This is an interesting webcast where Serena Software talks about their migration from an on-premise email system (Exchange) to a cloud-based solution (the well-known Google Apps)
Many IT teams feel threatened by cloud based services because they are not under their direct control. However, forward-thinking IT teams realise that the right strategy is to embrace the cloud, let someone else manage commodity services (such as email), enabling them to focus on tasks that provide a direct business benefit.
For example, email does not provide a competitive advantage, because everyone has email. It is a massively important and critical part of a business operation, but in essence it’s a commoditized service that should just always work, much like a utility such as electricity and water.
I like this story because Serena is firmly in the “forward thinking” camp – the technology that they migrated to and from is not really important – however the principle of using cloud based services for things like email is something that I think more businesses could benefit from.
Some interesting points from the presentation:
- Serena software wanted to increase each user’s mailbox from the current 150MB, mainly for the purpose of e-discovery which is very difficult with the current setup because everyone archives their mail to PST (personal folder) files. The process of finding emails stored in these PSTs in the event of a legal requirement to do so, would be very difficult. With Google each user gets 25GB of storage so there is no need for people to use PST files.
- The cost of increasing each user’s mailbox to even 1.5GB would have been pretty expensive. They say that they’ve saved $750K – calculating what they would have spent versus what they did spend.
- They used this migration as an opportunity to reduce the number of distribution lists from 600+ to 26!
- They went for a “big bang” approach – mainly due to calendaring. For example if you had half the company on Google and the other half on exchange you could have some sync issues with meeting requests etc. so it’s better to switch everyone at once.
- They did a few “practice migrations” with 4 pilot groups, testing their training documentation, user guides etc. They had it right by the time they did the 4th pilot group.
- They didn’t actually migrate the user’s mailboxes, but provided guidance for people in the event that they did want to do this themselves. This meant that the actual migration day work was only 6 hours work for 2 people.
- Lastly, for unified communications they used a solution called vmerge from Voice Mobility, which seems to offer good integration with google apps.