IceWarp Helps Family Resource Agency Cut IT Maintenance Costs, Enable Mobile Workers

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IceWarp’s, the emerging provider of Unified Communications & Collaboration solutions, announced a new case study showing how Family Resource Agency used its products to cut IT maintenance costs and enable mobile workers.

“Compared to other packages we evaluated, pricing is very reasonable and competitive, and you don’t need a ‘race horse ‘server to make it run very well. You set it up and forget about it.”

IceWarp’s, the emerging provider of Unified Communications & Collaboration solutions, announced a new case study showing how Family Resource Agency used its products to cut IT maintenance costs and enable mobile workers. FRA is a nonprofit organization serving families, children, and adults to improve their quality of life, and enable them to be more self-sufficient, productive members of the community.

Organization:

Family Resource Agency (FRA) is a nonprofit organization serving families, children, and adults in ways that improve their quality of life, and enable them to be more self-sufficient, productive members of the community. The organization operates in Southeastern Tennessee and Northwestern Georgia.

Problem:

FRA is closely watching its overhead expenses, including IT costs, in order to channel as much resources as possible to the serviced population. For many years the organization was relying on free software packages such as Pegasus for email client and Mercury for e-mail server.

“For a nonprofit organization, free was right in our price range,” explains Bob Detweiler, Information and Communication Technology Director with FRA.

However, as the organization developed, it started to outgrow the free solutions. The main shortcoming was that these systems did not have a robust Web interface that could support FRA’s dispersed and mobile workforce. Systems’ compatibility was another issue that consumed IT resources and constantly required costly infrastructure investments.

“For example, we were forced to run Windows and Novell Directory Services, since Mercury was native to the Novell environment,” says Mr. Detweiler. “We got to a point when each project we were starting would cost us $3,000-4,000 just to synchronize active directories.”

FRA’s staff, scattered across two states and ten counties, also needed reliable tools to communicate from any location.

“We have two head start programs, one in South East Tennessee that covers four-county area and one in North Western Georgia which covers a six-county area, “ explains Mr. Detweiler. “The distance between our Northern and Southern locations is over a hundred miles. Additionally, we have over 50 support locations and nearly 500 employees scattered all over our operations area. We had to go to the field each time to set up accounts for new employees or de-activate accounts for the former ones. It was a whole lot of maintenance overhead for us. So a web-based system was instrumental for our IT department.”

Solution:

FRA information technology team decided it was time to phase out Novell and free up the funds to get a new e-mail system. After reviewing six different products, the organization decided to go with IceWarp.

“The solution had all the prerequisites we decided on, such as Web interface, simplicity of management, synchronization with active directory, and support for mobile devices,” says Mr. Detweiler.

However, the FRA technology team wanted to be absolutely sure they have the right tool.

“We did a limited IceWarp deployment on a test server and asked a small group of users to try it out for a month,” recalls Mr. Detweiler. “Everybody decided it was the way to go.”

Also, the team was attracted by IceWarp server features that allowed FRA to seamlessly transition from the legacy system to a new solution.

“We just loved the IceWarp server migration feature,” says Mr. Detweiler. “We were able to move all our emails over the weekend. On Friday people were on Pegasus, they went home, and on Monday IceWarp was up and running ready for them. Cut over was seamless, it was very easy to maintain and manage. We created the active directory account and IceWarp took care of the accounts and e-mails formation.”

According to Mr. Detweiler, it was easy to train FRA’s workforce to use IceWarp.

“The web client is very intuitive to use,” says Mr. Detweiler. “The application looks a lot like MS Outlook, which many of our employees use at home.”

Results:

In addition to solving chronic system compatibility issues, IceWarp helped the agency to truly enable its mobile workforce.

“We do not have to go out to the field when we have new employees or when employees change locations, like we had to,” says Mr. Detweiler. “When we have new hires, we create a new account and we are done. They are up and running. That streamlined the operation and saved us hours upon hours of administrative overhead.”

Also, the FRA makes the most of the IceWarp’s capability to support many standards-based mobile devices.

“Our staff travels a lot, and it’s a big benefit to them to be able to send and receive e-mails and follow calendars on their phones from wherever they are at,” notes Mr. Detweiler. “This is wonderful for me and for the IT staff especially, since we are shuttling between the centers. I can be 30 miles from our main office and when I’m about to leave, I check my e-mail. When I see that somebody needs something at a location just a little out of the way, I can head there and take care of the issue before I return to the main office, as opposed to coming to the headquarters and finding out that I have to drive back.”

At a later stage, FRA discovered that IceWarp makes it easier to adopt new technologies.

“When we decided to move to a virtual machine, we have discovered that we have nearly one million emails on the old server,” says Mr. Detweiler. “People don’t want to get rid of anything. So we bought one solid-state PCI hard drive and stored IceWarp email files on it. The solution seems to be responding to the VM very well. When I switched it over, I haven’t had a single person calling with any problems, and it runs faster.”

“Throughout two years we have been very happy with IceWarp,” notes Mr. Detweiler. “We had to contact tech support just a few times, but there wasn’t anything major. There issues were resolved quickly and taken care of really well.”

ROI

While it’s hard to calculate the exact IceWarp deployment ROI for a nonprofit agency, FRA estimates it was able to recoup the investments within half a year.

“Counting maintenance hours and travel time, the system paid for itself within 6 months,” says Mr. Detweiler. “We frequently had to travel to sites that are 50-60 miles one way, and each trip costs $30-$50 in mileage alone. With IceWarp, travel time went down significantly.”

Mr. Detweiler says he would absolutely recommend IceWarp to other nonprofit organizations.

“It is very easy to manage, it synchronizes with the active directory and basically provisions itself,” explains Mr. Detweiler. “Compared to other packages we evaluated, pricing is very reasonable and competitive, and you don’t need a ‘race horse ‘server to make it run very well. You set it up and forget about it.”

About Family Resource Agency, Inc.:     http://www.fratn.com
About IceWarp:                         http://www.icewarp.com

About ICEWARP

IceWarp is an emerging provider of Unified Communications for every business class, size and niche. Building upon a decade of enterprise e-mail platforms experience, IceWarp offers organizations an all-in-one highly secure solution that enables their mobile workforce to communicate through any platform, be it e-mail, mobile synchronization, chat, SMS, voice or video. The highly scalable product can easily be used by organizations of all sizes, from SMBs to large corporations, delivering ease of deployment, exceptional reliability and scalability. IceWarp’s solutions are available in over 40 countries through a comprehensive network of distributors.

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Yegor Kuznetsov
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