Google Cloud results
Migrated 5,500 users and 14 TB of emails in a weekend
• Improves internal and external collaboration with live editing and secure
document sharing on Google Drive
• Empowers employees across the world to work anytime, from anywhere, on any device
• Positions the IT department as a generator of innovation and strategic growth
“Keeping our email servers under control was starting to overwhelm our IT department. We also wanted a new office productivity solution that allowed our workers to collaborate and stay mobile. A cloud-based solution was the obvious answer, and for us the best fit was Google Workspace.” —Christian Schiffner, Systems Manager, KAESER COMPRESSORS
Earlier this year, in the picturesque Germany town of Coburg, KAESER COMPRESSORS celebrated its hundredth anniversary. What started as a family-owned engineering workshop in Coburg in 1919, is today, still family-owned, one of the world’s leading providers of compressed air products and services with dozens of subsidiaries and customers in more than a hundred countries. Compressed air is an essential component of modern industry, so much so that it has been referred to as the “fourth utility” for manufacturers.
“We have been doing this for a long time,” says Christian Schiffner, Systems Manager at KAESER COMPRESSORS. “We’ve set ourselves apart by trying to be visionaries. We work in a very traditional sector, but we’ve made a point of using the latest technology to design and manufacture the best products we can.”
At the celebrations, while Coburg and the company toasted the past hundred years of success, Christian and his team were also looking ahead to the future. Just over a month earlier, they had finished the first phase of a huge technology shift for KAESER COMPRESSORS. Increasingly, IT technologies such as machine learning and IoT were at the heart of traditional manufacturing products, including the company’s range of blowers and compressors. If KAESER COMPRESSORS was going to adapt to this new environment, it needed to realign its IT infrastructure around the cloud. Focusing initially on its workforce and its processes, the company decided to build a new email and productivity platform. The first step on its journey of technological change was migrating to Google Workspace.
“Keeping our email servers under control was starting to overwhelm our IT department,” says Christian. “We also wanted a new office productivity solution that allowed our workers to collaborate and stay mobile. A cloud-based solution was the obvious answer, and for us the best fit was Google Workspace.”
Collaboration simplified, with Google Workspace
“We spent a lot of time discussing and working with KAESER COMPRESSORS to really understand what their needs were and how we could achieve them. From the beginning it was a very close relationship.” —Michael Walther, Managing Director, Wabion
In 2018, KAESER COMPRESSORS’ existing email and productivity platform was starting to show its age and was in need of an overhaul. The email solution was managed with on-premises servers which were nearing capacity as the flow of emails and communications increased every day. As well as the constant need to add more storage, the IT department also had to archive emails and keep them searchable, which was proving to be a hassle.
At the same time, the company’s employees weren’t working in the most efficient ways together. Collaboration was ad hoc and based on sharing and updating documents over long email threads. Files could get lost or replaced with the wrong version. KAESER COMPRESSORS’ workers operate all over the world and are often on the move, but their mobile devices only really allowed them access to email and calendar. If they wanted to do in-depth work on documents or spreadsheets, they had to do so at their desktop computers, which limited their flexibility.
It was time for KAESER COMPRESSORS to upgrade to a more modern, cloud-based platform. Rather than automatically renew the existing contract, CIO Falko Lameter chose to take a more considered approach. “Make more compressed air with less energy” had been the company’s motto for decades, a core driver of the desire to work with the latest and best technologies. It was clear that a cloud-based IT infrastructure was a good way of achieving this goal, and a new email and productivity platform would provide the company with a solid foundation on which to build. Strategically, it was important to choose the right one, and after closely evaluating its options, KAESER COMPRESSORS chose Google Workspace. “We chose Google Workspace because it’s cloud-native, and as such had the most mature feature set compared with the other products we were looking at,” says Christian. “It was simply the best product for us.”
“With live editing, it’s very easy to have a spreadsheet open, for example, and have multiple people work on it simultaneously from different locations. When we share documents, we just share a link and it’s always the most up-to-date version.” —Christian Schiffner, Systems Manager, KAESER COMPRESSORS
In the summer of 2018, KAESER COMPRESSORS teamed up with Google Cloud Premier Partner Wabion to help plan and bring about the switch to Google Workspace. “We spent a lot of time discussing and working with KAESER COMPRESSORS to really understand what their needs were and how we could achieve them,” says Michael Walther, Managing Director at Wabion. “From the beginning it was a very close relationship.”
Wabion and KAESER COMPRESSORS wanted the transition to be as smooth and painless as possible and spent months planning the technical aspects of the migration. At the same time, both were in full agreement that they needed a comprehensive plan of change management and training to prepare the workforce for the new platform. Rather than traditional classroom training, Wabion and KAESER COMPRESSORS chose to use more organic change management techniques. First, they produced a series of short videos showing specific tools and techniques within Google Workspace, such as sharing a calendar item with a colleague. They also identified people across the company to be early adopters of Google Workspace, who could spread their knowledge around as they worked.
The following summer, KAESER COMPRESSORS and Wabion executed the migration as a “Big Bang” event for the whole company, completing the move in a weekend. Gmail replaced the company’s existing email solution, providing full search functionality and automatic archiving in the cloud without the need to sink costs in new hardware and spend time configuring it. It integrates seamlessly with Calendar, allowing employees to schedule and share tasks and meetings as smoothly as possible. They can also communicate in other ways with Google Chat and Google Meet for video conferencing.
With Drive, they can easily store important files and documents in the cloud and securely access them from any device. Meanwhile, Docs, Sheets, and Slides provide KAESER COMPRESSORS with all the tools it needs to work in an office environment with a much bigger emphasis on collaboration than before.
“With live editing, it’s very easy to have a spreadsheet open, for example, and have multiple people work on it simultaneously from different locations,” says Christian. “When we share documents, we just share a link and it’s always the most up-to-date version.”
A new platform, a new way of working
“We were deeply impressed with how quickly our employees got used to Google Workspace. It’s not only improved collaboration internally, the ease of use has also made it easier to work with external partners and customers and foster closer relationships with them.” —Christian Schiffner, Systems Manager, KAESER COMPRESSORS
With Google Workspace, KAESER COMPRESSORS has found a way to build a new way of working and re-orient the company around cloud technology. One of the most remarkable aspects of the transition is how quickly and seamlessly it has happened. All the planning and change management proved invaluable as the company migrated 5,500 users, more than 6 million calendar and contacts objects, and 14 terabytes of emails in a single weekend.
It wasn’t just the technical transition that went smoothly. Wabion and KAESER COMPRESSORS set up a Google Meet “chat room” to deal with any issues that users might have but only had to administrate it for a few hours. The company’s power users and early adopters started to answer other people’s queries and the community began to take care of itself. The legacy platform was kept live for a transitionary period to minimize disruption, but Christian was pleasantly surprised to see users flocking to the new platform on their own.
“We were deeply impressed with how quickly our employees got used to Google Workspace,” says Christian. “It’s not only improved collaboration internally, the ease of use has also made it easier to work with external partners and customers and foster closer relationships with them.”
Meanwhile, the IT department is able to move beyond configuring and maintaining hardware and reposition itself as a generator of innovation and strategic growth for the business. To that end, some users have already started experimenting with Google Apps Script and App Maker to create bespoke solutions such as macros within Sheets to automate repetitive tasks.
Alongside the migration to Google Workspace, KAESER COMPRESSORS has also seen some of the benefits of Google Cloud via Wabion’s Cloud Translation Service to help translate its manuals for its global workforce and customer base. Built on App Engine and Cloud Translation, it is software as a service running in the cloud, minimizing demand on IT resources.
KAESER COMPRESSORS partnered closely with its Google Cloud and SAP team and is now also experiencing Google Cloud firsthand as it begins to explore SAP on Google Cloud and Google Kubernetes Engine. For Christian and his team, the migration may be over, but the journey with Google has just begun.
“We really believe in the benefits of the cloud,” says Christian. “We’ll have access to more memory, better machines, and more advanced technology, such as machine learning. Google Cloud has shown its commitment to innovation in these areas, and we’re looking forward to partnering with it in the future.”
*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.