On Tuesday we shared lessons learned from four of my Event 360 colleagues. Today I’m sharing one more from David Jordan, our Director of Information Services.
What David shared is a lesson learned that, at one point or another, we all find ourselves having to learn. Maybe not directly, but most certainly from a company perspective this is a question everyone likely considers.
David’s lesson learned from 2014 is: Sometimes it makes sense to go with a service instead of a purchase.
In my private life as a consumer, I prefer to buy rather than rent. Purchase a car rather than lease one. Buy a house rather than rent one. For many businesses, it also makes sense to work that way. The cost of owning something outright is almost always less than the cost of purchasing an equivalent service on an ongoing basis. However, there are times when the math works out better the other way.
In 2014 we transitioned from a traditional on-premise server infrastructure to a cloud based set of server-like services, notably the Microsoft Azure and Amazon virtual machine environments and Microsoft’s Office 365. If we look at Office 365 strictly as a replacement for the Office 365 suite of business applications, it is hard to see where the Office 365 subscription model makes sense. Why would you spend more money over a given time span renting software and paying for it every month instead of owning it outright with a one-time purchase? After all, the Office applications are known to be long-lived, with good support for prior document versions. Heck, it is still possible to get by on Office 2003 if you have to.
But when you look at Office 365 as part of your overall IT planning instead of just a suite of business applications, the equation changes. Office 365 also includes hosted email service, hosted spam protection, and hosted Sharepoint. By migrating to Office 365, we ultimately lowered our costs and improved the service to our staff. In addition to that, we:
- Retired three on-premise servers that had previously provided email and Sharepoint services
- Removed the need for infrastructure to back up those servers and physically store the backups
- Eliminated server software licensing costs and headaches
- Eliminated hardware service contracts for the servers
- Got out of the server replacement purchase life cycle and large budget hits
- Reduced man hours maintaining and repairing those systems
- Began the process of eliminating all of our premise servers and the physical infrastructure for them
- Were finally able to have everyone on the same version of the same Office applications
- Are providing levels of service that were simply not possible on the servers we retired, and to a wider array of platforms and devices.
Our systems run better, our staff are happier, and license activation issues have disappeared, which is important if you ramp up for seasonal staff. It gives us the flexibility to grow or contract as we need to, without worrying about whether we have enough licenses or are sitting on too many. Mostly, it just works. And really, isn’t that what software is supposed to do?
Is an Office 365 subscription less expensive than buying a standalone version of Office 2013? Not on its face. But when you look at the overall benefits and the systems (and the support systems for those systems) that you no longer have to maintain, it can be a real bargain. It certainly was in our case.
As someone who has been on the receiving end of many of these changes, I can say that it’s been pretty seamless. And in the end, we all share in the responsibility of making smart, economical decisions. Watching David make these kinds of changes has inspired many of us at Event 360 to take a second look at how we work with specific programs and vendors.
Has your company made changes to its purchasing patterns for services and programs over the past year? Hit the comments below to share your experiences. And if you haven’t read the other lessons learned shared on Tuesday, be sure to go and check those out here.