For years, a friend of mine owned the same old, 28-inch CRT television set. Whenever I’d go over to his house, I’d tease him about it. “Why don’t you upgrade?” I’d ask, shaking my head at his outdated tube.

His answer was always the same: “What’s the point?” he’d say. “My TV may not be high-definition and it may be bulky. But I can watch everything I want. Getting a special cable subscription and digital cable box just isn’t worth the hassle.”

A couple months ago, I walked into my friend’s house and was shocked to find that old TV replaced by a brand new, flat-screen HDTV. My friend smiled at the surprised look on my face.  “As you know, the Cricket World Cup is about to start, and that means I can no longer compromise on resolution,” he said, laughing. “I upgraded because I finally had a rock-solid business case.”

Just like the Cricket World Cup gave my friend the business case he needed, the advent of the cloud offers businesses an added incentive to upgrade to the Microsoft platform at the same time that they migrate to the cloud. It gives them a rock-solid business case.

Take the case of Kellwood Company, one of the largest apparel manufacturers in the U.S.  For 10 years, the company had been using IBM Lotus Notes despite many employees’ complaints that the messaging system was out of date. Why? Because management felt it wasn’t necessary to upgrade as long as it was working. 

But during a recent restructuring, Kellwood’s CIO Charles Pritzl had a new argument to make: He could save the company money by moving e-mail to a hosted service. “Per user, Lotus Notes costs me three times as much as Microsoft,” he said. “It’s hard to argue with numbers like that.” Suddenly, he had a rock-solid business case.

The benefits of moving to Microsoft Online Services while simultaneously migrating its messaging system to the cloud have been many. Migrating to Microsoft Online Services has saved Kellwood  55 percent over continuing with Lotus Notes, mainly in reduced licensing and support expenses according to Pritzl. In addition, the company has reduced day-to-day maintenance, freeing valuable IT staff to focus on more strategic initiatives. What’s more, Kellwood has improved productivity by making web conferencing and e-mail available to employees across the organization anytime, anywhere. It has also gained a searchable e-mail archive and a more secure way to reduce inbox sizes, according to Pritzl.

Did your organization migrate to the Microsoft platform and move to the cloud at the same time? Please share your experience.