Smaller businesses often have negative experiences with traditional IT systems due to cost and skill restrictions. But a Bunch of Cowboys and a cloud computing approach can help out immensely, as one physical storage company recently found out.
NOT GOOD ENOUGH
For 25-seat storage specialist, Spare Room, self storage, traditional Web-based email and two previous email servers provided less than optimal functionality and pricing. That’s when the company called in systems integrator, Bunch of Cowboys IT, to work out a better solution.
“Initially, they started out with standard POP3 or IMAP email,” Bunch of Cowboys IT director, Dale Harper, explained. “But that quickly becomes untenable for a business environment.
“They understood very clearly the advantages of a business email and collaboration system like Exchange. It’s a ubiquitous, sophisticated and very good email system which had been great for them. But they eventually baulked at that and asked, ‘how can we do this more cheaply? Let’s go open source’. Interestingly, they tried Zimbra.”
Zimbra, which was owned by Yahoo but is now the subject of an acquisition by VMware, was and is an advanced piece of open source software. Initially, the email and collaboration solution seemed suitable, offering advanced features for an attractive upfront cost.
“But it was still expensive because of the need to host your own Exchange infrastructure, the cost of hardware and off-site backups,” Harper said. “Having to worry about that administratively and cost-wise for a company like Spare Room didn’t make sense.”
Eventually, Bunch of Cowboys IT had the opportunity to outline the benefits of moving to Google Apps Premier Edition about 18 months ago. But despite the uncomfortable costs and complex IT work required with the solutions Spare Room experienced, Harper still found the sell to be the most challenging part of the migration process. He highlighted staff and the owner struggled to grasp the concept of cloud.
Being an SMB and thinking of IT as a means to an end, his client was not looking to be an email system pioneer, Harper said.
“This is not a business looking to lead the way for the sake of it. They just really want business benefits and a return on investment,” he said. “In this particular instance, it was all about saying ‘what will take the least amount of effort, what’s the most robust and secure platform and where is the IT momentum, what is everyone else doing’?
“They didn’t care about the technical details, all they wanted to hear was that Google has three copies of their emails floating out on their cloud infrastructure at any one time and that feature for feature, Google Apps Premier Edition is compellingly and clearly competitive compared to established vendors.”