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Concentric

With facilities on 3 continents, this global manufacturer relies on critical email communications to support its innovative business. In a search for a cost-effective, easy-to-administer hosted Email and Managed Enterprise BlackBerry solutions, the company chose Cobweb “...because it just works!” Dan Hodson, IT Manager, Concentric

Concentric is an innovator in flow control and fluid power, supplying proprietary systems and components for trucks, buses and industrial vehicles worldwide. The company encompasses two technology/product areas: hydraulics and pumps for diesel engines.

The hydraulics range is supplied under the Haldex brand name and the pumps are branded Concentric. With facilities in England, Germany, India, Sweden, China, and two locations in the United States, the company’s global footprint and employee base must be supported with innovative communications solutions and technologies for 24/7 always-on access.

A few years ago, the company underwent a transformation and its legacy email MS Exchange platform became unavailable. Here, we see how Concentric turned to Cobweb for reliable, innovative hosted email and BlackBerry capabilities.

The Challenge

Dan Hodson, IT Manager for Concentric and based at their Birmingham UK facility, describes the challenges and objectives that the company faced.

“Recently, we lost our legacy Exchange system due to a restructuring. We had been relying on another division for our Email infrastructure and suddenly it was no longer available. We had to start from scratch.”

Starting from scratch gave Dan the opportunity of looking at all of the options. “We considered purchasing our own email server and Exchange, but that option was expensive. Not only would we have to buy the IT infrastructure, but we’d also have to purchase the appropriate licenses from Microsoft.”

Dan points out that these initial costs were only part of his considerations. “We also realized that we’d have to support email and BlackBerry company users in all seven of our global offices,” he states.

“We started to ask ourselves some questions: Where do we put the server if we buy our own? In the United States? Sweden? Here in our UK office? And once we placed it somewhere, who was going to manage and administer those services?

What about ongoing support and Disaster Recovery?
I realized that this new email facility would have to support the communications requirements for about 600 people and if it went down it could seriously affect the business. “I also worried that if the service was placed here in the UK, we’d spend much of our time managing it. I have only one other staff member in our local IT department. I believed that our IT resources would be stretched if we purchased such a solution and placed it here. I began asking myself, ‘Is owning our own site really viable?’”

The Better Option: Hosted Email Technology
But Dan also considered other options, including hosted email platforms. “I conducted some research and found who the main players were in the hosted email space,” Dan states. “Our research came down to 2 choices: Cobweb Hosted Exchange and Microsoft’s email platform.”

But to Dan, Cobweb stood out. “We talked to the people at Cobweb, got some references, and read some case studies. When we compared Cobweb’s offering to Microsoft, MS came up short. We found that Cobweb was used as a test bed by Microsoft for new MS products. That gave us a great deal of confidence in Cobweb. We then discovered that mailbox sizes were larger on Cobweb than on the Microsoft alternative. So there were some noticeable differences.

“Price was also a factor because price is always a consideration for us. But we compared the Cobweb price to Microsoft, and also to owning our own email solution, and recognized that the longer-termed costs were much smaller with Cobweb Hosted Exchange.

For instance, an email upgrade is now less expensive, and because we don’t have to worry about an upgrade, it takes no time to install and configure it. Cobweb does it all.”

Having considered the advantages of a Cobweb solution, Dan presented his case for Cobweb Hosted Exchange and Cobweb BlackBerry to Concentric’s directors. “The final decision to use Cobweb was made at the highest levels in the company,” Dan states.

“Email is a critical communications tool for us. Lack of email availability can affect everything from sales to manufacturing, to the supplier communications process. Concentric directors decided on Cobweb. And they like their decision.”

The Solution

Today, 565 Concentric employees use Cobweb Hosted Exchange for email communications. Cobweb Hosted Exchange is a business-class messaging and collaboration service
designed to help businesses communicate securely, efficiently, and effectively.

Delivered as a fully managed solution with 24/7 support, and Internet enabled but utilizing high levels of security and integrity, Cobweb Hosted Exchange provides a significantly lower total cost of ownership for messaging and collaboration needs.

“In total we’re using about 2 TBs of email resource with Cobweb, or about 2 GBs an employee,” Dan states. “The Cobweb solution works very well. Frankly, it’s rather difficult to
summarize the benefits because that’s always difficult when a supplier is so good.

In other words, we don’t have many issues, so I don’t phone Cobweb very often. And when I have had some very small issues, the Cobweb service team is very responsive to our requests.

‘It does what it says on the tin.’ Cobweb Hosted Exchange just works. We don’t have to worry about it. Ever.”

Administration is also painless. “Cobweb Hosted Exchange requires very little administrative resource or time,” Dan notes. “It synchronizes with our own Active Directory.

Adding or removing users is quite straightforward and takes only a few minutes. So only very minimal administration is required. In fact, it works so well, and with so little effort, that I rarely have to think about it.”

Managed Enterprise BlackBerry Services

Concentric has also adopted Cobweb’s Managed Enterprise BlackBerry services to empower BlackBerry communications. Now, 54 Concentric staff located across the company’s global facilities use the Cobweb BlackBerry service. Managed Enterprise BlackBerry services from Cobweb provide a one-stop, no-compromise, wireless email solution that allows users to stay connected with access to email, phone, web, and organiser features on the go.

“The BlackBerry service from Cobweb works seamlessly, and with few issues,” Dan explains. “The service also provisions easily with BlackBerry devices. Just turn on the device, access the Cobweb BlackBerry administrator, take 30 seconds to run through the Cobweb setup interface, activate the Cobweb service with a password, and you’re done. It synchs up very quickly and easily.”

Dan highly recommends Cobweb Hosted Exchange and Managed Enterprise BlackBerry services to other companies. “I recommend Cobweb because they provide cost-effective, highly reliable, easy-to-administer services that form a very important part of Concentric’s communications capabilities. Cobweb takes the headaches away. Even though we are supporting global staff, email and BlackBerry communications are something we don’t have to worry about anymore.”

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