FSU LogoFlorida State University (FSU), is one of the top 15 universities nationally receiving physical sciences funding from the National Science Foundation. FSU is one of the largest and oldest of the 11 institutions of higher learning in the State University System.  FSU has added to its academic organization and presently is composed of 16 independent colleges.

Information Technology Services (ITS) is the central IT organization for Florida State University, providing IT support to a diverse community of more than 50,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and retirees. ITS is dedicated to delivering an effective, comprehensive and secure technology infrastructure. ITS partners with university academic, research and administrative units to evaluate IT needs and implement technology solutions that support mission-critical work. Nearly 100 IT services are available to the university, including messaging (email and chat), telephony, networking, website development, desktop support and online training. Through these services, ITS provisions the tools to enable excellence in education, advances in research and continuous improvement throughout the university.

PROBLEM

FSU has leveraged Microsoft’s education cloud service Office 365 for future expansion, stability and on the go, access anywhere software solution to students and faculty. Due to the size and complexity of the FSU’s existing messaging technology, Office 365 provides the necessary system integration for FSU to continue to leverage the solutions while expanding in to Microsoft cloud services. Office 365 also meets the Florida state standards for email retention and records requests.

FSU’s large complex on-premise Exchange 2010 messaging system migration required an Exchange hybrid solution implementation for coexistence with the Exchange online cloud.

APPROACH

Florida State University (FSU) Office 365 migration was accomplished with two separate projects. The first project was to migrated only the student mailboxes from live.edu with Microsoft 365. This was accomplished with a Microsoft Exchange 2010 Hybrid migration infrastructure, Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) and DirSync implementation. ISC completed the implementation and testing, enabling Microsoft to perform the actual mailbox moves from Microsoft live.edu cloud service to Office 365.

The second migration project was to move 26,000 FSU staff mailboxes to Office 365. ISC utilized Microsoft’s Exchange 2010 Hybrid configuration to provide the migration engine and coexistence between the on-premise Exchange 2010 environment and Office 365 Exchange online. The challenge with FSU migrations was the share volume of users and data that needed migration to Office 365. FSU has approximately 26,000 mail enabled users that are separated into multiple schools. ISC leveraged the existing ADFS infrastructure from the preceding project to handle the authentication traffic back to the authoritative on premise Active Directory. The largest challenge with FSU was project schedule management and communication logistics to coordinate the migrations of the multiple schools with minimal business interruption.

SOLUTION

A hybrid deployment offers the ability to extend the feature-rich experience and administrative. A hybrid deployment provides the seamless look and feel of a single Exchange organization between an on-premises Exchange organization and Exchange Online in Microsoft Office 365. In addition, a hybrid deployment serves as an intermediate step to moving completely to an Exchange Online. Secure mail routing between on-premises and Exchange Online.

This solution provides the following functionality: Mail routing with shared domain namespace(s). A unified global address list (GAL). Free/busy and calendar sharing between on-premises and Office 365. Centralized control of inbound and outbound mail flow. A single Outlook Web Access (OWA) URL for both the on-premises and Office 365. Bidirectional Exchange mailbox migration. Centralized mailbox management using the on-premises Exchange admin center (EAC). Message tracking, MailTips, and multi-mailbox search. Cloud-based message archiving for on-premises Exchange mailboxes.

RESULTS

FSU has leveraged Microsoft’s education cloud service Office 365 for future expansion, stability and on the go, access anywhere software solution to students and faculty. Due to the size and complexity of the FSU’s existing messaging technology, Office 365 provides the necessary system integration for FSU to continue to leverage the solutions while expanding in to Microsoft cloud services. Office 365 also meets the Florida state standards for email retention and records requests.

Administration – Cloud solutions should be easy to administer allowing organizations to become self-sufficient.  Office 365 allows you to easily add new users, reset passwords, add services and storage, and much more through an easy to use web based interface.

Scalability – With Office 365, an organization can scale from 100 to 1000 overnight.  Office 365 is built for organizations as small as a few staff members up to a Fortune 500.  For example, Patagonia, JetBlue, and the American Heart Association are just some of the newest Enterprise customers of Office 365.  Just add the licenses you need to your account and the services are available immediately!

Security – A common myth about cloud computing is that it is somehow less secure then hosting your own servers and data onsite.  However, organizations typically invest very little in security for their networks to ensure their data and applications are adequately protected.  Often their security investments are limited to a single firewall. Microsoft spends millions of dollars annually to ensure your data is safe and secure.  This includes extensive physical security at their datacenters, intrusion detection systems, and a crack team of security professionals that monitor your systems around the clock.

Disaster Recovery – All businesses are vulnerable to disasters, natural and man-made, and loss of business data can cause irreparable harm. However, Office 365 with its distributed architecture can provide redundancy with data being stored at multiple datacenters located throughout the United States, making your organization’s data as close as it gets to disaster proof. All businesses are vulnerable to disasters, natural and man-made, and loss of business data can cause irreparable harm. However, Office 365 with its distributed architecture can provide redundancy with data being stored at
multiple datacenters located throughout the United States, making your organization’s data as close as it gets to disaster proof.

Mobility and Remote Access – We see evidence every day that business has evolved into a “Post-PC” world as staff, clients, and partners demand access to data and applications on their smartphones, tablets, mobile devices.  Office 365 is built from the ground up as a mobile solution.   You will have access to documents, emails, and data from any mobile device with an internet connection.  In addition to accessing services via your mobile device, Office 365 is also built to provide access to services for PCs anywhere with an internet connection.  This eliminates the need for complex and expensive solutions like terminal servers and VPNs to access email, documents, and collaboration services.  No matter where you go, if you have an internet connection, Office 365 services are available to you.

Software Updates – Many organizations are forced to wait to adopt the newest software until budget permits.  Office 365 radically changes the software purchasing model by moving Microsoft customers to a subscription fee vs. a onetime purchase.  With Office 365, customers receive the latest updates to Microsoft Office Professional, Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync included in their subscription.  In addition, Microsoft has committed to releasing periodic feature releases every year that will expand the capabilities of 365 without an additional cost to the subscriber.

Cost of Ownership – Organizations can save up to 70% or more on their annual IT expenditures by leveraging cloud technologies.  How is this possible?  It’s the same concept as building a car in your garage or writing a check to the Ford Motor Company.  Microsoft does this on a mass scale allowing them to offer Enterprise software at a fraction of the cost.  Therefore, with Office 365, organizations eliminate buying new servers and software every 3-5 years as well as their associated maintenance costs. Due to the uncertain economy, many organizations are wary of investing their tight budgets in projects deemed unessential. However, if they follow the “more with less” rule and invest in some good service management for their IT service desk, the resulting cost savings will free resources that can be invested in this type of asset. The adoption of Exchange Online, in turn, will allow more efficient use of IT by end users and help the service desk run more smoothly, thus engaging in a cycle of reciprocal benefits.

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