Macs and PCs on the Same Page. Barkley Goes Google.

 

Barkley Advertising, headquartered in Kansas City, MO worked with Google Enterprise Partner Umzuzu to move 235 employees from Exchange 2007 to Google Apps for Business in the fall of 2011. Barkley IT Director, Steve Covell, and Network Engineer, Kevin Buller, looked to Google Apps to solve their cross-platform and storage challenges that have persisted since computers first entered Barkley in the early 80s.

Covell describes the desktop breakdown, “Until recently, we have had roughly a 50/ 50 Mac to PC split. Over the last couple of years we have had a steady increase in the number of Mac users. We are currently at a 60/ 40 Mac to PC ratio.” 

Buller recounts Barkley’s history with Exchange mail clients, “Our Mac users have always had a second-class experience on the Exchange server. In 2001 Microsoft released a Mac Outlook client, and for about two years we had an acceptable experience for the Mac users. For much of the last decade we made do with the limited functionality in Entourage. We were hopeful that Outlook 2011 would solve a lot of our issues. Outlook 2011 was better, but it still lacked the features that our PC users enjoyed. Google Apps finally put us all on the same tools. On the web, everyone is equal.”

Trading large collateral files with clients led to issues with Exchange Server inbox limits. “We’re a creative agency, we can’t tell our users to delete their work just to keep a leaner inbox,” Covell explains. Buller describes the technical solution Barkley had to use to manage attachments, “With Exchange, we used a process called ‘stubbing’. Attachments over a certain size and aging where stored on an archival system. The user would click on the ‘stubs’ in the email to retrieve the original attachment. When it worked, this retrieval would take from thirty seconds to five minutes.” Buller adds, “Stub retrieval did not work on the Macs with Entourage. Mac users would have to switch to the Citrix client to use the PC version of Outlook to retrieve their attachments.”

Large attachments also led to increased desktop support work for IT. As local caches of email grew in Mac Outlook and Entourage the databases would become corrupted. The users would have to request IT support to have their local stores rebuilt. Google Apps eliminates this administrative burden. Covell discusses the change, “Rebuilding these databases was a weekly occurrence. The user would be down until IT would complete the fix. Since switching to Google Apps we are saving a ton of time that’s much better invested in more strategic initiatives.”

The switch to Google Apps didn’t just solve the cross-platform issues, Barkley quickly started to enjoy new features, like Google Talk for chat and Google Calendars to communicate with clients. Covell elaborates, “We had SharePoint running, but it didn’t play nicely with our Macs. Now we share project calendars directly with clients via Google Calendars. Project managers can do this themselves and don’t need assistance from IT to do so.” 

Since Going Google, Barkley has added 30 additional staff. “We just add the accounts. We don’t worry about mail clients, disk space, or what platform they’ll be on,” Bulller says.