IT Update: Implementing Office 365

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By: Dan Spruill, Director of IT

Our current email infrastructure, Microsoft Exchange, is now eight years old and in need of replacement. Our company has been growing at a pretty rapid pace, so sizing a system for the next eight years presents some challenges. At the same time, Ruppert has made significant investments in mobile devices over the last two years, with many branches using tablets to help facilitate our work in the field. Microsoft’s Office 365 (O365) solution offers a way for us to upgrade our email system and better leverage our mobile devices. The O365 platform leverages the cloud, making us much less dependent on physical servers maintained in-house. Our “Z” drive (a space on the server that is dedicated to you where you can save important documents) has been backed up nightly, whereas items saved to your desktop, cannot be backed up. This new backup will now be called “One Drive” and will be accessible from any device–phone, tablet, or computer–simply by logging into your account. This means that our personnel out in the field will have access to an expansive range of helpful material while on the job.

Implementing Office 365 greatly widens our capabilities internally and externally. Employees will have access to the newest versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, web-based file storage and file sharing, as well as complete access to their email and calendar. Additional benefits include an online collaborative tool, a web portal called SharePoint, and unlimited online meetings with video conferencing.

We believe this solution provides significant value, as it will enable additional functionality for teams in the field where it is needed most. It will also provide our IT staff with a number of advantages, including the ability to easily scale up to accommodate growth and scale down when seasonal layoffs occur, and the ability to leverage Microsoft’s engineering team to maintain security, servers, and software.

As we know, switching to an entirely new way of doing things after years of using the same application can be tricky, so we are planning to try to make this transition as seamless as possible with better training and user guides. Ideally, using this new solution will allow our company to become more efficient and potentially improve the overall customer experience.