How we completed an Office 365 Migration Project for a Co-educational Academy – A Case Study.

November 17, 2017
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How we helped a successful co-educational Academy replace its dated Exchange server and Microsoft applications with Office 365 Education.

This was the challenge.

  • The school needed to replace its dated in-house Exchange email server with an updated solution.
  • There was an urgency to replace the server because support  for Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 ends in 2018.
  • This needed to be achieved on a restricted budget.

This was our solution.

  • Decommission the existing Exchange server and migrate all functions to the Office 365 for Education E5 subscription.
  • Setup the school’s existing desktop and mobile devices to connect to Office 365.
  • Configure multiple ‘departmental’ mailboxes that can be accessed by selected staff members, allowing them to connect and collaborate on emails, calendars and task lists.
  • Ensure the heads of staff have access to all inboxes in a way that is organised and controlled.
  • Train the existing ICT staff ‘on the job’ on how to implement Office 365 and roll out future Office 365 updates.
  • Implement Active Directory Federation Services (AFDS) single sign-on and web-based authentication as an added layer of security.

And this was the outcome.

  • The school achieved its goal of implementing a future-proof email solution that required no upfront capital expenditure.
  • They have  realised a far more efficient organisation of their resources.
  • The senior management team has witnessed an upturn in productivity from both the students and staff, thanks to the flexibility of the Office 365 platform and its many collaborative features.
  • The school has replaced its traditional Microsoft Application licencing model with the 365 productivity suite. This includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and One note, in addition to Skype for Business, Outlook and One Drive, Microsoft’s cloud-based storage solution.
  • Skype for Business has opened up many new learning opportunities for the school, including distance learning and the introduction of new and engaging curricular activities in the classroom that have improved the students overall learning experience.

Continue reading our school wireless upgrade case study

Continue reading to find out how we delivered this Office 365 Education Migration Project.

About the school.

This case study is for a recent Office 365 Education migration project that we completed for a successful co-educational academy with a sixth form that has recently been rated as outstanding by OFSTED.

The school is home to approximately 650 students and roughly 150 staff members. They recently demonstrated exceptional performance in the most recent league tables, comfortably exceeding the national average. Based on the Essex/East London border, the school was recently listed in the top 100 for sustained improvement in its academic courses.

The Challenge – It started with a dying Exchange Server.

The school’s email was being hosted on an outdated on-premise server that was running Microsoft Exchange Server 2013.  The school was aware that the server hardware needed replacing years ago. However, budgetary constraints meant that the IT Manager was asked to keep the server operational for as long as possible.

Eventually.

father time caught up with the ailing hardware and it wasn’t long before the IT Manager started to receive a growing number of complaints about email performance from both the staff and the students.

In addition.

The IT staff had also made the school’s Business Development Manager aware of the fact that support for Exchange Server 2013 ends next year. This would make the server unsecure because Microsoft will no longer publish service packs and Windows updates after this time.  This situation was unacceptable, especially with the new GDPR compliance regulations on the horizon.

Budget was an issue.

The school’s ICT budget had been unavoidably restricted in recent years due to essential investment in other areas of their infrastructure. Because of this, the school needed a solution that required minimal upfront investment.

Helping the schools ICT department.

“The IT staff did an amazing job of keeping the server going for as long as they did, but it wasn’t going to last forever. The IT Manager was telling me that we had to act, so we started looking for a partner to help us make the transition to a new email platform.”

The school’s ICT Manager was convinced that moving to Office 365 was the logical choice for many reasons outlined in this case study. However, they were unfamiliar with the platform and had no prior experience with migration of an existing Exchange server to an Office 365 environment.

 

The solution – Office 365 Education.

Finding the right partner.

The ICT Manager spoke with their counterparts at neighbouring schools and asked them to recommend an IT consultant they had worked with in the past that could help them with an email migration project. They were also keen on finding a partner that would work closely with the ICT staff during the migration process so they could share their knowledge and skills.

They were recommended to Our ICT by a junior school where we had recently completed an ICT suite refresh project. They knew we had experience implementing Office 365 in both commercial and education environments and they had no reservations about recommending us following the success of their project.

Initial consultation meeting.

Our principal project manager arranged a meeting with the school’s ICT Manager, the Business Development Manager and the heads of staff to review and understand their existing Exchange Server setup as well as discuss their requirements from Office 365 in detail before committing to the project.

Following this meeting, we presented the school with a proposal that incorporates a full scope of processes and project outcomes. We proposed the following:

  • Decommission of the existing Exchange server by migrating all their functions to an Office 365 for Education E5 subscription.
  • Setup all the school’s existing desktop and mobile devices to connect to Office 365.
  • Configure multiple ‘departmental’ mailboxes that can be accessed by selected staff members, allowing them to connect and collaborate on emails, calendars and task lists.
  • Ensure the heads of staff have access to all inboxes in a way that is organised and controlled.
  • Train the existing ICT staff ‘on the job’ on how to implement Office 365 and roll out future Office 365 updates.
  • As an added layer of security, we implemented Active Directory Federation Services (AFDS) single sign-on and web-based authentication.

As agreed with the heads of staff, the migration would take place over the half term holidays to avoid disruption to the school’s curricular activities.

Why did we recommend Office 365 Education E5 instead of the free version?

The additional features would benefit the school.

Office 365 Education E5 includes all the features of the free edition. Additionally, there are desktop versions of Office on PC/Mac with apps for tablets and smartphones, additional security features, Skype for Business meetings and voice capabilities.

The ratio of iPads to desktops being used at the school is high.

Because of this, they were very keen to use the version of Office 365 that included apps for tablets in order to make it easier for both the students and staff to access their emails and other Office 365 applications.

In addition.

the school was very keen to promote distance learning by introducing video conferencing capabilities to the school. The advanced Skype for Business solution was perfect for classroom activities such as virtual field trips, guest speakers, Skype lessons and collaborations with other schools.

In comparison to the upfront costs involved with upgrading the existing on-premise Exchange server, the school was happy to pay the per user subscription cost to access the additional features in Office 365 Education E5 at a lower cost.

Our ICT has built a reputation for being experts at cloud migration projects. Following conversations with our referrals, the school was happy to sign off on the proposal and our project management team started to plan the project in advance of half term.

Did you know?

Microsoft has a great collection of resources for teachers that support Skype in the classroom activities. Click here to access Microsofts material for teachers.

Other Office 365 Education advantages.

This case study focuses on Office 365’s email capabilities, but this is only half the reason why the IT Manager wanted to migrate to the platform.

In addition to email, Office 365 is a productivity suite that includes a full range of Microsoft applications that can be used by all the students and staff. These applications include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and One note, in addition to Skype for Business, Outlook and One Drive, Microsoft’s cloud-based storage solution.

Greater flexibility.

The desktop version of these applications can be installed locally on up to 5 PCs or Macs per license because the school purchased Microsoft Office 365 E5. Any content that’s created locally can be stored in One Drive and accessed from the web version of Office 365 apps or another desktop that has Office 365 installed.

Because it is a cloud platform, Office 365 will open up numerous opportunities for the school to increase student productivity and encourage students to collaborate on tasks both on-campus and when completing their homework.

It also gives students the opportunity to get more ‘hands on’ day-to-day with tools and applications they’ll be using in the future.

Security.

Office 365 has extensive privacy features in addition to industry leading anti-virus and anti-spam solutions included as standard.

The financial advantage.

By using the Office 365 suite of applications, the school’s application and storage servers will become redundant and can be decommissioned during the migration project. The school will no longer have to invest in upgrading the Microsoft office licenses on their desktop machines – saving the school a substantial sum of money in the long term.

Project Implementation.

The project was completed successfully on-time and within budget during half term. We worked closely with the ICT Manager and their team at every stage of the project so they understood how the migration process works and how to rollout desktop and mobile versions of Office 365 successfully in the future.

We completed the following tasks:

  • Setup 500 student and 100 faculty accounts in Office 365.
  • Create the new departmental Outlook accounts.
  • Implement Active Directory Federation Services single sign-on.
  • Verify the school’s domains within their Office 365 administration portal.
  • Migrate all historical email data from Exchange 2013 to Office 365.
  • Setup and configure the desktop version of Office 365 on all PCs in the classrooms and the ICT suite.
  • Install and configure Office 365 Apps on all the school tablet devices.
  • Configure permissions and distribution lists, setup security groups and shared access to the departmental mailboxes.
  • Decommission the now redundant on premise 2013 Microsoft Exchange Server, file server and application server.

Al of the above was completed successfully without any disruption to the school curriculum.

Project Outcomes.

  • Thanks to the collaboration between Our ICT and the school’s ICT Manager, the school has achieved its goal of implementing a future-proof email solution that required no upfront capital expenditure.
  • The school has now realised a far more efficient organisation of their resources and the senior management team has witnessed an upturn in productivity from both the students and staff, thanks to the flexibility of the Office 365 platform and its many collaborative features.
  • Skype for Business has opened up many new learning opportunities for the school, including distance learning and the introduction of new and engaging curricular activities in the classroom that have improved the students overall learning experience.
  • The school has an added layer of security thanks to Office 365’s anti-virus and anti-spam solutions, in addition to the implementation of ADFS single sign-on.

The financial benefits.

The school has benefited financially by switching to Office 365.

  • Three of the school’s internal Windows Servers have been decommissioned, saving money on energy bills and ongoing maintenance, in addition to the bi-annual cost of hardware/software upgrades.
  • These ongoing costs have been replaced with Office 365’s predictable ‘per user’ monthly cost.
  • The ICT team has more time to focus on other projects which will help advance the school’s ICT infrastructure forward.
  • No upfront capital expenditure was required to implement Office 365, just the cost of our time.

Final thoughts.

The school wanted a partner that had the knowledge and experience required to complete the Office 365 migration project successfully within the time constraints of half term. It was also important for  us to share our knowledge so the school could capitalise on Office 365’s many capabilities in the future.

Thanks to the team at Our ICT, the switch to Office 365 has been a massive success. The school has saved a substantial sum of money by moving to the cloud, their network security has been improved and they are far more organised thanks to the collaboration tools included with the subscription. More importantly, the students and staff have benefitted greatly from the switch because the overall learning experience has improved thanks to applications like Skype for Business.

About Our ICTThanks for reading our Office 365 case study.

Here’s a bit about us.

Our ICT is a Professional ICT outsourcing organisation that provides a comprehensive range of ICT support services and technology solutions exclusively to the UK education sector.

We specialise in delivering Complex ICT projects to a diverse range of schools on time and within budget, including the delivery of Office 365 Education. We are happy to deliver ICT projects both inside and outside of school term time.

We’re an Official Microsoft Gold partner and Education reseller.

Our ICT is a Microsoft Gold partner of 10 years. Microsoft Gold partnership status can only be attained by demonstrating the highest levels of competence with the latest Microsoft technologies.  In addition, Our ICT is an official Microsoft Authorised Education Reseller (MAER), a certification that demonstrates our expertise in Microsoft academic volume licensing. The MAER certification authorises us to purchase and resell Microsoft products to qualifying academic users. Our MAER accreditation also allows us access to resources and tools required to keep our skillset up to date with the latest information on new Microsoft products for the education sector.

ICT Support accreditationsHere’s another happy Our ICT client.

“Our ICT have provided a fantastic service to our school. They are very meticulous and have overhauled ICT at Chapel End Academy.  Problems with our system have been eradicated and any old infrastructure issues are dealt with promptly. I would recommend their services highly.”- Michael Tofi, ICT Coordinator.

It’s good to talk!

If  you’d like to find out more about introducing Office 365 to the classroom then complete the form below to request a callback, or call 020 8501 7670 to speak with a Business Development Manager today.

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