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Clover rolls out Office 365

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Clover Industries is a branded foods and beverages Group listed on the main board of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
Operating in one form or another since 1898, the Group has enjoyed a long and successful history as part of the development of South Africa’s dairy and fast moving consumer goods industry (FMCG).

Today, Clover is a leading and competitive branded consumer goods and products group operating in South Africa and other selected African countries with core competencies in the production of dairy and non-dairy beverage consumer products.

The Group produces and distributes a diverse range of dairy and consumer products to consumers and customers through one of the largest and most extensive distribution networks in South Africa. The business platform, created and sustained by the dairy business, provides the perfect foundation for the Group to reach an extensive cross section of South African customers and consumers.

This capability spans the breadth of the value chain from production to sales and integrates key value-added support services such as logistics, supply chain management, sales and merchandising.

Challenge
Modern businesses rely on access to dependable and responsive communication tools in order to operate effectively. Without email functionality large enterprises such as Clover would simply not be able to function successfully. The capacity to formally engage with colleagues, suppliers and customers via an electronic platform is absolutely critical to business continuity.

This is the primary challenge Clover faced in late 2011, when its existing on premise Lotus Notes mailbox framework began to limit internal users. Over time the system had become increasingly overloaded, forcing Clover’s internal IT support team to confine employee mailboxes to just 1Gb per seat.

It was at this juncture that the organisation made a critical decision to upgrade. In search of convenience and cost effectiveness the group ultimately opted for a cloud solution – choosing to leave behind its traditional on premise infrastructure roadmap, which would have required significant capital investment to move forward.

Solution
Following considerable investigation into the available options Clover opted to migrate its internal mail infrastructure to Microsoft’s Office 365 platform.

This evaluation hinged on a multitude of factors – primarily the cost effectiveness associated with Microsoft’s cloud offering as a result of Clover’s existing Enterprise agreement with the company, convenience in regard to provisioning new mailboxes and maintaining the framework and access to storage capacity.

In collaboration with long-term Microsoft partner, Ukuvuma Solutions, Clover began migrating strategic clusters within its internal structure onto the Microsoft Office 365 platform. This process commenced towards the end of 2012 and ultimately concluded in July 2013, by which time 2 000 users had been successfully migrated.

In addition to Microsoft’s Office 365 email functionality Clover also makes extensive use of Microsoft Sharepoint, Microsoft Lync and Microsoft OneDrive as part of its E3 Enterprise Agreement.

Benefits
The benefits associated with Clover’s decision to migrate to Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud infrastructure have been considerable, admits Francois Swanepoel – group manager: infrastructure Services.

“The ease of use associated with a cloud platform has been a huge benefit to Clover. Today our employees can simply type their email address and password into their mail platform or browser client and access their e-mail service. Automatic syncing to the cloud has also made it significantly easier to replace or update devices when they are stolen or compromised. It has streamlined our internal IT framework considerably.”

The cost benefit associated with Microsoft Office 365 has also proven extremely beneficial, adds Swanepoel.

“Moving to the cloud is the best thing we ever did from a cost perspective. We are afforded plenty of email storage capacity without having to invest millions in on premise infrastructure and the operational expenses associated with our Microsoft E3 Enterprise Agreement have significantly reduced IT overheads. We are seeing benefits every day. This implementation has also made it easier to motivate moving other parts of our business into a similar framework. It has certainly opened up attitudes towards cloud platforms internally.”

“Initial bandwidth calculations showed that Clover would need 11Mb pipe to connect their 1 900 users,” says Dawid van Heerden, Ukuvuma CEO.

“A competitor argued that this would be 120Mb of international bandwidth. This would have been a deal breaker due to the cost of international bandwidth. We confirmed our calculation and the client went with Office365. After the migration when the mail imports have been completed, the client actually ended up in the region of about 4Mb.”