ZAG Helps Agricultural Company Boost Savings, Efficiency by Moving to Office 365

Customer: Markon Cooperative
Website: www.markon.com
Country or region:United States
Industry:Agriculture

Customer profile
Markon Cooperative is owned by eight broadline foodservice distributors within North America. It is based in Salinas, California.

Partner: ZAG Technical ServicesAgriculture
Website:www.zagtech.com

ZAG Technical Services is an award winning IT consulting firm specializing in network infrastructure, security,communications, disaster recovery and remote access. As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and a Citrix Gold Solution Advisor, ZAG provides enterprise-class business solutions that help companies reduce IT costs,increase productivity and ensue security. ZAG has offices in San Jose and Salinas, California, and serves businessesthroughout Northern California.

Software and Services
-Microsoft Office 365
-Microsoft Dynamics
-Microsoft Outlook
-Microsoft SharePoint

 Microsoft Logo
ZAG is an invaluable vendor for me…. We have a
strong relationship, and are very happy to have engagedwith them years ago
— John Eldredge, MIS Director, Markon Cooperative

Markon Cooperative serves eight broadline foodservice distributors within North America. Faced with cost and upgrade issues for an aging Microsoft Exchange 2003 system, the company worked with ZAG Technical Services to move vital processes to the cloud with Microsoft Office 365. The result is greater internal efficiencies and cost savings, a cloudbased foundation for disaster recovery, and easy access to data for mobile Markon employees using Apple and Android smartphones.

Business Needs

Markon is a California-based company in business since the mid1980s, helping its member companies deliver the highest-quality produce to demanding customers within North America. As part of that effort, Markon works continuously on process and technology improvements that help its roving field inspectors as well as headquarters staff work as efficiently as possible.

For years, Markon has been using a Windows-based IT environment that included an Exchange Server 2003 messaging system. The system served the company well, but by 2012 it was clear that the company needed to upgrade—a potentially expensive and resource-intensive prospect.

“To move to Exchange 2010, we were looking at bringing on a new server, with the capital expense and overhead of deploying a major upgrade,” says John Eldredge, MIS Director for Markon.

Eldredge is the company’s only IT employee, so he wanted to find a more efficient and cost-effective solution that could fit the company’s technical and business needs. Along with controlling costs, Markon wanted to find a solution that could support a long-term disaster recovery strategy to protect vital information.

Solution

Markon turned for help to ZAG Technical Services, a Microsoft Gold Partner that provides a full suite of IT solutions to businesses. Markon has a long-standing relationship with ZAG, with services that include a part-time, an on-site ZAG IT engineer who assists Eldredge, and 24x7 monitoring of the Markon network by a ZAG help-desk team.

It also allows mobile Markon employees, including its team of field inspectors, to using Apple and Android smartphones to access email and documents while they’re on the road.

“ZAG helped us do a cost analysis that looked at an on-site upgrade compared to moving to a cloudbased solution using Office 365,” says Eldredge. “It simply made sense to move to Office 365. Without the cap-ex for new hardware, licensing and time/materials to implement Exchange 2010 internally, Office 365 would provide the messaging system we need for our business. ZAG could also help us integrate it with our internal Microsoft Dynamics system.”

ZAG provided support to integrate the company’s Outlook desktop client with Microsoft Dynamics—Markon’s order entry/accounting system—and Microsoft Exchange Online, the cloud-based version of the messaging and collaboration system.

The project also involved migrating information that used to reside in Exchange Server public folders— such as distribution lists and contact information—to Microsoft SharePoint Online.

Additionally, ZAG helped Markon integrate their new system to an internal fax server because faxes remain a vital communications link for numerous companies doing business with Marko

Solution

With Office 365 and the help of ZAG, Markon has an efficient, streamlined system for messaging and productivity. By relying more on a cloud-based solution, Eldredge does not have to commit nearly as much time to routine IT tasks. The company’s information is protected by off-premises data storage, and Markon receives additional benefits like the anti-virus protection and automatic upgrades that are included in the Office 365 subscription. Markon also benefits from the expertise and services provided by ZAG, which lets the company avoid the overhead of additional full-time employees.

Saving on Time and Money

The decision to use Office 365 helps Markon maintain efficient operations with productivity technology without incurring unwanted cost and overhead.

“This solution really helps us improve our existing resource management,” says Eldredge.

“I no longer have to maintain an Exchange server, so I can redirect the time I would spend on routine server maintenance to more value-added activities that will benefit our business in the long run.”

Boosting Productivity, Disaster Recovery Support

The new solution helps enhance employee productivity while aiding the company in its long-term goal of building a disaster recovery solution for critical information.

“Office 365 provides a web portal for users out of the office, and great support for our users’ iPhone and Android devices. Plus users get 25 gigabytes for an email account, which accommodates mail that might normally be offloaded to an archive.pst file” says Eldredge. “And, by moving our messaging, contact, distribution list, and calendar data to the cloud, we have a natural foundation for creating a disaster recovery plan.”

Benefitting from Strong IT Services Eldredge says the outstanding support from ZAG has been critical to Markon.

“ZAG is an invaluable vendor for me,” he says. “They have a great cross section of engineers, who are very good at what they do. Equally important is their commitment to customer service. They really take ownership of projects like the Office 365 project, and they’re always on alert for network issues that might interrupt our operations. We have a strong relationship and are very happy to have engaged with them years ago.”