How happy are you with the work SADA Systems delivered?
We’ve been very happy. We made them our partner of record. We deployed it [office 365], but the thing I really appreciated about SADA Systems was when we deployed this, it was fairly new at the time from Microsoft, which meant there was a lot of nuances that hadn’t yet been discovered. SADA Systems was really plugged in to Microsoft, which I really enjoyed. When bugs were found, and there were a series of bugs, this is Exchange 2003 we’re dealing with, trying to port that over to O-365, we were one of the first customers to go to O-365. We were discovering a lot of things, and SADA Systems was diligent at working with Microsoft, number one. Number two, the efficiency of the program was such that in under two months, we had the entire company moved. So, they were able to work with us aggressively. There were very few errors outside of documented bugs. That’s kind of our experience with SADA Systems in any project we’ve engaged in. So, yes, I would say we’re extremely satisfied with their work.
How satisfied are you with Office 365 as a platform so far?
Office 365 is a – if it’s only platform – I’ve got a love-hate relationship with it. The hate part really comes from the fact that there’s a little bit of black box that happens now. There’s almost death by paper cut in terms of performance because some of our constituents can be on different servers and different data centers, now we get these sweeping statements like, “Hey, my email seems to be slow.” Well, I don’t control the access anymore. I have very little visibility. So, the metrics come in to Microsoft. Our point isn’t as granular as I’d like to see. The products itself, I think is very strong. What I really enjoy is the software release cycle. All of a sudden, something like a linked recording manager would be turned on. We’ll get the credit. We’ll get the accolade associated with us, yet this is something we didn’t deploy. So we’re very good at telegraphing what features they’re turning on next. You have a little bit of control as multitenant, still. So, I think they’re doing a lot of things right. I’m a little bit disappointed we haven’t seen the integration of Skype, although I believe it’s coming up now. So, Enterprise Voice has been lagging for us. The only solution was to do a hybrid, and we do know we don’t want to go down that path. But overall, I think the performance was acceptable. The features are acceptable. I think it’s a pretty solid platform.
So you feel you made the right decision?
I feel I made the right decision especially in seeing what’s coming out. The integration of SkyDrive and the retooling of SharePoint, I think that brings a different experience that just shows that Microsoft is – you can criticize them all you want - really getting it with this platform.
When working with SADA Systems, did you find anything to be unique or special compared to other IT consultants that you’ve worked with?
I think there’s one thing that’s very unique about SADA Systems. I’m going to break away a little bit from Microsoft and O-365 on this. There is a number of consultants out there that are big box consultants that I have worked with that – I’ll give you an example. I was trying to move my data center completely into the cloud. Through this traditional big box, vendors will come in and say, “I can easily move that to the cloud. Let me take that physical asset, I’ll virtualize it, I’ll STP it, or I’ll physically ship it over to your private cloud, and we’ll unpackage it and voila!” Okay, that’s great and that works. SADA Systems takes a very different approach. SADA Systems was saying to us, “We want to make sure – we understand the cloud. We want to make sure that when we move your assets that your assets are able to function.” The portability of the asset is one thing, but understanding what the impact is going to be for your business is where SADA Systems really starts to shine. So, maybe it’s part of their culture, maybe it’s part of the kernel of how they grew as a company. But, I find they’re a little more in tune with the consequence of some of these actions, the consequence of moving to the cloud. They’re a little more realistic about what you’re going to give up when you go to one of these cloud solutions. I find that grows a great deal of trust. So, I’ve been very satisfied with them, their vision, and their execution.
Looking back on the project, is there anything you’d do differently a second time around or think that they can improve upon?
What I would do differently is I’d be a little more cautious when going to solutions that aren’t quite big, especially for core solutions. Moving messaging when we did was a little risky. But it’s a risk I felt I had to take. So, in terms of the project, I think I would treat it a little differently in that I’d want to do a little more testing before we dive in. But, in terms of SADA Systems, I think SADA Systems did as good a job as they could have. As a company, the only place I would really criticize at all is – and this is very minor and very specific. I don’t even know if it was worth mentioning, but the little things like – I was expecting a little more from the Enterprise websites from them. It seems they’re doing a little bit more testing now, but it’s a gap in the portfolio of Microsoft. And that seems to be the same in telephony - seems to be a bit of a gap in their portfolio. So, I hope they shore that up as they get into cloud Enterprise Voice. But aside from that, no major complaints.