Decision Resources Group

Researcher Improves Continuity, Supports Growth, Reduces IT Tasks with Office 365

Solution Overview:

Organization Size

650 employees

Organization Profile

Headquartered in Burlington, Massachusetts, Decision Resources Group is a research and advisory organization focused on healthcare data and analysis. It has about 650 employees.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Microsoft Exchange Online
  • Microsoft Lync Online
  • Microsoft SharePoint Online
Vertical Industries

Life Sciences, Chemicals; Oil & Gas, Mining


United States



Company Overview:

Decision Resources Group, a global provider of healthcare research and advisory services, needed to improve email reliability and management.

DECISION-RESOURCES-GROUP-Case-Study-Foetron Inc.By using Microsoft Office 365 for enterprises, it eliminated downtime of email and collaboration sites, saved half a day of weekly IT management time, and reduced infrastructure expenses. With no storage capacity limitations, it can rapidly add mailboxes to support an aggressive business acquisition model.

Business Needs:

Decision Resources Group is a portfolio of companies that provides data and analysis for the healthcare industry. Founded in 1990, the Burlington, Massachusetts–based organization grows organically and by acquisition, adding one new company a year. Ensuring business continuity for approximately 650 employees across North America, Europe, and Asia is one of the IT department’s most critical roles.

“Because our businesses are spread across the world, it’s essential that we stay connected electronically,” says Michael Vozila, Principal Systems Engineer at Decision Resources Group. Employees relied on Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, which resided in the company’s Burlington data center, to communicate with colleagues and customers. In August 2011, when a hurricane caused the facility to lose power, email was down for three days. Vozila, who was solely responsible for the email system, had to deal with the fallout. He also often fielded late-night calls from employees when email problems arose.

Decision Resources Group does not limit mailbox size. Because of this and corporate expansion, the organization experienced storage and backup issues. “We had to purchase production and backup storage arrays to add capacity—at a cost of about [US]$80,000—to support our growing company,” says Vozila.

Vozila spent up to four hours on email system maintenance every week, including investigating backup failures. He had set up a two-node clustered mailbox server for failover purposes, but when space ran out in early 2011 on the passive mode, he had to remove it from the cluster, which made the company more vulnerable.

The organization hosted about 200 Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 sites in a data center based in Boulder, Colorado. As the company grew so did its data center footprint. In order to increase switch and storage capacity, scheduled maintenance was required, resulting in an inability to access SharePoint resources for hours during these outages. Rolling out new versions of SharePoint Server and Exchange Server was time-consuming, requiring about three months of planning and testing time prior to deployment.

Decision Resources Group needed to reduce IT management while ensuring that email and data could be reliably accessed. It believed that cloud-based computing services would make this possible.


In January 2011, Decision Resources Group began evaluating Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 productivity tools. “There were several issues with Google. Its privacy policy wasn’t adequate—our legal department was concerned about what would happen to our data—and the Google Apps services weren’t robust. Google isn’t enterprise-ready,” says Vozila.

With Office 365, everything just works. I don’t have to worry about infrastructure vulnerability and there’s no downtime for scheduled maintenance. Employees access email and files anytime from anywhere.

– Michael Vozila
Principal Systems Engineer, Decision Resources Group.

The company chose Office 365 for enterprises, a subscription-based offering that includes Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Lync Online. “Our employees were already familiar and very happy with Microsoft email and collaboration products.

We felt that with Microsoft, it would be an easy transition to the cloud,” says Vozila. In June 2011, 15 IT staff members started piloting Office 365. Three months later, the company began rolling it out. It set up Active Directory Federation Services so that employees could access Office 365 with their existing Active Directory credentials. Decision Resources Group deployed a hybrid server so that it could seamlessly migrate user mailboxes to the cloud at a pace that worked for the small IT team. On-premises and cloud deployments coexisted on the server until December 2011, when the IT team completed the mailbox migration.

Decision Resources Group used Metalogix Migration Manager for SharePoint to move its SharePoint Server 2010 sites to SharePoint Online. It plans to use Lync Online to replace WebEx for about 90 percent of its audio conferences—everything except companywide meetings. As of May 2012, Decision Resources Group had 680 licenses for Office 365 and 40 standalone SharePoint Online licenses so that customers could access sites without Active Directory authentication.


By using Office 365, Decision Resources Group improved reliability of its email and collaboration services, reduced IT capital expenditures and management tasks, and simplified the process of adding employees to its infrastructure.

Eliminated Downtime, Boosted Business Continuity

Decision Resources Group has not experienced any downtime with email or SharePoint sites since it moved to Office 365. “With Office 365, everything just works. I don’t have to worry about infrastructure vulnerability and there’s no downtime for scheduled maintenance. Employees access email and files anytime from anywhere. We can communicate with each other and customers without interruption,” says Vozila.

Reduced Burden on IT Staff and Capital Expenses

The Decision Resources Group IT team saves up to four hours every week now that it does not maintain the email infrastructure. It freed up time previously spent planning and deploying upgrades to Exchange Server and SharePoint Server and fielding calls from employees regarding email access problems.

After employees start using Lync Online instead of WebEx for communications, Decision Resources Group expects to save up to $60,000 per year on WebEx licenses. It will also reduce key infrastructure expenditures, such as the approximately $80,000 spent on new storage arrays to handle corporate expansion. “By moving to Office 365 and decreasing the hardware needed to support and manage email, SharePoint sites, and instant messaging, we will definitely reduce costs,” says Vozila.

Easily Accommodated Business Growth

Running out of infrastructure capacity is no longer a concern for Decision Resources Group. The IT team can quickly add mailboxes for employees from newly acquired companies without encountering storage limitations. “For an organization like ours that has aggressive acquisition plans, the ability to accommodate business growth without taxing our IT staff, infrastructure, or budget is incredibly beneficial,” says Vozila.


Microsoft Case Study: Decision Resources Group

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