Established in 1927, The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) is the largest and oldest apex business organization in India. Headquartered in New Delhi, India, it works closely with the government on policy issues, articulating the private sector’s views, enhancing efficiency, competitiveness and expanding business opportunities for industries through a range of specialized services and global linkages.
FICCI focuses on international networking and interactions and has joint business councils with 79 countries around the world. It has over 2,50,000 companies as members, either directly or via regional chambers of commerce. With more than 7 offices worldwide and 500 employees, it supplements government efforts in 39 industries with a variety of initiatives.
Until March 2012, FICCI was using a web based e-mail service, Rediffmail by Rediff.com. Over the years, the organization identified a number of limitations. Rediffmail was not reliable and availability was the biggest concern. There were problems in log such as slow server response, frequent data loss, slow service response due to server issues. “We at times lost 72 hours per month due to frequent downtime or log on related issues. The poor support in resolving issues was a major concern,” recalls Rajiv Mishra, Additional Director and Head IT, FICCI.
FICCI has access to sensitive and confidential information pertaining to member companies, policy and regulation related information. This makes security extremely important for the organization. Frequent instances of spam and phishing along with data loss were a cause for concern.
From an IT cost and management perspective, the 500 MB mailbox size meant frequent mail backup. This requires IT resources and storage. FICCI would backup and archive Outlook files manually on the SAN (Storage Area Network). Therefore, larger mailbox sizes on the cloud would remove the need for manpower and storage infrastructure at each location.
Since Rediff offered only POP (Post Office Protocol) mail servers, synchronizing emails across devices such as smart phones, server and Microsoft Outlook was another issue.
“As smart phones become ubiquitous, our employees expect email access on any device. This was difficult to provide with our existing messaging solution. We realized, the absence of reliable email communication could paralyze the organization, as it was already hindering our efficiency,” says Rajiv Mishra.
FICCI surveyed the market and shortlisted Google Mail, Lotus Notes and Microsoft Office 365. It checked feasibility based on its requirement and decided on Office 365.
“We prefer Office 365 over others because of its compatibility with existing infrastructure and simple setup for desktop as well as mobile users across platforms including Window, Blackberry, iPhone or Android,” explains Rajiv. “Local Active Directory synchronization and 99.95 percent uptime were other added attractions.”
FICCI chose Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, PC Solutions, as its preferred partner for data migration and implementation of Microsoft Exchange Online. PC Solutions started implementation in April 2012, and within 2 months, it deployed the solution across FICCI’s 12 domestic as well as international offices for over 500 users.
Active Directory Rights Management Services secures data stored at rest in Microsoft data centers. In addition, the on-premises Active Directory authenticates and synchronizes the Global Address List (GAL) and allows single sign-on.
After the initial migration to Office 365, it plans to add another 200 Exchange Online licenses each quarter to stagger operating expenses over the year.
In August 2012, FICCI, with the help of PC Solutions started deploying Microsoft Lync Online, a collaboration tool for 50 users. It realized that Lync could benefit the dispersed teams. Based on the initial success, the company has added another 25 users across the organization.
Teams from different offices now work together with ease, access emails, documents, and calendars from anywhere, and, are confident of a secure business environment. The rich collaboration features permit instant messaging, audio/video calls, and full-feature online meetings with audio, video, and web conferencing.
The subscription based Office 365 services help FICCI reduce capital expenditure, and scheduled periodic payment ensures it manages its operating expenses efficiently. At the same time, it protects business communications and sensitive information by meeting internal and regulatory compliance requirements.
Avoids Capital Investment
The Office 365 saves the organization from capital investment on infrastructure, hardware or software. “The hosted platform helps in reducing CapEx on servers and storage,” states says Rajiv. “Microsoft is responsible for patches, upgrades and maintenance. This minimizes administration, maintenance and hosting related resources and costs. With periodic payment schedule, and pay-as-you-go model enables us to plan our IT spend much more effectively.”
In addition, with online meetings, audio, video, and web conferencing, it also helps saving operating and travelling costs.
With in-built security features, Office 365 guarantees five-level of protection at the data, application, host, network and physical layers. “With Exchange Online, we know our sensitive information is protected, and there is no threat of loss or theft. Employees and management don’t have to worry about crucial business information’s security,” explains Rajiv. In-built antivirus and anti-spam filters protect every email account. Moreover, round-the-clock telephone support in local language further boosts confidence.
Improves Collaboration, Productivity
Office 365 unifies the FICCI offices across the globe. “We now manage increasing email volume across multiple smart devices, and work effectively in dispersed teams,” says Rajiv. Employees collaborate on projects, get up to speed quickly, and share information easily. He continues, “Online presence or the ability to check if someone it at their desk and available, minimizes delays over important decisions and ensures better productivity.”
Guarantees 99.95 Percent Uptime
With real-time communication, FICCI has gained significantly on reliability factor. “While using Rediffmail, we experienced significant downtimes,” says Rajiv. “But Microsoft Office 365 is always available while service level agreement guarantees 99.95 percent uptime, thus resolving unreliability issues.”
Reduces Back up and Storage Management
“Our mailbox storage capacity has now increased to 25 GB for our emails, calendar, and contacts in one place,” informs Rajiv. It gives the flexibility to retain emails and data in the primary mailbox, or move items to an in-place archive. “Flexible and powerful retention policies, allows us to take control of storage and compliance demands thus solving data storage and retention issues.”