a U.S. $1 billion global provider of manufacturing equipment and services. The company’s employees rely on up-to-date messaging technology to conduct business with partners and customers around the world. Barry-Wehmiller wanted to upgrade to Microsoft® Exchange Server 2007 e-mail messaging and collaboration software. However, in light of tough global economic conditions and a corporate culture that promotes a “Lean” organization, the IT department re-evaluated the cost of deploying an on-premises solution. Instead, Barry-Wehmiller chose Microsoft Online Services to deliver all the scalability, security, and functionality the company needs for desktop and mobile e-mail. The hosted communications and collaboration solution saved Barry-Wehmiller $200,000 in hardware and infrastructure costs, as well as another $100,000 on an archiving solution. 

Situation

The Barry-Wehmiller Machinery Company began in 1885 in St. Louis, Missouri, when Thomas J. Barry opened a machine shop to provide conveying and transportation equipment to area malt houses. Today, Barry-Wehmiller Companies is a leader in four areas of expertise—packaging automation equipment, corrugating and sheeting equipment, paper converting equipment, and IT and engineering consulting. It operates nine divisions around the world, including Accraply (labeling machinery), HayssenSandiacre (packaging systems), PneumaticScaleAngelus (bottle fillers, cappers, and can seamers), FleetwoodGoldcoWyard (conveyor systems, bottle washers, and pasteurizers), Thiele Technologies (packaging systems), MarquipWardUnited (corrugated equipment), and Paper Converting Machine Company (paper converting equipment). Other Barry-Wehmiller units offer IT, engineering, and design consulting services.

Barry-Wehmiller Companies, Inc. has conducted a series of strategic acquisitions over the past two decades, which, in combination with its organic growth initiatives, has proven to be a highly successful business strategy. “Over the last 20 years, we have made 45 acquisitions, bringing every company onboard and helping them to achieve success through our people-centric business culture,” says Craig Hergenroether, Chief Information Officer at Barry-Wehmiller Companies, Inc. “As a result, we have grown consistently at a rate of 20 percent per year.”

A big challenge for the 110-member IT department supporting this global business is providing technology and services that support its corporate culture. The company adheres firmly to a management style that fosters leadership and encourages employees to apply and develop their talents in support of a common corporate vision. As part of its “Lean Enterprise” initiatives, Barry-Wehmiller aims to deliver reliable, user-friendly, and up-to-date IT applications and services to its employees to maximize their productivity and fulfillment, at minimal expense.

“From an IT standpoint, we believe that the only computer equipment we need is what is necessary for a person to do his or her job,” says Hergenroether. “We’ve never seen the value of maintaining our own data centers. Today’s economic downturn caused us to take a good, hard look at where we are on the path of getting down to maintaining just the right level of servers that we need.”

“The notion of moving servers outside is also appealing because of our culture, which embraces employee fulfillment,” adds Mike Kelly, Application Development Director at Barry-Wehmiller Companies, Inc. “Our IT department is a case in point: We have very low staff turnover. Consequently, staff members have had time to develop valuable business acumen, and we would rather have them apply that knowledge to working with our divisions and delivering IT services with direct business value than changing tapes and managing servers.”

Recently, the IT department was asked to consolidate servers at its St. Louis and Green Bay, Wisconsin, data centers. It was also planning to migrate from Microsoft® Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2007 messaging and collaboration software so employees could have the latest communication tools to stay productive. The company maintained more than 4,500 mailboxes and many shared public folders, which put pressure on the company’s existing storage area network solution. Some employees were frustrated by limits imposed on their e-mail storage. Additionally, the company had no e-mail archiving solution. These problems were exacerbated by the growing number of mailboxes required to support new employees following a recent series of acquisitions. Barry-Wehmiller needed to find a search-enabled e-mail archive solution.

“While we are a privately held company, our board of directors asks us to abide by the best practices in e-mail management that are required of publicly held companies,” says Hergenroether. “Our ability to archive and search e-mails is commensurate with those best practices.”

Taking these directives within the context of the company’s Lean initiatives and people-centric corporate culture, Hergenroether began thinking about alternatives to building an on-premises solution. “E-mail has become a commodity IT service that’s mission critical to our global operations, from conducting everyday business to bringing new companies into the fold,” says Hergenroether. “A high percentage of our workforce relies on mobile access to their mail. We wanted to upgrade our messaging platform, but we didn’t want to add more servers and IT maintenance to the mix. We decided to look at more cost-effective options that wouldn’t sacrifice functionality, reliability, or security, but would save us time and money.”

Solution

Barry-Wehmiller Companies found its solution in the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite. The suite offers hosted communication and collaboration services that include Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint® Online, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, and Microsoft Office Communications Online. However, it was Exchange Online that piqued the company’s interest.

With Microsoft Online Services, Barry-Wehmiller can take advantage of a Microsoft Exchange–based e-mail solution that provides employees access to e-mail, calendars, and contacts from any Internet-connected personal computer, laptop, or mobile device for a low monthly subscription fee. Because Microsoft hosts and manages the servers, Barry-Wehmiller does not have to invest in hardware or the administrative support required to run solutions in-house and enjoys 99.9 percent uptime guaranteed by financially-backed service level agreements. The solution also works seamlessly with the company’s fleet of Windows Mobile® phones. 

“We looked at other hosted offerings, but we preferred the assurance of a secure, reliable messaging solution from Microsoft that’s compatible with the e-mail used by our partners and customers,” says Hergenroether. “And as a Lean organization, the fewer vendors we have in the mix, the more streamlined and cost effective our operations.”

The IT department also wanted to continue with its strategies for providing interoperable collaboration and communications solutions for Barry-Wehmiller employees. The company used Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 for its intranet and Microsoft Office Standard and Professional Plus 2007 for its desktop productivity software. “We already had Microsoft technologies in place that help employees work together, and e-mail tends to be a central factor in those communications,” says Kelly. “It made no sense to throw a different messaging solution into this infrastructure.”

Another factor in the company’s decision to use Microsoft Online Services was the benefit of accessing the rich Microsoft partner network to help the company prepare for its first foray into a hosted services scenario. Barry-Wehmiller turned to Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Horizons Consulting. “Horizons is an outstanding partner, and we felt like we had direct access into Microsoft itself,” says Hergenroether.

Horizons provided a full, on-site analysis of the steps required for Barry-Wehmiller to migrate its entire Exchange Server 2003 messaging infrastructure to Exchange Online. This included inventorying every fax machine and copier that used e-mail, as well as ensuring that relationships with third parties, such as the company’s travel agency that makes online bookings for company executives, would work within the hosted environment. Horizon suggested that Barry-Wehmiller take advantage of the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Deskless Worker Suite, which includes Exchange Online Deskless Worker, a streamlined version of Exchange Online at less cost per seat. Initially, these seats will be used to migrate some of the shared folders from its existing Exchange Server 2003 environment, but the company envisions later using them to communicate about health plans and other corporate communications to employees on the factory floor.

“Horizons helped us document and develop the migration process and create a communication plan for our user community,” says Hergenroether. “Because we are starting with a pilot project in the IT department, we also needed to take into account issues around working in a mixed online and on-premises messaging environment.”

The company signed up for 4,000 Exchange Online seats and 500 Exchange Online Deskless Worker seats in July 2009. For the pilot project, the IT department migrated 19 IT staff members to Exchange Online, conducting the migration during a workday and keeping employee disruption to a minimum. “It was simply a matter of timing,” says Hergenroether. “We sent a message to the individual saying, ‘Don’t use your mailbox for the next 20 minutes,’ and then we migrated their mailboxes to the online environment. It took longer to synchronize back to their laptops and mobile devices, but during that time they simply used Office Outlook® Web Access from their desktop computer to continue with their business communications.”

The positive experience during the pilot means the company has now developed a game plan to move ahead with the rest of the rollout, first at its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, and then for the rest of its globally dispersed employees.

Benefits

Microsoft Online Services helped Barry-Wehmiller Companies move forward with its strategic business goals and Lean IT initiatives—upgrade to Exchange Server 2007, free up space in its data centers, and implement a storage and e-mail archiving solution—all for a low, per-user subscription fee. The solution supports the corporate culture at Barry-Wehmiller by providing the latest enterprise-level messaging tools that its people need to be productive, fulfilled employees. At the same time, it helps the company move ahead with its Lean initiatives by offering business-class service level agreements and 99.9 percent uptime at reduced costs. With Online Services, Barry-Wehmiller has the opportunity to boost business agility through a suite of easily deployed, always updated, scalable communication and collaboration technologies.

Reducing Costs to Build a Lean Enterprise

By choosing a Microsoft Online Services delivery model, Barry-Wehmiller is saving money on a number of fronts. With Exchange Online, the company doesn’t have to contend with large capital expenditures for upgrading to the latest Microsoft messaging solution. “We are saving approximately $200,000 over the next four years by not deploying an on-premises messaging solution,” says Hergenroether. “And we can avoid future unknown costs of archiving, data protection, and managing the growth of mailbox sizes. With Exchange Online, we have flexible, pooled storage options where we assign anywhere from 256 megabytes to 25 gigabytes of storage to individual users’ mailboxes. This means we don’t have to pay $100,000 for an archiving solution, and we can defer planned storage expansion costs of approximately $150,000.”

The company is also saving thousands of dollars by not having to purchase new servers or pay for other infrastructure costs, which also contributes to reducing the hardware in its St. Louis and Green Bay data centers. “With Microsoft Online Services, we can make progress toward our goal to downsize the amount of hardware we must manage internally,” says Kelly. “Certainly, in the IT department we are relieving a lot of people of mundane server maintenance and getting better value out of their expertise working with our divisions rather than paying for our IT staff to manage the server part of our messaging infrastructure; all that gets passed over to Microsoft.”

Empowering Employees to Drive Productivity

Barry-Wehmiller can use Online Services to boost its corporate culture of empowering employees. “With Microsoft Online Services, we can cut our data center costs and gain rock-solid disaster recovery, security, and server management services. Now we can focus on our people and not our technology,” says Hergenroether.

And by taking advantage of the less expensive option of Exchange Online Deskless Worker, the company can assign mailboxes to factory floor associates, where it was cost prohibitive to do so previously. “There were certain users who would not have been granted a license for Exchange before, but today, we can give them access to e-mail, amounting to about $50,000 in annual licensing savings,” says Kelly. “That means floor associates can keep up with corporate notices regarding their health plans or other Human Resources communications. Anytime we can deploy a tool to our employees that adds to the quality of their work experience we see it as a good thing.”

The company’s philosophy of providing tools that are always available to all people at all times is easier to bring to life with a reliable hosted e-mail service. Because Microsoft is now responsible for server maintenance, the company is also expecting that employees’ productivity will no longer be affected by mail service interruptions. “E-mail is mission critical for us, and we are no longer going to see downtime associated with upgrading our server hardware or software because Microsoft takes care of that,” says Hergenroether. “As for disaster recovery or unplanned downtime, we have been working toward consolidating our two data centers, but what Microsoft can offer goes way beyond our capabilities in-house.”

Building Business Agility for Long-Term Growth

Because the IT department no longer has to worry about maintaining expertise on Exchange Server 2007 administration, the company can more easily execute the corporate acquisitions that are key to its expansion.

“With Microsoft Online Services, the process of acquisition can be more predictable in terms of costs,” says Hergenroether. “It’s a simple calculation—for example, if I’m going to pay $8 per month for a mailbox, and I’m adding 200 new employees, this will be my messaging cost. I no longer have to figure out how many servers I need, how much memory, how I’m going to do backups, what kind of connectivity and bandwidth I need, and the IT staff resources required.”

“With hosted e-mail services, we have all the agility and scalability we need to add employees at any time, and our operational costs will be more predictable and easier to track,” Hergenroether continues. “That’s going to be a long-term benefit going forward.”

For More Information:

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about Horizons Consulting, Inc. products and services, call (800) 499-4110 or visit the Web site at:
www.hrizns.com

For more information about Barry-Wehmiller Companies, Inc. products and services, call (314) 862-8000 or visit the Web site at:
www.barry-wehmiller.com

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