Founded in 1997 AINEO Networks was built to provide turnkey IT solutions to meet the needs of companies of all sizes around the world. Today AINEO’s products include three distinct offerings, hosted email, IT support and hosted phone systems. The cornerstone of their business is hosted email, which they first offered in 2008 with a hosted Exchange solution that raised awareness of the benefits of cloud email.
The interest in cloud email was high, but with Exchange they quickly ran into stability, scalability and cost issues that threatened their growing business. Because they provided hosted Exchange to their customers and used it internally, AINEO’s team quickly became familiar with the limitations of Exchange from a technical and usability standpoint and it was clear this approach was holding them back.
As a partner selling and servicing both Zimbra and Microsoft Exchange, AINEO was at a difficult crossroads between which platform would support their aggressive growth plans for hosted email. They had to decide whether or not to push through the expensive pains of Microsoft Exchange, or decide to go with another solution such as Zimbra. Through thorough analysis they finally reached an internal agreement that it was time to put Microsoft Exchange behind them – both internally and for their customers – and find a solution that was built for the post-PC era.
The Challenge: Preparing for the Next 10 Years of Growth
To make the selection about which platform would better support the future of email AINEO looked no further than their own usage of Exchange and a realization that Microsoft Exchange wasn’t meeting their needs for accessibility, collaboration and stability. The only way that AINEO could prepare themselves for the next wave of company growth was to make sure they had infrastructure in place that they could rely on. AINEO was trying to deal with the challenges of a remote, collaborative workforce that is becoming increasingly common for companies around the world.
With clients around the world AINEO found a good portion of their team traveling a majority of the time. This meant AINEO’s employees had to be able to access their email and calendars from any computer at any time. This was simply not possible with Microsoft Exchange. A hardware agnostic email system would be ideal for AINEO and their employees.
The second hurdle was around collaboration features. With part of their employee base on the road they had to find a way for their workforce to collaborate. One of the key collaboration challenges they needed to address was around calendaring. Setting calendars in Outlook was difficult and clunky. Microsoft did not offer a full view of multiple employees’ schedule that allowed people to easily set up meetings with no errors. AINEO knew there had to be better collaboration tools out there.
Finally, Microsoft Exchange was a huge demand on server processing power and memory, which led to instability and a need for more – expensive – computing power. This instability caused obvious scalability issues for AINEO. Every time they added a new client’s hosted exchange to their servers they found themselves holding their breath hoping nothing broke internally or externally. Initially AINEO looked to add additional resources to improve Exchange performs, but with an investment of $220,000 into servers solely for Microsoft Exchange, AINEO needed to find a cheaper and more stable platform to take their hosted email business forward.
The Solution: Global Scalability
After thoroughly evaluating multiple email providers with the needs of their employees and customers in mind, they knew Zimbra was the answer. As an email service built for the post-PC era Zimbra gave AINEO everything they were looking for. This included Zimbra’s Ajax web interface with features like drag and drop appointment scheduling that makes it easy for employees to get work done no matter where they are or what device they’re using. Zimbra’s collaboration features around content sharing and calendaring blew Microsoft out of the water and showcased how there’s more to an email system than just remote access and calendaring.
Once the internal evaluation proved out, the business side took a look at the cost of purchasing, running and supporting Microsoft Exchange was driving profits out the door. Zimbra offered AINEO a more stable platform that was easy to administrate for a fraction of the cost. That paired with the robust Ajax web interface and unique collaboration features made Zimbra an obvious choice.
The web interface and collaboration features were fantastic, however, AINEO still had some push back from loyal Microsoft Exchange employees. Thankfully Zimbra had AINEO covered. With Zimbra being interoperable, AINEO was able to set up Outlook interfaces while running Zimbra on the back end. This ensured that everyone, even the loyal Microsoft fans, didn’t lose productivity during the transition over to Zimbra. Not only was productively not lost during the transition but server stability the users were put on a much more stable system. With Zimbra taking far less processing power and memory than Microsoft Exchange it was a win win for everyone. They finally had an email, calendaring and collaboration platform that was built for their need.
Business Results/ Benefits:
AINEO Networks has been running Zimbra since 2008 and they could not be happier. They run it internally for their team, and hosted as a service at www.QuickerWeb.com. Their thorough evaluation of all the options paid off, they finally had an email system that didn’t drain their resources. After purchasing Zimbra they were able to migrate their entire workforce over to Zimbra overnight. This was huge for AINEO, especially after having gone through the setup process of Microsoft Exchange. Running on Zimbra ANIEO is now poised for the next phase of company growth.