Real World with Cloud Services: Interview with Kent Fuller, Director of IT Infrastructure Services, BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP

As part of the Real World with Cloud Services series, we spoke to Kent Fuller, Director of IT Infrastructure Services at BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP, about why BCBG chose Microsoft Office 365 over Google Apps to manage its messaging and productivity environments. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: Can you tell us a little about BCBGMAXAZRIA?
BCBG offers premier fashion brands for women at more than 13,500 points of sale and in more than 1,200 BCBG stores in 45 countries. We have our headquarters near Los Angeles in Vernon, California, with show rooms in Los Angeles and New York, and we employ 10,000 associates worldwide. Our IT team manages approximately 1,500 PCs and email accounts in our corporate offices, distribution centers, and showrooms, and email for 600 stores in North America.

Q: Why did you want to manage messaging and collaboration with cloud technology?
Fuller: We were still managing email messaging with an internal Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, and most employees still used Microsoft Office 2003. Limited email storage made it difficult for users to send or receive photos and other large attachments, which generated a lot of service requests, and some employees were clamoring for some of the updated capabilities in Office 2010. We wanted to update our messaging and productivity environments while avoiding any large capital expenditures. We are not a technology company and don’t want to invest a lot of capital in IT hardware. We saw cloud computing as a good way to spread costs, pay for what we use as we need it, and make email-infrastructure management somebody else’s responsibility. 

Q: Why did you choose Microsoft Office 365 instead of Google?
Fuller: Starting in 2011, our CIO and several IT employees used Google Apps and Google Mail for six weeks, while four IT employees used Office 365. Initially, we thought that most of our users could get by with Google Apps, but we found that the capabilities in Google were adequate for less than 25 percent of our employees. The rest of the company relied heavily on Office products, and it would have been a huge business disruption if they were to use Google. With Office 365, we had the flexibility to pay for minimal subscriptions for some employees and still provide the full power of Microsoft Office to people who need it. With other major infrastructure projects still to complete, we were also concerned that the unfamiliar Google interface would create training challenges, and we needed something our employees could adopt now. Also, Google Apps had nowhere near the rich functionality that Microsoft Office would provide. We can use Office 365 to deliver an enterprise-level solution that is familiar and easy to use.

Q: What benefits are you experiencing by using Office 365? 
Fuller: Our employees will send and receive email messages faster, have the latest tools to produce better documents, and collaborate more effectively. With Office 365, we can build a more effective, more comprehensive collaboration environment than we could have with Google Apps. We’ve redirected the burden of managing our messaging environment, which lowers costs and frees IT resources to work on important business projects. We have a lot of infrastructure transformation going on, and Google would have introduced many new challenges. With Office 365, I can customize a solution to meet my needs now, and open the door for more movement to the cloud. We can add or delete subscriptions as needed and pay a monthly bill. Basically, we can use Office 365 to build a roadmap to long-term cost savings instead of paying up to [US]$300,000 in upfront expenses.

Read the full story online. For more success stories about people like Kent Fuller at BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP, read other real-world testimonials on the whymicrosoft website.

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