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Local Government in the Cloud – Office 365 Deployment at the Milevsko Municipal Office

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The Milevsko Municipal Authority is a municipal authority with extended powers, with 26 municipal offices under its competence. Approximately 100 employees.

We required a modern system for the management of e-mail, on-line electronic calendars, and on-line booking of resources, such as rooms, vehicles, and didactic aids, with a high capacity per mailbox and a high level of accessibility from anywhere in the Internet. Two working days and one weekend were allotted for the system implementation; it was necessary to avoid any interruptions in office operations. To our satisfaction, we gained a high capacity on-line archive of incoming and outgoing e-mail. Previously, the e-mail archiving had been handled only locally, on individual computer workstations. František Troják, Secretary of the Milevsko MO

Task

To deploy a reliable, always accessible, and completely secure e-mail system with benefits.

As an office with extended powers, the Milevsko Municipal Office has a wider range of competences and duties than other municipal offices. Its employees used an obsolete e-mail system with the following characteristics:

  • Postfix, Linux OS FreeBSD
  • POP3
  • Outlook Express, incl. off-line mode
  • 2 GB mailbox size limit
  • no shared resources
  • low accessibility
  • data archiving only on local PCs
  • messages searched only via the message tracking function
  • no mobile access

The office management therefore decided to switch to a modern system for managing e-mails, but at a low acquisition costs. The basic requirements were a highly accessible solution, the ability to manage e-mails from a widespread and well-known application, mailboxes with sufficient capacity, information sharing among users, calendar sharing with external entities, and user data archiving secured at a high quality level. The aim was to accelerate the general management of e-mail and communication between employees.

Solutions

Very strict criteria were set for the selection of a new system. The only system that could fully meet them all was Office 365 from Microsoft.

The applied Exchange Online programme offers a highly accessible solution in the on-line replication of two geographically separate, mutually independent data centres. Data in these centres are secured up to Tier 5 in full compliance with ISO 27001 and SAE 16 safety standards. The most demanding requirements of the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework which is in accordance with the Czech law have also been met,” according to Jan Gerhart, a project manager for Infinity.

This solution enabled the accelerated development of the provided public services and significantly facilitated communication and performance of assignments for employees.

Achievements

Because it was not necessary to install the system on the hardware of the office, the transition to the new solution was very fast (within days and with the minimum participation of workers). Office 365 produced several additional significant benefits. Administrators have mentioned mainly the high accessibility. The prevention of e-mail system failures, e-mail losses, and obstruction of operations is also very important. Moreover, they obtained these advantages without having to deploy a costly infrastructure, as is usually necessary with on-site solutions.

Another benefit is the availability of new features thanks to MS Outlook upgrades to versions 2007 and 2010, particularly the function used for sharing information among employees with calendars, work time schedules, and shared contacts and tasks.

The mail system now allows users to manage their mail from almost anywhere and from any device. It is possible to use the Outlook Anywhere technology to connect to the server from a computer with Outlook 2007 or higher and to administer e-mails off-line as well. Mail can also be administered by means of a web-based application operated from a computer connected to the Internet. Smart phones are easily connected via Active Sync or the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

The new system also offers 25 GB mailboxes with the option of archiving data on-line up to this limit; an unlimited archive is also available for a surcharge. The calendar service is standard. The system is designed to allow an even larger number of users to set their free time schedule easily and instantly. The organisation of an appointment attended by more than three participants, which had been very complicated, can now be managed by one organiser in minutes.

Users can find contacts for other employees and external addressees in a shared Global Address Book, as such contacts can be easily included into the book by the administrator.

Shared Tasks is another useful tool that can track the progress of individual as well as collective tasks. The security of transmitted data has rapidly increased. Previously, the authority could send messages only via unencrypted POP3 and SMTP channels, but this has now changed.

Business Impacts

Administrators have mentioned mainly the high accessibility. The prevention of e-mail system failures, e-mail losses, and obstruction of operations is also very important. Moreover, they obtained this advantage without having to deploy a costly infrastructure, as is usually necessary with on-site solutions.

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Authors

Tomáš Sýkora

Sales Director - Cloud solutions and services

+420 467 005 692

tomas.sykora@rsm.cz

Karel Fišnar

Department Director - Cloud solutions and services

+420 467 005 675

karel.fisnar@rsm.cz

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