Friday, April 17, 2009

Sea Change

While we still don't have our imaging show-stopper taken care of, we're a lot closer. In fact, we're about to download the latest version of our image on ISO's to test, and if the 'fix' we've received does the trick, we'll finally be able to deploy our desktop and laptop hardware - about three months late.

On another front, we were able to migrate off of Novell GroupWise and on to Exchange 2007, with surprisingly little fuss. We used ZENworks to deploy Office 2007 silently, and with all of our Outlook settings pre-populated. We obviously deployed Microsoft Active Directory, using Server 2008 and native mode (I think).

Finally, we dropped our Novell licenses in favor of renewing only the ZEN 10 products for configuration management, asset management, and patch management. This allows us to bring forward the ZEN functionality we were unable to find anywhere else, while finally ridding ourselves of this increasingly cumbersome Novell infrastructure.

We're looking forward to taking full advantage of MS Server 2008 features such as DFS, to simplify backups, file & printer sharing, etc. at our remote sites. We'll be looking closely at Cisco WAAS products in this space.

We've also integrated our network with that of a recent acquisition, using an internet-based VAS Half Tunnel from Sprint. The connection between our networks is 10Mbps, which performs very well so far despite lack of end-to-end CoS/QoS tagging (call it what you want). The next steps there are to basically import their users and e-mail into our AD and Exchange system, using local servers, and begin doing some cool DR stuff using VMware and (hopefully) NetApp storage at the far end.

Despite the bad economy, we're busier than ever. We're nearly finished implementing Microsoft SharePoint (MOSS 2007), and are about to implement Microsoft OCS as well.

The complexion of this environment has undergone rapid, radical change, and we've been successful at facilitating this change with a very small but talented group of individuals. It took around 1,200 man hours over a month to get Exchange in place, and we completed the migration in less than 72 hours. After some post-implementation firefighting, we're pretty confident that we didn't lose a single mailbox, address book, or archive.

Our satisfaction survey following the Outlook/Exchange migration was overwhelmingly positive. In fact, only two of our roughly 500 employees had nothing positive to say. Many went out of their way to complement us on the process, and the decision to do so. Happy customers are a good thing.

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