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Opus opts for Office 365

CIO Bruce Tinsley says legacy systems will run in parallel with Office 365 for three to five years.

New Zealand-based infrastructure and construction consultancy Opus has announced it is rolling out Microsoft's cloud productivity suite Office 365.

CIO Bruce Tinsley says 10 percent of the company’s 2100 global workforce is already on Office 365. The rest will be migrated by first quarter of 2013.

The majority of staff currently use the standard Office suite running on desktop, along with a mixture of open source calendar and mail systems.

"It was all very messy," says Tinsley.

In mid-2011 Opus reviewed its platform architecture to support its growth strategy, which involved further expansion in overseas markets.

Opus is number 52 in this year’s MIS100, the annual report on the top IT using organisations in New Zealand.

Related article: Master builder

Thirty years after becoming a trainee analyst, CIO Bruce Tinsley continues to relish working in, and progressing to leadership roles in IT. The key is not to be typecast in any specialist field or business.

Tinsley says cloud systems were sought to limit the amount of physical hardware that would need to be hosted in New Zealand. Saving on operational costs and being able to support overseas teams was a key priority.

Google Apps for Enterprise, onsite Microsoft Office and Exchange, and open source systems were also considered.

The company trialled Office 365 following the acquisition of Coffey Rail in Australia in March. Fifty staff were involved in this trial, and Tinsley says this differed to the usual process where new acquisitions were brought onto the core Opus infrastructure.

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Bruce Tinsley

Tinsley says go live for the rest of the organisation has been put off until next year while Opus completes a data network rollout with AT&T, and finishes migrating desktop environments to Windows 7.

He says he expects to continue running legacy systems in parallel with Office 365 for the next three to four years.

Tinsley says the two biggest challenges have been in employee education and a certain amount of pushback from his IT team, many of whom are open source advocates.

Both issues were dealt with by training. Staff are being taught how to use the new cloud product, while the same IT team that maintained Opus' open source platforms are now being trained to run and maintain the new cloud system.

Tinsley says following the migration next year Opus will add SharePoint and Lync.

"Our growth strategy requires us to be scalable at any instant. We need to be able to support new acquisitions and staff at any notice and cloud technology lets us do that," says Tinsley.

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