“The ease of using Exchange Pro was a real eye-catcher. It’s intuitive — it really is — and there’s not a lot to it. You configure it, start doing some pilot migrations, check the data throughput, and go from there. Just reading the online help and the user guide was really all the training it required.”
- Howard Griffith, IT Director, Sunshine
Sunshine is an organization that wants to be on the leading edge in its use of technology and takes a proactive approach toward infrastructure maintenance, according to IT Director Howard Griffith. So in early 2011, they started to look for ways to migrate their 788 users from Exchange 2003 to a new Active Directory (AD) forest containing their Exchange 2010 environment. They wanted a tool that would minimize the amount of resources that they would need to devote to the migration project, but also one that would move the mailbox data in an efficient and easily manageable way.
Investing in Infrastructure to Stay Ahead of the Curve
Sunshine decided to go with Binary Tree’s Exchange Pro product after talking with a Binary Tree representative at the Fall 2011 Exchange Connections event—where Exchange Pro was named the Best Exchange/Unified Communications Product. Sunshine had already used Microsoft’s Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT) to successfully migrate user accounts and passwords to a new domain. They just needed to add Exchange 2010 to their environment to complete their transition to an infrastructure consisting of the latest collaboration, database, and communication servers in the Microsoft stack.
Laying the Foundation for a Smooth Migration
Sunshine began their migration project by notifying users a few months in advance that they were migrating to a new Exchange environment. An analysis of their users revealed that most people had mailboxes smaller than 500 MB, but 119 users had mailboxes of 1–3 GB and 45 users had mailboxes larger than 3 GB, with the total amount of data reaching 366 GB.
Sunshine’s IT staff had set up Exchange 2010 in a Hyper-V environment and then installed Exchange Pro on another virtual machine and an instance of SQL Server Express alongside it to facilitate the migration. To familiarize themselves with the Exchange Pro interface and capabilities, Sunshine’s IT staff only needed a phone call with a Binary Tree expert and a short amount of time to read through the online help and product guide.
The installation was fast and easy. No agents needed to be installed on the Exchange servers and no modifications were necessary for AD. Within a couple hours, they were able to run a few test migrations to gauge the duration of the actual mailbox data transfers. In these tests, Sunshine used a representative grouping of large, medium, and small mailboxes to obtain a more accurate reading. In the end, they adjusted the Exchange Client Access Server (CAS) settings to allow six simultaneous mailbox moves and estimated that the migration would require 40–48 hours.
After deciding to migrate all users during a window spanning Friday evening to Sunday evening, Sunshine’s IT staff used Exchange Pro’s built-in message template to send an email that notified everyone of the impending migration. All user migrations were added to the E2E schedule ahead of time and the processing began automatically, unattended, on Friday night. When the project team arrived on Saturday morning to check on the processing they were surprised at the speed of the migration throughput.
Completing the Migration Ahead of Schedule
Sunshine had a 7 GB connection between their source and target servers and were able to migrate data much faster than they had originally estimated, achieving a throughput of 26 GB/hr between the old and new servers. This speedy processing allowed them to complete the mailbox migrations in record time. After just 14 hours that weekend they moved all user mailboxes to the new Exchange 2010 server.
About half of their users were using cached Exchange mode in Outlook, and because Exchange Pro maintains the original mailbox ID’s the users didn’t need to rebuild their local .OST files after the migration. “That part was a life saver,” stated Howard Griffith, IT Director at Sunshine. “Because users didn’t have to rebuild their .OST files we didn’t have to touch anything on their computers to facilitate this migration.”
Reflecting on the project, Griffith said, “I was shocked at the ease of the domain migration. I know how cumbersome it can be to work with Exchange domain migrations, so to have the ability to just plug in some information and have Exchange Pro do the work for you was just amazing. We couldn’t have done it without Binary Tree.”