The project started with a proof of concept last December, Mr Rental CIO Brad Rappell told iTWire, and the progressive rollout was complete by March. The project was assisted by three Microsoft partners, each specialising in one of Exchange, SharePoint and Lync. This allowed Mr Rappell and his colleagues to concentrate more on business issues and less on the technology and plumbing side of the project.
The company was drawn to the SaaS approach for several reasons.
Not least was the fact that the company is a rental business, so it made philosophical sense to rent rather than pay upfront for software and servers. And being able to the vary the number of seats up or down is important, as Mr Rental has been experiencing double-digit growth for several years.
"I can do it in increments of one (user) and I can do it month to month," Mr Rappell said. It also makes it possible to test ideas with no capex required.
An important reason for picking Office 365 rather than an alternative such as Google Apps was that staff were already familiar with Microsoft's user interface. The company thus enjoyed fewer change management or training issues.
Outlook 365 is practically the same as Outlook on Windows, Mr Rappell observed, and the switch was practically seamless.