Like most companies budgets for IT projects over the last couple of years have either been put on hold or significantly reduced with the ethos “Keep the same technology going for another year”. Allergy Therapeutics was running Exchange 2003 standard and restricted to the hard coded limit of 75GB mailbox store and was very near the limit for some time, but due to some good mailbox limits and management of users they never went too far over the limit. However with all things, the increase use of emails as a means of communication and ever increasing size of emails IT management knew this year this would have to change and upgrade to a newer Exchange system.
Several options were looked at, including hosted exchange, on-premise exchange and using non Microsoft products. After researching these, the IT Manager opted for the on-premise solution and for the split UK and German Exchange systems. With a total of around 500 mailboxes/users and a heavy split in Germany, the need for their own on-premise mail solution was obvious and a necessity.
The company came to Inventas and requested us to plan, implement and support a new infrastructure which allowed for smooth transition from Microsoft Exchange 2003 to Microsoft Exchange 2010.
The Upgrade Challenge
With the entire business heavily dependent on emails, minimal to zero disruption was highly desirable from start to finish on the migration. To minimize the impact and due to the complexity of their multi-domain environment the upgrade was implemented in 4 stages
Stage 1 – Assess the current environment and specifically looking for any errors on the exchange, AD environment. Running best practise analyser and readiness checks to ensure the upgrade would run as smooth as possible. Inventas also recommended the hardware specification required for the current infrastructure size and taking into account future growth for storage.
Stage 2 – Upgrade Active Directory schema and domains to be ready for Exchange 2010. As with most versions of exchange upgrades at the schema level and domain level in Active Directory are an important step and done separately to ensure replication across the whole AD Forest was successful.
Stage 3 – Installation of the UK Exchange server began with the configuration of the hardware and ensuring the new server fully worked on the existing domain. The installation of Microsoft Exchange 2010 is now in full swing and roles are being installed to the server for their requirements. Mailflow is then thoroughly tested between the various exchange 2003 servers and external email. Once this was confirmed as working, mailboxes were moved and public folders replicated to the new server. The moving of mailboxes is the most time consuming task and due to wanting to minimize disruption mailboxes were moved evenings and weekends.
Stage 4 – Germany Exchange 2010 upgrade followed in similar fashion to the UK upgrade. Once again Active Directory upgrades were completed allowing for seamless integration and installation of Exchange 2010 into the German domain. Local IT then completed the task of moving mailboxes. With both UK and German exchanges up to 2010 and communication in sync, it was then decided to configure a Client Access Server proxy. This allows for universal URL login for Microsoft Outlook Web Access, Microsoft Outlook Anywhere and Microsoft Active Sync regardless of which mailbox server the user resides on.
Summary of Project
The scope and geographical location differences between sites made this project interesting to work on and a challenge to ensure minimal disruption to users. Overall the planning and co-ordination between Inventas and internal IT was of paramount importance. This co-operation ensured that from project management to installation all items in the scope of the project were delivered on time and within budget.
Since the new system has been in place Inventas also migrated their entire anti-spam service to a cloud based system that has delivered many benefits. These have included newsletter detection, better tracking of emails, policy based rules and overall a better experience with end users receiving less spam.
“For us as a Pharmaceutical Company with 500 mailboxes over four sites across Europe, it is extremely important that any changes to our Infrastructure are both compliant and planning is a top priority to ensure no disruption to our business is experienced. We used the services provided by Inventas to plan, implement and migrate our Exchange Servers from 2003 to 2010.
Inventas conducted the work very thoroughly from the planning stage to the migration for the mail. The migration was very smooth and post migration questions were handled very quickly with no disruption to mail for any of our users. They even created documentation and a training session for our IT.
I would have no hesitation in recommending them for major infrastructure project and will be using them again for other projects we may have.”
Allergy Therapeutics plc