Governments are moving to cloud computing to reap immense benefits.  In today’s post we hear from the Municipio de Humacao on why Microsoft cloud solutions were the city’s best choice for email and collaboration! 

“The Google programs simply weren’t easy to use. We had setup, connection, and usability problems. And for the city, the Google solution did not offer the security that we needed. Some city offices actually forbade us to use Google.”

Evelyn Howe, Information System Administrator, Municipio de Humacao, Puerto Rico

Municipio de Humacao
Founded in 1793, Municipio de Humacao is a coastal city in eastern Puerto Rico with a population of about 62,000 people. Its economy has evolved from primarily agriculture-based to one which depends on both tourism and its growing biotechnology and technology industries.

Like most municipalities around the world, Municipio de Humacao watched its tax revenues dip precariously during the global economic recession that began in 2007. Tourism fell and some manufacturers closed their doors. Less income created more pressure on city departments to cut costs.  

IT Challenges
The small IT staff of four, responsible for supporting the city’s 250 information workers and its technology infrastructure, clearly felt the need to economize. “IT is usually seen as just spending money and not adding value,” says Evelyn Howe, Information System Administrator for Municipio de Humacao. “When money was the tightest we were faced with the uncomfortable need to spend even more.”

Specifically, the city’s email server running Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 needed an upgrade. The city’s 250 information workers (out of 1,200 total employees) were located all over the city. Many could not connect remotely to the email server or to other city applications, for that matter. They frequently did not receive email messages and had other problems that required IT support. But Howe’s staff simply did not have the resources to help.

In addition to its email challenges, Municipio de Humacao had no convenient way to inform employees about departmental and citywide news. The city distributed the news by using paper bulletins, which was slow and inefficient

IT Solution & Benefits
In early 2010, Humacao looked into Google Mail (Gmail) and Google Apps as an inexpensive way to gain new email and collaboration capabilities. “We liked the fact that with Google, employees could have their work and personal email accounts on the same platform,” Howe says. “However, the Google programs simply weren’t easy to use. We had setup, connection, and usability problems. And for the city, the Google solution did not offer the security that we needed. Some city offices actually forbade us to use Google.”

In January 2010, Trinexus, a local Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, presented the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, part of Microsoft Online Services, as an alternative to Gmail and Google Apps. The collection of services is hosted by Microsoft, delivered over the Internet, and licensed through a monthly, per-user subscription. It includes Microsoft Exchange Online for messaging, Microsoft SharePoint Online for collaboration, Microsoft Office Live Meeting for web conferencing, and Microsoft Office Communications Online for instant messaging.

Howe was thrilled. “My IT department tested Microsoft Online Services, and it solved all our problems,” she says. “We could easily access email from home, synchronize calendars, and it was easy to use. But best of all, it eliminated the need to maintain email and collaboration servers in-house.” The city ran a successful trial of Business Productivity Online Standard Suite and subsequently decided to license the suite for its 250 information workers.

By deploying Microsoft Online Services, Municipio de Humacao reduced IT costs significantly. “We avoided spending $100,500: $25,000 on new servers, $43,500 annually on software licensing, and $32,000 to hire someone to manage Exchange Server and SharePoint Server.” Howe says. “IT is usually seen as spending money; with Microsoft Online Services, we are saving the city money.”

Subtracting the $9,666 annually that the city is paying to license Microsoft Online Services for 150 users, the city has netted a total savings of $90,834. The city also estimates that it will save approximately $300,000 over three years by eliminating services that are now included in Microsoft Online Services. “IT savings are important, especially in this economy. We are spending that money in the city health center to support our citizens and in the public works department to fill potholes and take care of other infrastructure needs.”

Read the full case study; Watch the Video

Please tell us what your particular needs are for collaboration and email.