This article was originally published in the Autumn 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issues delivered directly to your inbox.
At Microsoft Inspire in July 2019, Microsoft revealed that it had received more than 2,900 nominations for the Global Partner of the Year awards. IT solution provider Long View Systems was one of the nominees and, based on its commitment to customers, market impact and exemplary use of Microsoft technologies, won Canada Partner of the Year for the second consecutive year – a first for any Canadian partner.
With a network of around 68,000 Microsoft partners who all transform their customers’ business in vital ways, winning an award like this is no mean feat. Over the past 20 years, Long View has built a reputation for innovation and progressive business culture, but what sets it apart from the competition?
An organic breakfast and snack food company based in North America was leading its market with three manufacturing facilities on the west coast of Canada and the US, but it had plans to expand with a fourth in Vancouver. However, the company was spending too much of its time trying to manage its legacy IT and on-premises infrastructure to seek its expansion at the rate necessary to maintain its competitive advantage and differentiate itself in a crowded market.
If the company had continued in this way, growing its team and setting up offices would have taken over three months, an unacceptably long period of time in an industry where competition grows fiercer with each passing day.
To make matters worse, its primary data centre in Richmond, Virginia was built on a huge flood plain. Its business-critical tools that interact with plants and invoice clients and its entire enterprise recourse planning (ERP) infrastructure were at risk. A flood could result in massive data losses and millions of dollars in reparations, and could cripple its growth plans.v
The organic organisation urgently needed to switch its IT services to a cloud model to grow its company, mitigate risk and ensure business resiliency. The company was already using Office and Skype, and Microsoft had invested in its partner Long View to educate them on the best options for their business. This was a key differentiator that led the firm to choose Long View to help it on its Microsoft Azure migration over competing clouds and companies.
Long View’s team began managing the firm’s day-to-day IT needs. As organic foods have become a global movement, the company needed a partner that could grow with it and support it across North America. As it’s grown, Long View has continued to be future focused by moving the snack supplier’s IT infrastructure to the cloud. This has not only reduced its energy consumption by 27%, but it has also increased its productivity by 20%.
“We know how to make great-tasting organic food and they know how to leverage technology to enable our business,” said the firm’s chief financial officer (CFO).
After bringing the customer’s CFO, IT director and other stakeholders together for a discovery session to create a two-year data centre transformation roadmap, Long View began the migration with Exchange.
In a series of moves, Long View migrated two Exchange 2016 servers to Exchange Online, and Office 365, OneDrive, Skype for Business and SharePoint Online, with Power BI coming to the firm’s productivity suite soon. Long View then moved the firm’s enterprise resource planning (ERP), integrated file systems (IFS) and manufacturing workloads to Azure. As many were based on old versions of Windows or SQL server, this also involved several upgrades.
In just under eight months, Long View helped the edibles enterprise to reduce its IT footprint from four server racks to less than two which in turn has minimised its power consumption and ensured it meets its corporate eco-commitments.
By moving away from a dated and vulnerable data centre with limited failover capacity, and making use of the Microsoft Azure public cloud, the firm has exponentially improved its business resiliency. It has been able to move 400 staff members to new offices without moving racks and racks of data centre equipment and with almost zero IT effort required. Long View’s efforts enabled it to save 12 months and US$1 million in physical data centre equipment.
“Most importantly, leveraging the cloud has provided us with near-instant access to better business data, whenever we want it which allows us to make quicker decisions regarding product development and distribution,” said the CFO. “This will ensure we keep our competitive edge for years to come.”
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