As part of the Real World with Cloud Services series, we spoke to Muttia Alkhayyat, Chief Information Officer at UrbaCon General Contracting about why, after adopting Google Apps for Business, UrbaCon switched to Microsoft Office 365. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: Why did you originally make the move to a cloud-based messaging and collaboration solution?
Alkhayyat: We work in a very fast-paced industry. The majority of our workforce operates outside of a traditional office. Whether they’re at a job site or meeting with a prospective customer to review a project proposal, our people need anywhere access to email, documents, and collaboration tools. One of the major challenges for our IT team has been: how do we support a highly mobile and distributed workforce with limited staff and still maintain the highest levels of network security? In 2009, we decided to transition to Google Apps for Business because we thought it would help us quickly scale our email environment—while making it easier for employees to use mobile devices to stay connected to the information they need.
Q: Why did you switch from Google Apps to Office 365?
Alkhayyat: We used Google Apps for approximately two years. And, at first, it seemed to meet our needs. But over time, we realized that its limitations were actually getting in the way of productivity, not facilitating it. For example, Google Mail lacked support for unified communications. Specifically, it did not offer a way to capture both email and voice-mail messages in a single inbox. This meant that executives who were traveling might not be aware of important client calls until they returned to the office. Also, because Google Mail did not work with our Active Directory database, administrators spent up to 10 hours each week manually updating and reconciling user account data.
Q: What benefits are you experiencing by using Office 365?
Alkhayyat: Microsoft Office 365 is a more complete, enterprise-ready solution for our company. Integration between Active Directory and Office 365 gives us much better control of our network infrastructure. Now we can extend the same security policies to email that we use to manage our other critical systems. And, in terms of enabling greater productivity, Office 365 delivers a richer set of capabilities than we ever had with Google Apps. Our people don’t have to worry about compatibility between desktop applications, email, and collaboration tools. They all work together. Plus, with unified messaging through Exchange Online, they can receive email and voice mail all in one place. The availability of our employees, even when they’re on the go, is crucial for the success of our business. Office 365 gives us enterprise-grade tools that work with software we already own, so we can keep our people connected to customers and suppliers at all times.