Company: Seminole State College of Florida
Overview: Seminole State previously used Exchange 2010 for employee emailing and scheduling. They needed help migrating to a new solution that would improve reliability and reduce downtime and maintenance needs.
Solution: Office 365 hybrid migration
Seminole State College of Florida is a public college with four campuses in central Florida serving 30,000 students and more than 1,500 employees.
Before moving to Office 365, Seminole State used Exchange 2010 for employee emailing and scheduling.
Students had cloud mailboxes while faculty remained on premises with Exchange. Because students and faculty weren’t sharing the same address book space, students had difficulty locating professor emails.
Beyond addressing inconsistent email addresses, the IT team at Seminole State was drawn to the features and capabilities of Office 365. A Office 365 hybrid migration offered the college greater uptime, management tools and applications they could tie in with Exchange, said Erik Schoneck, Senior Systems Analyst.
More specifically, Schoneck and System Specialist Orlando Carroll were looking to:
- Maintain zero downtime and improve reliability: The IT team at Seminole State wanted to better manage uptime. A hybrid Office 365 environment provided zero downtime for employees.
- Reduce local server footprint: Going hybrid with Office 365 would reduce the college’s servers from eight to two — cutting much of their physical hardware and server maintenance costs.
- Enable single sign-on: Syncing Active Directory accounts would enable auto provisioning of account details within Office 365 and secure single sign-on for staff members.
- Gain online management tools: Managing the hybrid environment from one central location would give the IT team visibility into issues and streamline admin tasks.
- Access additional applications: Schoneck and Carroll plan to implement new applications like OneDrive, which comes free with an Office 365 subscription.
- Tighten security: Features like data loss prevention, threat management and in-place holding and archiving would strengthen the college’s on-premises security.
- Reduce server maintenance: Before moving to Office 365, Schoneck spent 25 percent of his time managing servers. By consolidating servers, Schoneck could significantly lower the weekly time investment.
- Reduce size of hybrid deployment. With Office 365, Seminole State could drop down to single hub/cas server and host mailboxes on premises, eliminating the need for database servers.
Even with a 40-person IT department, Seminole State needed help planning and executing a complex hybrid migration. Unlike a typical cutover migration, keeping some components on premises and others in the cloud required a unique technical skill set.
Seminole State trusted Agile IT with its Office 365 hybrid migration. The migration process Agile IT outlined consisted of the following phases:
Data discovery: During the data discovery meeting, Agile IT engineers walked Schoneck and Carroll through the SharePoint project, gained Office 365 tenant access and delivered the implementation plan.
Project build: Over a two-week period, Agile IT repaired the SSL certification, deployed Active Directory Connect and began staging email for pilot users. “Our engineer addressed issues immediately, if not, he would get back in a timely fashion,” Schoneck said.
Pilot: In the third phase, Agile IT engineers migrated pilot users and began staging email for migration batches, trained admins and finalized the migration plan and details. “We made sure to follow Agile IT’s advice,” Schoneck “For instance, anyone with shared mailboxes had to be migrated together.”
Migration: Before the migration, the team discussed any last-minute issues or changes that occurred between the Go-No-Go and migration. Next steps included modifying DNS records, configuring phones and tablets and verifying all mail had been migrated. Frequent status updates also kept the Schoneck and Carroll in the loop.
Post-migration support: Working with Agile IT, Seminole State staff received training and support to ease the transition for users. To users, the change was transparent, Schoneck said. The only difference was if employees logged in off campus, they would have to navigate to a new place.
Agile IT also helped Seminole State expose and overcome unexpected migration roadblocks.
For instance, the Office 365 hybrid migration required Seminole State to change from SQL express to SQL. Agile IT caught the issue early so the team could fix it and move on.
Some components of Seminole State’s on-premises infrastructure had also been incorrectly set up.
The Azure AD sync connector was running on a different database, some rights were incorrectly set up and some roles had discrepancies. Agile IT identified those issues and quickly led to a fix, Schoneck said.
Post-migration, Schoneck and Carroll have already seen a huge reduction in IT management tasks.
Schoneck has offloaded tasks like local provisioning in AD and cloud management to Orlando who now spends only a few hours a week managing servers and supporting employees. Now, Schoneck is free to focus on maximizing the organization’s IT resources through VMWare virtualization technologies.
Since the move to Office 365, Carroll can now manage extra features from one console area, saving time. Expanding beyond homegrown management tools to Office 365 has also provided the team with new insights into their IT environment.
By partnering with Agile IT, Seminole State also:
- Streamlined and consolidated all email and scheduling into a single secure solution
- Standardized Office suite versions and remove the burden of manually upgrading
- Improved collaboration throughout the organization
- Seamlessly migrated to Office 365 with minimal impact to business
Now, with a global cloud address book, students can more easily find and contact professors.
“My experience working with Agile IT was great,” Schoneck said. “Once the project started, the process went quickly. We followed the path the Agile IT engineers outlined, which helped the project move smoothly.