The Second City Gives Standing Ovation to Google Apps and Agosto

Project Highlights

What The Second City Wanted

  • Secure data storage
  • Collaboration
  • Low maintenance costs

Why The Second City Went Google

  • Proven track record
  • Google-powered cloud
  • Change management

What The Second City Accomplished Through Agosto 

  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced costs
  • Eliminated recurring outages

About The Second City:

The Second City is a well-known entertainment empire based in Chicago, with theatres and training centers in Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood. The organization has three full-time touring ensembles with five ensembles on Norwegian Cruise Line ships, as well as various other city-specific limited engagements each year. The Second City has thriving corporate communications and theatricals divisions and lively television and film operations.


The Second City had what company Director of Technology at the time, John McCloskey, called “all the typical problems.” The list included having an older Exchange server that failed in some way every other month, multiple versions of Microsoft Office not playing nicely with each other and what John called versioning hell.

“Along with the usual Microsoft Exchange problems, we had difficulty editing documents and accessing resources while out of the office,” said John. “We urgently needed a solution that would provide better email and document reliability, compatibility for all users, low maintenance and IT costs and a better way for users to collaborate.” John described spending a lot on the organization’s Exchange server in both monetary and human capital. There were also numerous interns coming and going that were not employees, but who needed email access.

Agosto and Google Solution:

Agosto delivered Google Apps and then provided The Second City assistance throughout their migration and deployment. The Agosto team then provided training and support, which continues as needed.

Agosto shepherded us through the entire migration. They provided the change management we needed to help introduce Google Apps to our users, and then the training to actually get everyone up and running. Even after a couple of months, Agosto is still our first stop regarding any Google questions.
— John McCloskey, Director of Technology, The Second City


The Second City has launched the careers of many of entertainment’s most adored comedy performers, writers and others over the past fifty years. Today, with several theaters in different cities, as well as a multitude of practices, events and shows, scheduling and sharing information was a huge challenge.

The organization’s aging Exchange server provided only antiquated and slow email search capabilities, and keeping up with the right patches and email clients was a challenge. Having a single email server was also worrisome, from an availability and disaster recovery standpoint. The multitude of technology challenges presented created a perfect storm of need for a new solution.

As Agosto helped the organization migrate to Google's public cloud, all of the dangers and fears felt by The Second City’s IT team have been squelched. Using a phased approach, Agosto moved contacts, mail and calendars from the existing system to Google Apps, starting with the IT team and expanding to the global group. This user-involved model helped get the most technically savvy users trained first so that they could support their fellow users post-migration. Agosto also provided two days of on-site training for the organization.

“Agosto shepherded us through the entire migration,” said John. “They provided the change management we needed to help introduce Google Apps to our users, and then the training to actually get everyone up and running. Even after a couple of months, Agosto is still our first stop regarding any Google questions.” 

The Google cloud is providing the stability, better electronic discovery in Gmail, and access for everyone from The Second City, anywhere they work, from any device. Google Calendar provides a good interface for the sharing and scheduling of events and shows. The organization’s users are now collaborating using Google Docs, Gmail and Chat.

Our experience with both Google Apps and
Agosto has been overwhelmingly positive.
— John McCloskey, Director of Technology, The Second City

“Our folks are starting to use Chat much more, as we imagined they would, and are finding quite a bit of usefulness in it,” said John. “Plus, as we predicted, quite a few individuals and departments have organically started using Docs on their own, though we didn't spend much time going over features during training.”

Some more advanced users are even starting to embrace Google Sites to bring materials together.

“As our users begin to use the new Google tools more and more, even the most technologically challenged staffers are getting more comfortable in the Google tools ecosystem and have been a little more eager to kick the tires on different features,” said John. “We see fantastic stability and collaborative improvements across all arms of our business and as we transfer more and more of our older Microsoft documents to Google Docs, we'll see even more capabilities unlocked for our employees. Our experience with both Google Apps and Agosto has been overwhelmingly positive.”

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