The following case study was written by Syplex with the permission of the MRC CBU, but does not represent a formal endorsement by the MRC CBU, the MRC, or the University of Cambridge.
The MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (MRC CBU) at the University of Cambridge investigates fundamental cognitive processes such as attention, emotion, language and memory, and aims to translate understanding of these processes into benefits for human health and well-being, for example through work to understand changes in cognition across the lifespan, to develop new treatments for depression, to improve hearing through cochlear implants, or to develop methods to help overcome cognitive difficulties in childhood.
Syplex has undertaken various IT consultancy projects for the MRC Units in Cambridge, including the original installation of Exchange Server 2010 for the MRC CBU, so we were well placed to help when their IT team needed to upgrade to Exchange Server 2016. The original Exchange implementation had served them well, but with the end of life approaching for both Exchange 2010 and the underlying Windows 2008 operating system, the time had come to upgrade.
Our senior consultant worked with the MRC CBU IT team to plan the upgrade, making sure that the correct hardware was in place, investigating potential risks, and developing plans to mitigate those risks. Once that had been done, he worked with the MRC CBU team to carry out the installation and migration, ensuring there was absolutely no interruption of email flow for the Unit's staff.
This was a complex project that involved installing new server hardware and software,installing Exchange 2016, introducing the new servers into an existing environment, migrating the mailboxes, and, finally, removing the 2010 environment.
Our consultant calculated how much capacity would be required to support the volumes of email data generated by the client. He established that the new converged server roles offered by Exchange would allow the client to reduce the number of servers needed to run the environment, thereby saving administration and maintenance time.
During this analysis period, our consultant also spotted points of potential challenge, and made sure they would not cause a problem. A decision was also made to move away from Public Folders to Shared Mailboxes which helped to reduce the complexity of the migration and eliminated a legacy Exchange feature.
Once the MRC CBU team had purchased the required servers and installed the operating system, Syplex’s consultant checked that pre-requisite conditions were met,then installed and configured Exchange Server 2016. He also configured their newly upgraded load balancers, to make best use of their server capacity.
Once the new environment was in place, our consultant migrated the first batch of user email boxes, testing to ensure the process worked smoothly. Then the MRC CBU team took over, migrating the rest in batches overnight to avoid any inconvenience to their users.
The seven Exchange 2010 servers (including edge transports, hub/client access servers, and mailbox servers), were all uninstalled and cleanly removed from the Exchange environment, allowing the old hardware to be retired.
When MRC CBU contacted us they were facing the end of support of their Exchange Server 2010 environment, as well as a dated webmail interface and server hardware that was reaching retirement age.
Now they have a new, more efficient, up-to-date Exchange server environment, which will keep their email system running for years to come.
Syplex were able to offer a bespoke consultancy service to the MRC CBU team, enabling them to access specialist knowledge for the server migration, but to do the work they were comfortable with in-house. The process was completed without any disruption or loss of service to the MRC CBU staff.
"Syplex provided a consultant who had the detailed technical knowledge to implement our Exchange migration, but, equally importantly, who was also easy to work with,and who listened carefully to our requirements and advised us on the solutions that were best for us. The project was carefully planned and smoothly executed,and our users experienced virtually no disruption during the migration process.The flexibility of the service also allowed us to manage project costs and timescales effectively."