Microsoft Lands Coca-Cola as an Online Services Client

But a former Microsoft executive cautions that hosting is a costly proposition for companies of all sizes.

SEATTLE-Microsoft has snared Coca-Cola Enterprises as a customer for its dedicated hosted services, which will be phased in over the next few years.

Coca-Cola Enterprises is the world's largest marketer, distributor and producer of bottled and canned liquid nonalcoholic refreshments, with some $20 billion in annual revenue.

It that has 74,000 employees, some 30,000 of whom are knowledge workers with access to desktops and laptops, with 15,000 true mobile workers. The other 30,000 work in the company's plants.

The company introduced a global transformational agenda for itself at the end of 2006, with communication a key component of that, Esat Sezer, CIO for Coca-Cola, told eWEEK here at the 2008 SharePoint conference.

"How we collaborate between different regions and the various business units is a very important part of the transformation," Sezer said.

As such, the company created an executive communications council, which Sezer co-chairs, whose goal is to leverage different technologies and find a way to adopt those in a manner that enables better communication and collaboration.

To that end, Coca-Cola Enterprises introduced live video broadcasting and audio on demand though its portals, but then realized that its technology framework required a refresh, which meant taking a new direction.

Microsoft expands its online services. Read more here.

"At that time we had a variety of disparate legacy and inherited technologies, and pulling all of these together would have been a challenge. We probably owned every technology introduced in the last decade, and that was hard-wired and patched together, which certainly did not give us the ability to scale up," Sezer said.

Company officials decided to migrate from largely IBM-based technologies, including Crossroads, WebSphere and Stellant, to Microsoft to simplify all this while getting the capabilities that would allow it to quickly scale up on the communications front and do unique customization.

Then came Microsoft's software-plus-services concept, and "we saw the commitment from Microsoft to work with us to pull all this together. So we made that call and will begin the first part of the migration of our communication and collaboration capabilities, including e-mail, calendaring and conferencing, to Microsoft Online Services in the second half of this year," Sezer said.

Coca-Cola Enterprises' intranet portal will also be totally renewed with SharePoint, and document management and learning capabilities will be added on top of that, given the importance of training its large mobile work force.

The company plans to roll out these online services to more than 10,000 staff members during 2008 and hopes to reach many more in 2009.

Coca-Cola Enterprises will use Microsoft's dedicated hosting model, which is for companies with more than 5,000 employees and which has been running for the past four years. It is in the prototype stage, and the infrastructure part is almost done, Sezer said.