Corporate Housing Victoria, with offices in Melbourne, Perth and Karratha as well as in the Philippines, offers executive level serviced apartments to long-stay business travellers.
CHV asked JMIW to consolidate a series of on-premises and privately hosted servers and services, including Hosted Exchange, Hosted Dynamics CRM, internal file server and local desktop storage, which were all hosted and managed by different providers. Desktop Office clients weren’t standardised, with a mixture of the 2007, 2010 and 2013 versions in use across the organisation.
We needed to unify services under a single umbrella at the same time as supporting all existing functionality. We knew CHV needed something that could be expanded in the future but offered stability and flexibility immediately and into the medium term, and be usable on low bandwidth connections in the Philippines. All this and it had to be affordable too!
Having weighed up all the options, JMIW recommended Microsoft Office 365 as the best choice for CHV. We knew the level of security and support, with data centres in and around the APAC region and a single source of support through Microsoft, would suit them. We could also rely on Office 365 integrating seamlessly with Dynamics CRM, Outlook, Box.com and other services such as Skype for Business. In addition, Office 365 works well from a user’s perspective, allowing them to work from mobile devices as well as computers.
Meeting challenges along the way
The Hosted Exchange environment previously used by CHV posed particular challenges for migration. Based on an outdated version of WebsitePanel, it lacked the connectors and Powershell command functionality to support Office 365’s built in migration service. As well, WebsitePanel doesn’t export to a standard format file. It was possible but impractical to download every Exchange account into a desktop Outlook client and export them as PSTs before re-uploading them into Office 365. Instead, we decided to use BitTitan’s MigrationWiz service. It was able to interface with the Hosted Exchange environment and migrate 125GB of email data contained within 22 accounts to Office 365 in roughly 8 hours.
Once the Office 365 environment was configured and data was migrated, we noticed during desktop setup that an outdated version of the Dynamics CRM/Outlook connector on some desktops would cause Outlook to crash when connecting to Office 365. We solved this problem by opening Outlook in Safe Mode and then disabling the connector until a new connector could be supplied.
Local desktop environments in some CHV offices were managed by AD servers that contained hard-set DNS records pointing to the old Hosted Exchange environment’s auto discover service. We needed to find a work-around. Instead of using a manual process that wouldn’t have worked on every version of Outlook, we set the local HOSTS file records for each user machine to point autodiscover.exampledomain.com to one of the several working IP addresses of autodiscover.outlook.com.
- Ease of use and understanding – a standard operating environment, reduced number of vendors, and centralised management of services, licenses and users all make for easy management and simplified forward planning
- Low initial investment and obvious savings – the monthly subscription prices on a per user basis were far below the cost charged by the existing Hosted Exchange vendor
- 2016 feature set – CHV now has access to the contemporary feature set of Office 365 in combination with Office 2016, allowing for further integration and automated workflow.