Global Ad Agencies Avoid $1 Million Capital Expense in Email Upgrade with Cloud Hosting

Solution Overview:

Organization Profile

Young & Rubicam, based in New York City, is a leading advertising agency with 186 offices in 90 countries. Wunderman, also based in New York City, is an interactive marketing agency with more than 150 offices in more than 50 countries.

Software and Services
Microsoft Office 365
Vertical Industries

Professional Services


United States



Company Overview:

Young & Rubicam and Wunderman, the global advertising and interactive marketing agencies, wanted to upgrade their joint email system.

WUNDERMAN Case StudyBut they didn’t want to make a significant capital investment to build a new on-premise solution. With Microsoft Office 365 for cloud-based email and more, they avoided first-year IT capital costs of US$1 million, their mailbox sizes have increased 50 times, and their availability is backed by Microsoft at 99.9 percent.

Business Needs:

For companies like Young & Rubicam (Y&R) and Wunderman, agencies whose operations span every time zone around the world, few functions are as crucial as email. To support email, the companies operated 20 clusters of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 worldwide, which served their more than 300 offices.

“I was constantly worrying about those 20 clusters,” says Jeff Marshall, Chief Information Officer at Y&R and Wunderman. ”Our staff had to remain on around-the-clock alert for any possible email outages.”

Although the system operated reliably, there were concerns. Employee mailboxes were limited to 500MB. As file attachments grew to many megabytes each, employees had to archive their mailboxes daily, keeping as few as seven days’ worth of mail at a time. And the use of an older version of Exchange Server left employees without features they would otherwise have been able to access through their Microsoft Outlook 2010 client software, such as booking conference rooms and scheduling team meetings.

Updating the software to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 would address many of the companies’ concerns. But just replacing their worldwide deployment of aging hardware would cost about US$1 million—to switch the computers, increase bandwidth, and build redundancy into the system. Y&R and Wunderman wanted the benefits of an updated system, without the costs.


While their email system was based on physical servers located around the globe, some of their other systems weren’t, such as the extranet and intranets. These were based on centralized, virtual clusters. Virtualization of email would deliver some of the benefits—such as greater availability—that Y&R and Wunderman sought. But the companies would see even more benefits from another type of hosting platform: a cloud services platform.

Y&R and Wunderman didn’t have to look far for its solution. They already relied on Microsoft software, so when Microsoft released Microsoft Office 365―an online service that unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with the power of email, calendaring, collaboration, and communication solutions―Y&R and Wunderman adopted it, becoming one of the largest early adopters.

That the responsibility for email availability sits with Microsoft and Office 365 rather than with us has improved our productivity and enhanced our employees’ ability to serve our clients worldwide.

– Jeff Marshall
Chief Information Officer, Young & Rubicam and Wunderman.

The shared Y&R and Wunderman environment is complex, with both PC and Macintosh computers, desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. It also includes acquired companies, which are connected through Active Directory Federation Services. Marshall and his staff worked with a Microsoft team to take all of this into account in preparing for the migration.Each office was migrated in anywhere from a day to a week, depending upon its size. The migrations were implemented at night, to minimize the impact on employees, and were automated via Windows PowerShell command-line scripts.

Employees came to their desks the morning after a migration, opened their Outlook 2010 client software, and worked without any noticeable change, except for the benefits of Office 365. Macintosh users did see a different interface, one that Account Director Scott Morton says they mastered with the guidance of a simple email message.

Y&R and Wunderman have migrated all of their employees to Office 365 over the past year


Y&R and Wunderman are using Office 365 to boost availability, expand the functionality of email, and reduce costs.

Avoids $1 Million Capital Expense
Y&R and Wunderman got what they wanted with Office 365: increased reliability and functionality, at lower cost. By adopting Office 365, the agencies avoided the $1 million capital expense in new hardware. “We didn’t adopt Office 365 to save money, but saving money was crucial to getting the project approved,” says Marshall. “Now, with Office 365, we literally have more for less.”

Expands Mailbox Size by Factor of 50
Y&R and Wunderman employees now have mailboxes of 25GB each—50 times the previous size. In their media-intensive industry, the extra space isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. “User complaints over mailbox size have gone away, because we’re now giving employees the tools they need to do their jobs,” says Nick Gelotte, Network Administrator at Wunderman Seattle. “They can send and receive the files they need. And they don’t have to waste time on archiving mail.”

Employees benefit in other ways, too. They can now take full advantage of Outlook 2010 to, for example, book conference rooms and schedule team meetings. Mobile employees—virtually everyone, from time to time—have faster, easier, and more reliable mail access than before.

Boosts Availability
With Y&R and Wunderman’s migration to Office 365 complete, Marshall says his email concerns are a thing of the past. “I don’t worry about system availability anymore,” he says. “That the responsibility for email availability sits with Microsoft and Office 365 rather than with us has improved our productivity and enhanced our employees’ ability to serve our clients worldwide.”

One change is the system’s high availability—99.9 percent—which is financially backed by Microsoft. Another is the reduction in time that the IT staff spends working on email issues. Time formerly spent on backups, software updates, and user provisioning has all been eliminated, so now IT works on tasks of greater value to the company.


Microsoft Case Study: Wunderman

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