Hostservice work with OneHQ to implement OFFICE 365 and Microsoft Azure

Hostservice is a Commercial Kitchen, Catering and Butchery Equipment Specialist based in Nelson, New Zealand.

The Problem

Hostservice had an on premises server which was end of life. The main concern was if the hardware should have an issue this would mean serious interruptions to the IT environment whilst it was down for repair, the business could not afford to risk not having access to their business applications for an extended period, nor repeat work if data was lost. The server was responsible for several roles, including File Server, application server and some networking services.

Hostservice runs from two locations, and if there were any internet or power issues at the site which housed the server the other site would be affected. They were keen to future proof their IT but the solution had to be robust, and offer high levels of security without spending a ton of money.

IT was critical to the smooth running of the Host Services, and with the business spread across two separate sites they needed a reliable and flexible solution. Users also needed the ability to work remotely on various devices, accessing e-mails, files and applications from both their work and personal computers.

The Solution – why Microsoft Office 365 and Azure

The team from OneHQ carried out an audit to assess Hostservice requirements and decide on the best solution for them. Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure was selected as the most appropriate package for the organization as it not only provided the flexibility they were looking for, but being cloud based, also provided additional business continuity assurance as e-mails and data could be accessed remotely, and via any machine connected to the Internet. This meant that if the organization suffered a power cut, or the office was closed for any reason, the business could continue from other locations. The additional components within Office 365 such as Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint were also of interest to Host Services

Microsoft Azures cloud platform was selected given Hostservice heavy use of Microsoft technology. This provided a secure modern cloud platform which can scale up as required

Technical Installation

OneHQ decommissioned the 5-year-old onsite Windows server and setup new virtual servers within Microsoft Azure. Azure Active Directory Domain Services was utilized, and all PCs were joined to the same Azure domain. This meant users log into their PCs with their Office 365 account, and this is the same account that authenticates the users to access Azure (Single Sign on).

Site to Site VPNs were configured from the Fortinet Firewalls directly into an Azure VPN gateway.  ExpressRoute was not required in this instance.

Hostservice’s business applications and data run on a carefully specified Azure VM running Windows 2016 Server. Data backups are managed within the Microsoft Cloud, but to a different global location for redundancy purposes.

2 Factor authentication using Microsoft authenticator was implemented to enhance security greatly

All mailboxes were migrated in the background prior to any onsite work, so the email profiles were simply changed on the day and all email, calendar items were present on the new system. Company mobiles were pointed at the new mail service

The solution also offered the following advantages:

  • The new system is significantly more secure, and much less risk of downtime
  • Latest Windows Server Operating System providing additional functionality
    • No server hardware required! (Less power, less noise)
    • Single Sign on makes it very easy for users to access all parts of the system

Experience of working with OneHQ

Hostservice were really pleased with how smoothly the transition went. Having expected to lose a day for the new systems to be implemented, they were pleasantly surprised that systems were only offline for a couple of hours, meaning that minimal working time was lost. Staff have advised that their main business application is considerably faster now, which was an issue that caused frustration on the old system.

Nick Strachen, The Director, said ‘We were initially concerned that the transition to Office 365 and moving our server load to the cloud would be difficult. However, we needn’t have been worried. The speed and ease of the implementation was absolutely brilliant, far better than expected. The team from OneHQ were so easy to work with, and any teething problems with the system have been sorted out quickly and efficiently’.