V8 Supercars has adopted Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 software suite to replace its archaic on-premises productivity tools.
The company, which organises V8 Supercars races across the world, had been using Microsoft Exchange 2003 and Microsoft Office products hosted on its own servers, but it was evident that the old systems weren't up to scratch anymore. The infrastructure had been left to rot for a long time, causing delays and outages when staff were trying to email each other or access shared files, according to V8 Supercars director of finance and IT Peter Trimble.
"As the guy at the end of the day where the buck stopped on systems performance, I felt ashamed with the time I was causing our people to waste, and level of ineffectiveness on regular occasions that actually impacted their jobs," he told ZDNet.
Trimble called in IT consultancy firm Sinapse to look into the issue, and it came back with a recommendation to migrate to Office 365. The suite includes Microsoft Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, and Office Web Apps.
"Our hardware and infrastructure was getting quite out of date, and we had to make a decision whether to reinvest in new servers and the like or not," he said. "Office 365 let us avoid the need to make that investment."
V8 Supercars has around 70 full-time staff, along with hundreds of volunteers and contractors. A pilot program for Office 365 was introduced last year after several weeks of planning. An internal systems issue, which Trimble initially blamed on the cloud-based productivity suite, caused a lengthy delay in the implementation process that eventually took two months to complete.
SharePoint, while still in the early stages of being integrated into the business, was particularly useful for V8 Supercars staff members, since their jobs require frequent file sharing and collaboration with each other.
"SharePoint was very interesting to us, because previously we had to use shared drives by logging in through our somewhat outdated system," he said. Only a small group of early adopters within the organisation are using the product now, but V8 Supercars is planning on a wide-scale implementation, according to Trimble. It plans to do the same with Lync.
So far, all of V8 Supercars' full-time staff and a handful of contractors are on Microsoft Office 365 through the organisation's own IT environment. The feedback has been tremendously positive, Trimble said.
Considering the hard cost of going with Office 365 and the hard cost of keeping its old systems running on par with each other, the productivity benefits of the cloud-based offering are well worth the money, Trimble said.
While he did have some concerns about going with a cloud-based service, Trimble's fears were allayed by his trust in the Microsoft brand.
"If Microsoft can't make it work, then who can?" he said. "That might be a bit naive, but at the end of the day, that came into the equation, along with the advice from Sinapse and other people I spoke with.
"We took the risk with the cloud and we haven't looked back — we've been comfortable and relaxed with it so far."