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Mail in Cloud

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Avishek
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Punj Lloyd Group (PLG) is a diversified international conglomerate offering EPC services in energy and infrastructure along with engineering and manufacturing capabilities in the defense sector. With a turnover of US $1.8 bn, the group has a rich 27,000 strongly skilled multi-cultural workforce, has the experience of working in different geographies and diverse terrain, empowering the group to aggressively pursue its vigorous plans.

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Being a large group spread across 14 global offices and more than a hundred project offices across the globe, the group was nearing the term expiration of its Lotus based emailing system and was looking to streamline its mailing and relative applications in tune with cloud based integrated systems. Also, with the stagnation in Lotus systems and the lack of ‘added features', the group was considering shifting to other mailing solutions altogether. In this process, PLG placed a business inquiry with Google to address their needs and the search engine major was quick enough to rout the potential business lead to its preferred partner, Team Computers. Headquartered in New Delhi, Team Computers was founded in the year 1987. It has served wide-ranging industries including financial services, general insurance, banking, manufacturing, healthcare, IT-ITeS, retail, real estate, and media. With over 1,100 members, 4 regional and 19 branch offices, and over 250 support locations in India, Team Computers was an obvious choice for PLG. Speaking about the prime concerns of his requirements, Atul Kumar, CIO, PLG said, "While evaluating cloud service providers, we were primarily concerned with finding an archiving and managing solution. The cost of maintaining email database and AMC was constantly going up," adding that the existing messaging system was an expensive proposition and required lot of backend management efforts across global locations.

After a successful round of talks, propositions, and solution offerings, the contract finally came to Team Computers in May 2011 and the company quickly delved into the solution. "As we understood from the requirements of PLG, they were not only looking for mailbox migration of an odd 5,000 employees but were also considering applications migration as well as newer solutions," said A Rajendran, director, Team Computers. The solution which finally got implemented was a simple mailbox transition solution followed by application integration and migration. The project was carried over in three phases primarily beginning with Beta testing to full-scale implementation.

"The stage-wise transition of all users from Lotus Notes to GApps needed a complex sequencing of steps. Team and Google consultants worked closely with Punj team to successfully handle every element," Rajendran added. In the first phase, Team Computers only migrated about 60 mailboxes with the full solution portfolio for testing purposes. It was then followed by the ‘early adoption' stage whereby another 500 mailboxes or so were migrated and the final solution (migration) came in late September when the process was completed.

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Key features of this project included existing Lotus data migration, trainings and change management, as well as integration with DLP for compliance policy. Team Computers implemented Google Apps email and collaboration platform for 5,000 employees.

Speaking about the solution and the preference for GApp, Rajendran said, "Migration from Lotus to Google is easy and feasible as most of the features are common and Google keeps on upgrading and adding new features to their solutions. It is also simple to use as well as deploy having a non-complicated structure. Above all, nobody can match the price point which Google offers. These were the prime considerations why we considered Google as the best solution for PLG apart from the fact that the sales lead came in via Google." The migration process was indeed smooth enough for Team Computers with the company deputing just three personnel for the project. The total cost

of the solution was `25 lakh inclusive of mailbox migration and the relative deployment. However, Team Computers has already started the next project with PLG estimated to generate at least another `30 lakh of revenue for Team Computers.

"In this phase we will be migrating applications and check for compliance and related factors. Also, if needed we will have to integrate as well as frame new solutions and applications for the client," Rajendran added. The upgraded email technology to cloud gives ease of access and centralized administrative control as well as facilitates server management and AMC. The mailbox size increased up to 25GB, whereas maintenance and backup went to Google, hence ensuring a 99.99% uptime and availability from anywhere in the world, giving Punj Lloyd complete scalability with focus on increasing employee productivity. As such, Team Computers did not face any major challenges in the project having expertise in cloud based migration services. However, according to Rajendran, he major challenge for them was to convince users to adopt the new solution.

The average age for the workforce in PLG was in the range of 25-40; naturally, the younger age group was quick enough to adopt the new technology and seemed enthusiastic about the project. On the other hand, as seen globally, the older age group was less flexible to the change in their mailing solution. "They have been using Lotus notes for the past 7 years and were used to it. Now, with the new solution in place, there would naturally be hesitation and lack of flexibility for the older age group towards the transition," added Rajendran. Apart from the mental blockade, in technical terms, there were no major obstacles towards the transition other than the rationing of bandwidth, as Team Computers could not use the full capacity of the bandwidth on account of the constant usage of it throughout its global offices.

Leaving its client satisfied with the transition, Team Computers is optimist about working with PLG for a more brighter and concrete future towards helping its client manage servers as well as bag the AMC contracts. Navdeep Singh Ahluwalia, DGM, IT, Punj Lloyd said, "Team Computers has successfully provided a working solution to our concerns, ranging from migration of the current mailing system to GApps. This solutionempowers our employees to stay connected with the company email system across the globe, even through the data card."

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