The VELOSI Group, founded in 1982, provides Asset Integrity, Health, Safety and Environment (HSE), Quality Assurance, Quality Control and Engineering services to a number of leading national and multinational oil and gas companies, including BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, ADNOC, PETRONAS, PetroBras, ONGC, and Chevron.
The Velosi Group operates globally through five regional headquarters in the USA, the UK, Malaysia, South Africa, and the UAE and has 63 offices in 36 countries worldwide.
Velosi is a fast-growing engineering company with 63 offices in 36 countries. They were rapidly outgrowing their in-house email and intranet servers, which were struggling to cope with a growing headcount. They also needed to support a worldwide workforce and, of course, keep costs under control.
Velosi worked with Connexion, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, to implement a solution using Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft SharePoint Online.
The new system has proved easier to manage with fewer IT staff. It provides easy, reliable access for staff around the world, including smartphone support. Above all, it has helped Velosi to cope with rapid growth while, at the same time, cutting costs compared with the in-house alternative.
Velosi is a 700-person, global engineering company that focuses on quality assurance, mainly in the oil, gas and utilities. For example, if an oil company buys a large piece of equipment for an oilrig, they hire Velosi to inspect it and make sure it will work as advertised.
The company started in the early 1980s and has grown very rapidly since then. To tame its “higgledy-piggledy IT systems,” Martin Coles, Velosi’s Technical Development Director, consolidated its IT systems, including Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint servers, so that they ran from a UK data centre rather than dozens of different systems in different countries. While this approach worked well for around 150 users, by the time they reached 300 employees, “we realised that our servers just weren’t coping and that it was time to change.”
The company was experiencing poor performance and outages. The servers were reaching the end of their service lives and they had been scaled to serve a much smaller workforce. The result? Instability, unreliability and increasing costs.
To replace such as a system, Velosi needed something new that would guarantee uptime, reliability and worldwide access without performance hiccups and slowdowns. Coles also looked for something that was simple and easy to manage in order to keep the IT overhead costs as low as possible.
Velosi approached Connexion, Connexion is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner based in Reading, near their UK regional head office. Connexion proposed Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft SharePoint online and as well as a fully managed migration service for users and existing SharePoint sites. This would give Velosi the latest versions of tools that they were already using but without the cost and management overhead of hosting the servers themselves (or paying someone else to co-locate them in a share data centre).
Cost was an important factor in the decision. Coles:
"We looked at the capital cost of buying new hardware in-house and the rapidly increasing cost of staff to maintain it and our projections for future growth."
They didn’t like what they saw.
On the one hand, there was the risk of underprovisioning and buying less hardware than they might need if they grew faster than expected. After all, this had happened once already. On the other hand, there was the expensive risk of overprovisioning and buying too much stuff ‘just in case’. Taking a five-year view, one approach looked risky, the other expensive.
The Microsoft cloud alternative began to look more and more attractive. Costs would rise in direct proportion to headcount and there was, effectively, no limit to growth. It also promised to be cheaper than buying hardware in-house. Finally, thanks to Microsoft’s global presence, service level agreements, and multi-national data centres, it promised better availability and performance than a system located in one data centre in one country.
Ultimately, the choice was easy and Velosi selected Exchange Online for email and SharePoint Online for collaboration and document management. Connexion migrated all their users’ Exchange accounts and their SharePoint sites, while also upgrading them to the latest version of SharePoint.
The benefits were immediate and substantial:
Easier to manage
“We’ve reduced the number of people working on email,” says Coles. This has allowed them to defer hiring new IT staff and reassign existing staff to more interesting and useful roles.
With 63 offices in 36 countries, employees can now access the email and documents from Microsoft’s servers over the internet rather than using a congested VPN connection to Velosi’s data centre. “It’s also a security benefit,” says Coles, “Because we have fewer holes in our firewall now.”
Exchange Online supports popular smartphones, including Blackberry and Apple iPhone, without any additional hardware or software and it is very easy for users to set up their phones.
“We doubled the number of mailboxes and nobody blinks,” says Coles. Exchange Online can scale up easily and copes hundreds of mailboxes as easily as it manages a handful.
Replacing the three original servers would have cost Velosi approximately £80,000 with licensing. Compared with the three-year cost of deploying Exchange Online and SharePoint Online for the number of users they had then, the company saved £10,000. But when you add in the savings in support, maintenance, staff and everything else, it could be much more. For example, Coles thinks that he has been able to save the cost of a full-time IT person at about £30,000 a year for three years