Cloudforce: Workforce Utilization in the Cloud
Background Cloudforce, a leader in Microsoft cloud consulting, began its mission to leverage the power of the cloud to build awesome things and make lives better in Virginia in 2010, before...
Operating across six states from northern Maine to southern West Virginia, Pittsburgh-based Anderson Equipment has offered sales, rental, parts, and service for heavy duty equipment from multiple manufacturers since 1935. Given its vast operational territory and the many different skill sets of its end user base, Anderson’s most critical IT imperative was to provide its workforce secure connectivity to all corporate resources so they could communicate with customers and vendors from the office, on a customer site, or while working remotely.
Prior to cloud migration, Anderson IT was strictly on-premises, with all the administrative redundancies, costs, scalability, and security issues onsite IT entailed. As an Outlook/Exchange 2010 shop, Anderson was also facing the costly prospect of having to invest in and maintain newer supported versions of these resources.
In 2019, following extensive analysis and assessment, Anderson chose cloud computing architecture as the ideal option to modernize operations and optimize network availability, remote access, and scalability. Anderson leadership saw that moving to a cloud-based solution would also eliminate compliance concerns and free up Anderson’s talented IT staff to pursue higher value activities. Despite all of these advantages, however, there was concern Anderson lacked the expertise to ensure a successful migration on their own.
GOAL 1: CLOUD MIGRATION
GOAL 2: MODERNIZATION
GOAL 3: IMPROVE SECURE ACCESS
At the recommendation of a longtime vendor, Anderson partnered with Cloudforce for their migration. Cloudforce began with its signature deep-dive into Anderson’s environment, including how they work, how system access was granted, what protections were in place, and what they faced in the past. Cloudforce then designed a multi-phase plan with critical timelines.
In preparation for migration, Cloudforce first ensured Anderson user identities were properly registered in Office 365 and that all licenses were compliant and up to date. Next Cloudforce pursued a hybrid migration path. This entailed synching user accounts and groups from the on-prem Anderson Active Directory to Azure-based Active Directory, and then setting up a hybrid relationship between the on-prem Exchange server and Exchange online.
With a hybrid relationship in place, Anderson users would now receive email service from both the on-prem server and Exchange Online at the same time as part of a unified email system. In addition, IT staff responsible for administrative tasks that would normally be done on-premises—such as password resets or user account issues—could still manage these tasks from the same place as before. With user identities syncing to Azure AD, all changes made on-premises would now also be reflected in the Microsoft cloud, eliminating the need to re-do these admin tasks in their cloud environment.
“Our CEO considers what Cloudforce and Anderson have done together to be a competitive advantage.”
James Corrao Director IT
With the Exchange Migration now complete, Anderson’s cloud-based email system has helped them become a more agile, forward-thinking enterprise instead of operating with a break/fix approach. By embracing modernization, Anderson now benefits from all the advantages of email within the Microsoft cloud, particularly Microsoft’s enhanced security and the convenience and cost-savings of licensing flexibility. Additionally, through the implementation of multi-factor authentication, Anderson now commands complete control of remote access, and the Anderson IT Department can be confident each licensed user is getting the latest and greatest release of Microsoft Office.
“They came and spent two days with us and learned about our business—really learned about us. What they came back with was anything but cookie-cutter. They put together a custom migration plan, built around phases of implementation.”
James Corrao Director IT
“The one word that describes Cloudforce? Professionalism,” Corrao summarized. “I have been impressed with all the people who have worked with us … their professionalism, availability, knowledge. It’s almost like the individuals who have been working on the project have become pseudo-Anderson employees because you really do need to become part of the organization to understand its goals, its culture, how people do things in order to provide the best solution. Their communication skills are exceptional—that is critical. All of Anderson is better today because of the efforts that Cloudforce contributed.”