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​Turkey Processor moves To Cloud To Reduce Costs And Increase Productivity

"Alto was the expert we needed to help us move to the cloud. Office 365 helps save time and money, and frees up our IT staff to work on core business technologies."

- IT Manager, Dakota Provisions

Customer and industry
Dakota Provisions, turkey processing

Project
Migrate e-mail to the cloud

Technologies
Microsoft Office 365

Customer profile
Dakota Provisions manufactures poultry and protein products for retail and food service partners. Located at a world-class processing facility in Huron, South Dakota, the company employs 900 associates of which 180 are computer/email users. It expects to grow to 1,000 employees by 2015. Dakota Provisions produces over 320 million pounds of product annually, and is an industry leader in food safety. It was founded in 2004 by a co-op of growers and is dedicated to the heritage and survival of family farmers.

The Challenge

  • Dakota Provisions has 900 employees and expects to grow to 1,000 by 2015. It has 180 computer users with email accounts and was using POP3 for its email platform.
  • Dakota Provisions wanted a solution that would provide the advantages of Microsoft Exchange without the time and expense of deploying on-premise Exchange Servers. It also wanted the email solution to integrate with Active Directory.
  • Dakota Provisions was experiencing decreased productivity with some Microsoft Office compatibility issues.
  • The company has a small IT staff and was looking for a solution that is reliable and easy to deploy, minimizing concerns about equipment failures and ongoing maintenance and support. In addition, Dakota Provisions didn’t want to make a large capital expenditure to upgrade its technology, and had the goal of reducing overall costs.
  • The company was looking for an IT partner that has extensive small and mid-size business experience, deep knowledge of the technology, and extensive experience implementing cloud solutions.

The Solutions

  • After learning about the technical requirements of Dakota Provisions, Alto recommended Microsoft Office 365, a cloud-based, per-user licensing solution that combines familiar Microsoft Office tools with web-enabled communication and collaboration capabilities. Specifically, Alto recommended Office 365’s “E3” plan which includes Exchange Online and Office Professional Plus to meet two of the company’s high-priority needs.
  • Office 365’s E3 plan appealed to Dakota Provisions because it has a flexible, predictable, per-user licensing fee of $20 per user per month allowing the company to scale rapidly-- up and down--and only pay for what it needs.
  • With Office 365’s Exchange Online, Dakota has everything it needs and more:  anywhere-access to email, calendar and contacts; Active Directory integration; 25 GB per mailbox storage and the capability of sending messages up to 25 MB; antivirus and anti-spam filtering for email with Microsoft Forefront Online Protection; 24/7 Microsoft support; and a geo-redundant infrastructure.
  • Dakota Provisions’ Office 365 plan includes Office Pro Plus, which has the same applications as MS Office Professional Plus 2010 client suite and enables users to work online or offline.
  • Dakota Provision’s Office 365 plan also includes SharePoint Online, Lync Online, and Office Web Apps
  • SharePoint Online will Alto conducted an inventory of desktops/notebooks and Servers/SANs (the type and quantity) and Hyper-V Hosts, and provided both technical and non-technical documentation.  Alto recommended ideal and next-best options for virtualizing physical servers and detailed the features and benefits of Hyper-V in Microsoft Windows Server 2012 compared with Dakota’s current Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V infrastructure.
  • With Lync Online, users can instant message each other and have online meetings with PC-audio, video conferencing and screen sharing. The IT team can also assist employees and share desktops through Lync Online.
  • Office Web Apps is the online companion to Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint and applications, and enables users to access documents and edit documents via online mobile devices and personal computers by using a web browser.
 

The process 

  • To prepare for the Office 365 installation, Alto conducted technical pre-planning and discovery, which included reviewing the existing environment (servers, operating system, bandwidth, Active Directory, hardware, and software) and cutover to Exchange Cloud.
  • Alto changed all DNS mail related settings, and mentored and oriented the IT staff to Office 365’s web-based management console to enable them to automate tasks and centrally manage accounts.
  • Alto deployed Active Directory Federation Services to enable single sign-on so employees only need to maintain one user name and password. A part of AD Federation Services is Office 365 Directory Sync, which updates the Office 365 user and configuration information automatically any time changes are made in AD.
  • Alto migrated a small number of test mailboxes to evaluate the process and mail flow, and the client did the full migration.
  • Dakota Provisions enlisted Alto's services to integrate the email capabilities of full functioning printers (scan to email) and SAP applications to Exchange Online.

IT staff benefits from lower costs, more time, and peace of mind 

  • After moving to Office 365, the client can focus on higher priority projects and applications for the core business rather than system maintenance and constant “help desk” requests. By moving to Office 365, it always has the current version of Microsoft’s products, no longer worries about patches and updates (Microsoft takes care of all of the dirty work on this), and doesn’t have to budget for upgrades.
  • The IT staff has peace of mind because Microsoft provides 24/7 live  IT-level support to all users, and Office 365 has a financially backed 99.9% uptime guarantee.

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