Blog

Azure Migration Case Study — RELYCO (Podcast)

Mike Chambers from RELYCO talks with John Maher about how PCG guided his company through an Azure migration. He explains why they decided to move to the cloud, and then, he talks about the advantages it provides in terms of remote workers, predictable expenses, and security.

Portsmouth Computer Group · Azure Migration Case Study – RELYCO

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher and I’m here today with Mike Chambers, General Operations Manager at RELYCO, a premier supplier of unique and innovative paper products and business forms in Dover, New Hampshire. Today we’re doing a case study of an Azure migration project that was performed by PCG. Welcome Mike.

Mike Chambers: Hey, thank you for having me be here. It’s my pleasure.

Why Did Your Company Migrate to the Cloud?

John: Thank you for being here. So Mike, PCG helped you with an Azure migration. Basically you had an old server that you had at your office, in-house, and you’ve taken all of that and moved it up to the cloud using Azure from Microsoft. What was the reason that you did that? And what made you feel like the cloud was the right solution for you at the time?

Mike: Well, we were coming to the end of life on the previous server and it was recommended we could go one or two ways. We could replace that server or take it to the cloud. And spending every four years getting updates, doing the maintenance that needed to be done on that existing server… we asked PCG for a proposal on cloud hosting for us as we work with Salesforce, which is on the cloud for us. So we are very much used to working in that atmosphere.

That was really the driving force as to why we did not want to go with hardware any longer, because we were already in the cloud with Salesforce. And once PCG gave us the proposal, we determined that this would be a good decision. There’s no running in the middle of the night because the server went down. There are no crashes taking place, so on and so forth. And from remote access, etc., it just made sense for us.

How Were You Using the On-Premise Server?

John: Right. With Salesforce, you said you had already moved into the cloud. What were the things that you were generally using your on-premise server for at the time?

Mike: We had what was called a J-Drive hosted on that server, and we also used it for tracking FedEx shipments going in and out of our facility as well as facilities across the United States. All that data would get uploaded into that server. Then, we’d go in and pick it, push it into Salesforce, and that would generate tracking emails to go to our customers. Essentially that’s what we’re still doing today, but not on the server level. We’re doing it in Azure.

How Has the Cloud Improved the User Experience?

John: How have your user experiences changed now that your resources are in the cloud? This includes employees who are accessing that server or, like you said, it could be customers as well that are getting emails and things like that through the server. How has their experience changed?

Mike: We haven’t had any issues whatsoever since the install or the changeover took place. So I give a lot of credit to PCG. You guys di a good job with this for us. There are no calls to you guys first thing in the morning saying people are trying to access that server and they can’t get in. I don’t have to go in, check it out, restart it, call PCG and ask them to take a look at why it went down. I don’t have that headache any longer.

With the cloud, it’s always there and always open 24/7 for us to be able to get in, look at the documents that we save to Azure and take care of business anytime we want.

How Did the Azure Migration Help Support Remote Workers?

John: And you mentioned people having to remotely access the server. How has moving to the Azure cloud made this easier for your remote workers? And do you have a lot of workers that are remoting into the server?

Mike: Yes. Currently today we have three days in the office and two days out of the office post-COVID. So with that being said, during the COVID period, we shut down in March of 2020 and we did not open the doors back up until July of this year. And as a business in itself, we remained profitable throughout that time period. So that means that all of the sales reps, all of the CSRs, all of accounting, operations, purchasing, they were all accessing our server over the cloud and being able to perform business flawlessly.

When Did You Move to the Cloud?

John: What was the timeframe, when did you move to the Azure cloud?

Mike: It’s got to be a year ago now a year, a little over a year. It’s got to be a little over a year now because it was before we went on shutdown. So it’s a little over a year and a half.

John: Oh, okay, yep. And so you were uniquely situated to have people be able to access your server and all the information that they did once you had that shutdown. You had all that already in place.

Mike: That’s correct. And we had already had a plan in place working with PCG. We equipped all of our employees with laptops and they were instructed at the time, a snowstorm might be coming in, take your laptop on so that you can work from home that week. That was our snow policy.

And then when COVID shut us down, we were well prepared and ahead of the curve because we had Azure in place. We had the laptops in place. Everybody had been doing it prior to the shutdowns. So it really worked out well for us.

VPNs vs. the Cloud for Remote Workers

John: When the remote workers had to get into the server prior to the cloud, were they having to use a VPN to get in there? And how is that different now that you’re in the cloud?

Mike: Yes, they were. Now, it’s much better. It’s much easier. So yes, they would use a VPN or they would hit the two folks that were in the office the whole time, myself and Mary Jo, our receptionist, and ask us to get files for them and email it to them, et cetera, et cetera. So once that passed, then we didn’t need to do anything like that any longer.

Does the Cloud Help With Security?

John: What about security? Do you feel like things are more secure or that you’re better situated with your infrastructure now that you’re in the cloud?

Mike: I do. And I also feel that stability wise, we are much, much better than what we were. I can remember changing tapes out in the server room. We got rid of that. But as far as any downtime, security wise, I have no concerns whatsoever. And PCG has done a great job with helping us recently as well with security to make sure that we’re buttoned up.

I’m in the middle of that survey with PCG that we just took and we’re making steps to improve upon our internal security tier as well. So I can’t say enough good things about the move we made and also about Portsmouth’s Computer.

Would You Change Anything Now?

John: Now that you’ve migrated, is there anything that you would change about the way that things are currently working?

Mike: Absolutely not. If I don’t have any trouble, I’m not changing anything.

Tips for Companies Considering an Azure Migration

John: And is there anything that maybe you wish you knew before you did the migration things that could be helpful for other companies that are looking into doing an Azure migration like this?

Mike: Yeah. We had quite a few meetings prior to it with PCG in house here. And it was laid out really well for us, what the benefits are, what we’re doing next, where we’re going to go next, et cetera, so that we had understanding of, okay, how much downtime are we going to have for our users, because we’re a sales generated company so that if you can’t process sales, what’s that mean to us?

So it was very well planned and laid out by PCG. I just sat and shook my head and said, yeah, do your thing. You guys are the experts in this. I’m not an expert in IT technology, nor will I claim to be, but I wouldn’t change a thing because I didn’t suffer any surprises.

How Has the Cloud Affected IT Costs?

John: So in terms of capital expenses and your purchasing process for servers and licensing and things like that, how has being in the cloud changed that?

Mike: Well, it comes with the expensive hosting, but that’s, to me, a lot better on a yearly basis than what it would take for our server maintenance or replacement, so on and so forth. So we looked at the numbers pretty closely. We compared them to what we were spending in IT prior to making this move over, including service tickets, etc. And we decided, you know what, it’s worth it because it’s on the cloud, even if it is more expensive. Which I’m not saying it is, or it isn’t. At this time, we’re within our IT budget that we planned for the year. In a small company like ours, that’s really good. We want to stay on target with that.

John: And you can count on those expenses being the same every month.

Mike: Exactly.

John: Whereas with that server, like you said, in the closet, you never know, and all of a sudden something could break and then you’ve got all kinds of IT fees and capital expenses of buying a new server or something like that; things that were unexpected. Whereas now you just have that monthly fee and that’s it.

Mike: That’s correct. And so the budget is well laid out and planned. We know what the bill’s going to be. We know what we need to dedicate towards that side of the business. There are no surprises and we’re perfectly happy.

Final Thoughts on the Azure Migration

John: Any final thoughts on the Azure migration, and again, just kind of how the process went and, and where you are now, where you see this going in the future?

Mike: I think that migration went very, very well as I said, and I wouldn’t change anything. And I would highly recommend if you’re thinking about doing it to go ahead and sit down with PCG and lay the plan out and see what you think. Because we can’t be even any more pleased at RELYCO Sales, Inc., because like I said, downtime is minimal at best and you can operate 24/7. And there’s no worry about something going up in the server room, which is now a storage room.

John: So you gained some space back in your office too.

Mike: Right.

John: Absolutely. Alright, well, Mike, thanks again for speaking with me today. I really appreciate it.

Mike: Of course. Have a wonderful afternoon. Thank you.

Contact PCG to Talk About Azure Migration

John: All right. Thank you. And for more information about Azure migrations, visit the PCG website at PCGIT.com.