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Case study: Microsoft and Spicers Canada
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Case study: Microsoft and Spicers Canada 

The Business Problem

Paperlinx, an international paper distributor, owns Spicers Canada. The Canadian company was under the same software licensing agreements as Paperlinx’s U.S. affiliates until over a year ago. At that point, Paperlinx sold those businesses. That move forced Spicers Canada to disentangle its software licenses from its former American associates. In addition, the Canadian company also needed to migrate its cloud-based IT infrastructure from a North America-wide platform to a space just for Spicers Canada.

The Solution

Spicers Canada’s IT chief Jeff Ardielli chose a number of solutions from Microsoft to meet the firm’s needs. Ardielli and his team deployed Office 365, Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V, Windows Intune, Volume Licensing, the Windows 8 phone, the Microsoft Surface, and Windows 7. At press time, the company was testing Windows 8.1. “They were all standalone projects with their own project plan and approvals but had an overall vision with a comprehensive IT strategic plan that was provided to executives in which it outlined the benefits, risks and ROI of each and every project,” Ardielli commented.

Implementation

The Canadian paper distributor chose Microsoft partner VI Professional Solutions Inc. to implement the products it needed. Its implementation process took approximately four months. VI Professional Solutions Inc. leveraged centralized Microsoft licenses with a volume license agreement. They received proof-of-concepts (POCs) from Microsoft to implement Hyper-V. Ardielli pointed out that after implementing Hyper-V, Spicers Canada reduced the number of servers from 30 to three. Intune and SharePoint were deployed to facilitate collaboration between employees and the company’s partners. Ardielli shared Spicers Canada’s plans for further implementations. “Current next steps will be to implement a comprehensive BYOD program and provide mobility for the sales force with centralized access via tablet and/or Windows Phones to SharePoint services,” he said.

Lessons Learned and Best Practices

Ardielli acknowledged that the company learned several lessons during the implementation. One of those lessons was that documentation about the implementation process must always be completed. “Most of these documents highlighted internal processes/improvements that needed to be changed for future implementations,” he remarked. “The improvements made for future implementation were focused around better communication with stakeholders during implementation and, whenever possible, deploy global changes in stages (one site at a time) to minimize bandwidth issues/delays on Spicers MPLS network.”

Spicers Canada’s IT chief believes Microsoft and VI Professional Solutions Inc. played a significant role in shaping the best practices of this implementation. “Discovering Microsoft best practices were driven by the leadership provided by VI Professional Solutions Inc. and also by following Microsoft documentations,” Ardielli stated. “A successful delivery of these projects couldn’t have happened without the binder of these 2 factors.” He added that Microsoft offers the TechNet library online, a repository of white papers and articles on best practices as well as other helpful documentation can be found.

Benefits

The paper distribution company has reaped a number of benefits due to the implementation of Microsoft technology. One advantage was that hard costs have been reduced by 60%. In addition, consolidating software licenses saved Spicers Canada even more money. It also simplified software management.

As a result of migrating the business’ cloud-based platforms to Windows Servers with Hyper-V and reducing the number of on-site servers, Spicers Canada was able to repurpose some of the machines to house its disaster recovery operation based in Montreal. In the event of a major system disruption in Toronto, the Montreal recovery system will take over.

Windows Intune, Microsoft’s PC and mobile device manager, enables Spicers Canada to track and monitor all devices in the cloud, regardless of their manufacturer or platform. The administration console also provides the capability to lock and protect devices if they are lost.

Microsoft’s solutions have enhanced Spicers Canada’s employees’ mobility. Everyone can access company resources from any device, anywhere at any time with Office 365.

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