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Quality Distribution spends less on hardware and more innovation

Posted by Dan Moore, CIO, Quality Distribution

Editors note: Today’s guest blogger is Dan Moore, CIO for Quality Distribution (QDI), the largest tank truck operator in North America and a major transporter of hazardous materials. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Prior to switching to Google Apps, QDI was a 100% Microsoft®-enabled shop. We heavily leveraged Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Outlook, SharePoint Portal Server 2003, and all of the Microsoft Office suite. Like many companies in recent years, our budgets were tight, and our business requirements were not getting simpler. With approximately 1,000 administrative personnel and 2,500 drivers, and an aged desktop client base, we looked to cloud computing as a silver bullet.

We compared both Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 for several months in 2010. We decided to go with Google’s product line due to their simpler cost model, wider breadth of applications, and deeper experience at building applications for the cloud. Microsoft Office 365 did not seem as cohesive as the Google cloud offerings. The Microsoft total cost of ownership was higher, had more dependencies on the physical device, and fewer features.

We rolled out Google Apps to our all of our corporate users over the course of a month, and we’ve already received positive feedback from employees. We anticipate saving $250,000 annually in software licensing, plus the cost avoidance of future spend on data center hardware. Perhaps more compelling, is the time savings opportunity of collaborating in Google Docs. We are already seeing early adopters embracing the collaboration of Google Apps, and I believe the time savings will only increase with the users experience.

For the users that have migrated their documents to the cloud, we will be replacing their older PC’s with with net-books such as Google’s Chromebook. The lower hardware requirements of web enabled applications, allow our IT department to spend more time delivering improvements to the the user experience. One of our first examples of this was our implementation of video and voice chat via Google Talk into our driver recruiting process.

Finally, as Google Apps comes with access to the Google Apps Marketplace, our team has begun evaluating apps as solutions to business problems previously prohibitive due to expensive hardware and support costs. These apps are generally priced at levels with little risk to adoption while seamlessly integrating into the Google Apps enterprise.

Our company still has a long way to go before I can say we are 100% cloud, but the trip so far has had few storms and many silver linings.