Office 365 is the right design at Foster partnership

Lord Foster’s London-based global architecture house has adopted the Microsoft Office 365 application suite because of its ease of adoption. Head of IT Barry Smith tells CIO UK the two leading cloud-based application sets were back-to-back trialled.

Lord Foster’s business has given the world some of its most ground breaking buildings, such as the Masdar City in the UAE, and the awe inspiring Millau Viaduct in France, while in the UK buildings such as the Sage in Gateshead, St Mary Axe, City Hall and the Millennium Bridge have reshaped our city skylines. The London-based firm also designs furniture and yachts amongst many other special projects.

Smith and his team are part way through the adoption of Microsoft Office 365 to replace the traditional Microsoft Office enterprise licence agreement. Smith is a keen advocate of cloud computing. "Our cloud appetite outstrips supply at present. Office 365 and Microsoft Lync will make a massive difference and the strategy is about how our people communicate and work together on a drawing set for example.

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"We looked at Google Apps, but it was too different for our organisation in terms of user interface. A change of the tools without buy-in is a strategy of failure. We did a pilot of Google, but Office 365 comes with a lot of familiarity. We need to drip feed change," he says.

In a CIO profile interview Smith describes the intense profile driven nature of the architecture market meaning change projects and new application sets cannot upset the rapid pace of the business. "We could have continued with the Microsoft enterprise agreement, but in my time we have had a big shift towards managed services, including our telephony and security perimeter.

"We've produced some amazing designs in terms of products and buildings and we are incredibly innovative," said Smith of his employers.