The impending end of Windows Server 2003 support from Microsoft has helped sports shoe specialist Vivobarefoot to embark on a cloud migration path that is having considerable benefits at its offices in London and China.
It is now under three months to the end of Windows Server 2003, but Vivobarefoot embarked on a strategy to move away from the platform last year, enlisting the support of IT consultancy Netstar for help with the project.
The move prompted a complete update of the firm’s IT use, as head of operations Damian Peat (pictured) explained to V3.
“We were previously working with some pretty archaic systems. We had three servers in our basement all running Windows Server 2003 and backed up to tape, and I would worry a lot about the chance of something not working,” he said.
As part of the decision to move from Window Server 2003, Vivobarefoot turned to the cloud and Office 365. Primarily, this was for email, but the company is now using other Microsoft tools in the cloud as part of this suite.
This is especially beneficial as Vivobarefoot had a mixed estate of machines - Windows PCs and Macs - and numerous smartphones as part of a bring your own device policy.
“Having everyone on the same version of Office, Outlook, Excel, is a real benefit and makes life a lot easier,” Peat added.
Peat also explained how embracing the cloud has made life much easier for staff in China, especially when trying to coordinate shared data with workers at the London office.
“One of the big things was to get something that would work well here and in China. Gmail was used by the team in China, for example, but it was very sporadic and sometimes wouldn’t be available,” he said.
“With Office 365, though, we can ensure everyone can see the same documents and access them whenever they need, which is really beneficial.”
Peat explained that there were often major problems when trying to work from documents hosted on the company’s servers in London, as the slow internet connections meant that staff were not always working from the same data.
“You had the London head of logistics and the China head of logistics updating documents with new information, only to discover that it hadn’t synced so they’d been looking at the wrong numbers and had to start all over again,” Peat said.
“Now, they are using OneDrive for Business and they know that when they update information it is saved and synced automatically, which is a real bonus.”
Peat explained that the migration from on-premise servers to cloud-based software and systems had encouraged the company to seek other forms of cloud systems to use, such as for enterprise resource planning.
However, he said that one remaining challenge is that the office is not served by very good broadband, despite being in Farringdon in central London.
As a result the company had to undertake "considerable testing" to ensure that its infrastructure could handle yet more resources in the cloud.
“It’s ridiculous that we are based in the heart of the city and can’t get good internet,” he added.
Nonetheless, given the success of the move to Office 365, it seems that Vivobarefoot, like others such as Peterborough City Council and Eurostar, are all turning to the cloud as a way to boost business efficiency.
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