E mail & storage in the cloud


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E mail & storage in the cloud

  1. 1. e-mail & Storage in the CloudCase Study
  2. 2. 2Case StudyKey Drivers■ Limitations on server capacity.■ Limitations of buildings.■ 24/7 demand for storage.■ Demand for access on mobiledevices.■ Need to integrate informationsystems.■ Flexible capacity.■ of contact after students leavethe College.Intended BeneficiariesStudents StaffColleges and ProjectsAccrington Rossendale Office 365 roll out - Lancashire Colleges Shared ServicesPartnershipEast Riding College Office 365 CloudExeter College Student Storage and Collaboration in the CloudGrimsby Institute GIFHE ZoneHartlepool College Email in the CloudHighbury College Cloud Computing ProjectNorthampton Phase 2 Office 365 Student Migration ProjectNorth East Worcestershire College Using Software as service to deliver cloud based email andoffice toolsReaseheath College Office 365 ProjectXaverian College Migration to Office 365 from a Novell delivered applicationand mail systemSummaryThis set of projects is concerned with a number of ways of moving College e-mail and storage to theCloud. This has been achieved largely by the use of Microsoft 365 or Google Mail. One of these projectsachieved this through sharing e-mail and storage cloud services within a group of Colleges. A numberof these projects also used Microsoft 365 and Google Apps to make applications available through theCloud. Another project is progressively integrating the college’s IT infrastructure with that of a CloudProvider.
  3. 3. 3Case StudyImpact to date and anticipatedThe impact of these projects includes continuity of access to e-mail and storage by students and staff ona wide range of College, home and mobile devices and the ability to allocate appropriate levels of datastorage to students and staff. Another feature is the enabling of document sharing and single sign on,which will facilitate collaborative working. All of this should contribute to increased student and staffproductivity.Accrington and Rossendale College: “A collaborative procurement project to migrate from traditional,low capacity, on-premise email and storage provision to the Office 365 cloud delivered platform.Office 365 gives our learners the resources that we couldn’t have provided economically prior to theimplementation – more storage capacity in the cloud and the ability to access their data from anywhereand on mobile devices. Losing their work on pen drives that go astray is a thing of the past!”Supplier engagement experiencesExeter College: “Faced with ever-increasing demand for storage and access to productivity applicationsand data, anytime, anyplace, this project aims to ensure students expectations are met without the needto add further hardware in-house. The College datacentres are at capacity and it is hoped that this projectwill mark the beginning of a process of moving a significant proportion of the Colleges systems to cloud- hosted environments. In turn we anticipate improved business efficiency and user experience.”Grimsby Institute: “Student e-mail is now swapped to GOOGLE mail. This opens up other GOOGLEapps for students to use - such as GOOGLE docs etc. This swap will allow easier students access toe-mail on their own devices. The adoption of Google Mail and Google Apps has gone really well. We arecurrently averaging around 350 unique users of the system daily. To facilitate our cloud desktop, a newe-mail system was set up for our learners. Google Mail also allows access to Google Apps – giving ourlearners access to feature-rich collaboration tools – all hosted in the cloud. At present we have 16,000accounts on Google, averaging around 1300 logons per day”.North East Worcestershire College “Cloud based email storage. This will allow us to remove ourexchange server and reduce the amount of space and time taken up with email backups, as GoogleVault will essentially replace our email backup procedure. This will see an estimated reduction of600GB and reduce the nightly backup time by around 2 hours. Cloud based document storage hasallowed staff to upload, create and share documents with 5GB storage. The real advantages herehave been seen in the ability to create and edit documents on mobile devices and the ability toshare documents with others, including students, allowing for paperless assignment feedback andsubmission, inside and out of our VLEcloud based email storage. Single sign on – this has allowed staff and students access to over 40resources, not just the cloud based storage and email. This has reduced the amount of training requiredto access resources and removed some of the pressure of LRC staff in helping users locate usernames andpasswords for the various tools.”
  4. 4. 4Case StudyXaverian College “Mail is now managed by a third party with guaranteed 99.9% up time, something thatthe College would never have been able to guarantee. Together with additional functionality, includingcalendars and shared contacts, the College is now in a position to share information internally in a muchmore efficient manner. The ease with which the Office 365 system can be added to users own devices(including tablets and other mobile devices) has born immediate fruit with College managers of alllevels receiving information on the go and not having to log on to a work station to identify issues to bedealt with”.Supplier engagement experiencesCommon themes which have emerged here are difficulties caused by the timing of the discontinuing of Microsoft’sLive@edu and implementation challenges with Microsoft 365. Another challenge was upgrading band widththrough JANET where required. Colleges stressed that time should be allowed for evaluation of alternativeapproaches.Hartlepool College: “A number of suppliers have demonstrated both Google apps and Microsoft 365 to membersof the Executive and ILT policy committee and a month long evaluations of Google and 365 has taken place. Asample group of students provided their feedback on their preferences. Quotes have been received and evaluated.A sample group of students were interviewed as to their preference. The vast majority preferred Microsoft 365 toGoogle. The evaluation period has taken longer than originally intended, this was due to the number of suppliersinvolved and problems with meetings being delayed/postponed due to staff/suppliers availability etc.”.Northampton College: “We followed the procedures recommended by Microsoft to set up Live@Edu and some testaccounts. These worked well. They were reasonably simple to access and had 10GB of mail and 25GB of documentstorage and access to Microsoft Office Apps on line.Microsoft then decided to discontinue Live@Edu and replace it with Office365 instead. We were advised byMicrosoft to discontinue the existing setup and start again. The changeover to Office 365 involved the creation of 5new authentication servers, a great deal of technical time and much interaction with Microsoft, which was not aneasy process. Microsoft then also changed the storage quotas to 500MB of SharePoint storage instead of 25GB ofnormal on-line storage”.North East Worcestershire College: “Using the JISC Community of practice helped find a supplier based onrecommendations and real life project work completed”.Technical and Security ChallengesEast Riding College:” The functionality of Office365 does not offer a straightforward interface to Web Apps and on-line storage. Until Office365 can provide this, we are promoting the use of Microsoft SkyDrive through our LRC’s.Firewall and web filter configurations have been modified to support this”.Highbury College;” It is believed that all data cannot be put into the cloud due to it being seen as single point offailure, size of data and security risk. It is also believed that organisation data centres could put up costs and leadto vendor lock in”.Xaverian College: “The complexities of an individual institution’s systems cannot be fully catered for in third partysoftware documentation. Assumptions that ‘it should work’ on key operational systems does not mitigate risk. TheCollege wasted valuable ‘summer holiday’ time rectifying a possibly avoidable situation of system failure.”
  5. 5. 5Case StudyChange Management experienceCommon themes which have emerged here are difficulties caused by the timing of the discontinuing of Microsoft’sChange management experiences included the challenge of maintaining e-mail access for learners whilsttheir accounts are migrated to the Cloud and the need for user training.Accrington and Rossendale College: “There was an issue in going live during term time. The migrationprocess can take a number of days, and during this time students will have no email access. This,however, took place over the half-term holiday period to minimise the impact. Due to the complexitiesand logistics of operating as a consortium of four individual colleges, some of our ability to react quicklyto the creation and agreement of tender documents is sacrificed. In future projects, we would aim toconsolidate this process into a much tighter time frame, leaving more time after supplier appointment toeffectively plan and deliver the solution”.North East Worcestershire College:” Change management was done through a series of pilot groupsfocusing on different features of the product. These pilot groups’ information was then shared withthe whole organisation to allow all to see the pros and cons of each tool. This was also then linked totraining and support materials on these. Issues around staff change - staff were initially wary of usinga cloud based service to host files and were worried about issues of access - could they get them allthe time etc.? Issues around training - initially we did Google apps training as one thing but realisedquickly that we had to break down each individual element and work on supporting staff on eachelement of the app family”.Reaseheath College:” The change management aspects were mostly transparent to the end user. The mainchange process was carried out of a term break which allowed us to issue training and guides for use”.Return on InvestmentWhilst some colleges regard it as too early to identify savings, a significant proportion have identifiedspecific and general savings in items such as exchange servers, associated licences and considerabletechnical staff support time.Accrington and Rossendale College: “Across 4 Colleges £52,000 over 4 years”.Xaverian College: “Before the advent of this cloud computing project, the College dedicated a significantamount of technical support time to the daily management of its email system. The Mercury serverand its Pegasus end user client was the domain of a single member of the network support team withspecialist knowledge. As the College has grown year on year with ever constrained finances, the useof a full time member of the team was becoming untenable. Moving to Office 365 has meant thatmanagement of email is now distributed across the network team with the vast majority of technicalmanagement handled by a third party. This has resulted in much needed support available in managingthe in house systems still present”.
  6. 6. 6Case StudyLessons LearnedHighbury College: “Close monitoring and communication of external providers is essential for thesuccess of the project”.North East Worcestershire College: “We would have worked on understanding the training needsrequired to fully grasp the tool sets and features available. Full roll out to everyone was ambitiousbut as more people make use of the tools, more are moving towards the platform”.Reaseheath College: “We would have carried it out as soon as the 2011-2012 academic year finished.”
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  8. 8. © Association of Colleges 20132 - 5 Stedham Place, London WC1A 1HUTel: 020 7034 9900 Fax: 020 7034 9950Email: sharedservices@aoc.co.uk Website: www.aoc.co.uk@info_AoCWith thanks to all project partners who contributed to the developmentof this case study and consultant Chris West