March 14, 2014
Washington's food pantry has huge IT needs
Providing nutritious food to hungry people in the state of Washington in a manner that respects their dignity is the heart and passion of Northwest Harvest. As the demand for their services and resources escalated over the years, Northwest Harvest’s two-man IT department struggled to keep up.
As David Coe, the IT manager at Northwest Harvest, started looking into server upgrade options with CCB, his account manager encouraged him to consider Office 365 as a solution. In comparing the costs and benefits of the cloud to on-premise server options, David saw that Office 365’s infrastructure provided the redundancies and malware filtering necessary for an agency of their size and at a reasonable price they could afford.
Now David has seen first-hand the timesaving and work-efficient benefits of moving to the cloud. “While from an IT manager perspective it is scary to give up the hardware and software, there is no doubt in my mind that making this move [to Office 365] was in the best interest of our agency from a financial and staff support perspective,” David said.
Together, CCB and Microsoft helped make David’s transition to the cloud seamless. First, CCB gave Northwest Harvest the opportunity to test Office 365 with a free trial, which helped prepare each user for the new IT environment. “My account representative took the time to really show off Office 365 and was able to give us a really rich demonstration,” David explained. CCB then managed the entire migration process, moving their old on-premise Exchange infrastructure to the cloud with ease.
Before Office 365, David spent most of his time monitoring and resolving issues stemming from antiquated hardware and software. “Whenever you do an upgrade, whenever you’re managing software, there’s always a lot of time and planning put into it. When you own hardware and software, everything’s got to be done in house,” David explained.
“With the Office 365 subscription, Microsoft is able to provide the IT staff with technicians that take care of anything that breaks, if it breaks. You don’t have to worry about the cost of the software, the cost or the time of the actual upgrade, the backups or redundancies tied to it. That frees us up to do what we want to do, and that is analyze cost savings, support our staff, and make sure things are running well within our agency.”
Office 365 has additionally helped Northwest Harvest – a statewide organization – connect from remote locations. Rather than traveling to meet within the agency, the implementation of Skype for Business has provided video conferencing capabilities. Skype for Business’s reliability and ease of use combined with the ability to instant message and share screens has helped Northwest Harvest improve communication throughout the organization.
Storing documents in the cloud through SharePoint and OneDrive allows everyone within the organization to access information anytime, from anywhere, without having to trust in an unreliable on-premise server.
“If one location goes down, you shut down your whole operation – not a good situation when almost half your staff is at remote locations from Seattle. By being able to go into the cloud, you do have those natural redundancies. You’re able to go down in one location, yet the email doesn’t stop flowing. Other locations are still able to get their email.”
By having Northwest Harvest to the cloud, David has helped his organization save time and money. “For the cost of one service in the cloud, I’m saving money and gaining three additional services,” David said. When he considers all the server maintenance now taken care of by Microsoft, including managing backups, software upgrades, and power redundancies David sees his cost savings as a “no-brainer.”
“CCB has gone the extra mile to do their best to get us the best savings,” David said, “my account rep blew the socks off of all the other bids out there.”
Find out more about Northwest Harvest at www.northwestharvest.org.