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August 6, 2021

Moving Towards Success with Microsoft Office 365 Case Study

Executive Summary

Company: South Tahoe Public Utility District 

Industry: Utilities

Employees: 300

Overview: Migration and implementation from District’s current server and PC-based environment to Microsoft Office 365 solution

Solution: Microsoft Office 365 solution

Background

The South Tahoe Public Utility District is one of the leading public agencies established on September 28, 1950. Exchange to Office 365 Migration is a critical process for such organizations aiming to improve their IT infrastructure. Its focus lies in supplying drinking water and providing sewage collection, treatment, and export to protect Tahoe's delicate ecosystem. Strategically, it intends to deliver exemplary customer service as well as supply reliable and safe water distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, and recycled water land application systems. Moreover, it maximizes appropriate use of technology to improve operational efficiency and prioritize asset replacement.

Opportunity

Being a public agency, South Tahoe had to make sure they remained updated on the technical front to improve business efficiency and resilience while minimizing IT costs. That’s when they requested competitive proposals from qualified companies regularly and continuously engaged in the business to present and manage a Microsoft Office 365 solution Transition ProjectThe project was eventually awarded to Communication Square, a Microsoft Gold partner, to help South Tahoe implement and absorb the innovative technology efficiently. We created a carefully staged project plan, including the project scope and resources involved as well as an achievable timeline with detailed analysis and recommendations.


South Tahoe Public Utility District

We wanted to find a Gold Microsoft partner who had a lot of experience, great reviews and high customer satisfaction scores – we found all of that with Communication Square.

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Chris Skelly
Information Technology Manager

Challenges & Solutions

Introducing a technological change into an organization presents a different set of challenges. Moreover, the plan for the transfer of knowledge from the old operation to the new process is equally critical.

Listed below are some of the challenges posed by this project, along with how our team of Office 365 consultants overcame those challenges and completed the migration smoothly.


Choosing the Right Subscription Plan

Cloud customers ought to pay a monthly fee to be able to enjoy all the services. South Tahoe struggled to accept the higher estimated plans because of expensive cloud services. To overcome the challenge of buying the required licenses, we got the list of users from Brian BartlettNetwork/Telecom Systems Administrator, and the Technical Contact for this project. Keeping in view their requirements and the expectations, we offered them the best solution to help them avoid the extra licenses and the associated charges.

South Tahoe Public Utility District

Thanks to Communication Square! Their team has gone above and beyond for us to implement Office 365.

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Brian Bartlett
Network/Telecom Systems Administrator


Disruption of On-Premises Environment

When we started the project, we found out that apart from the Exchange 2010, the on-premises infrastructure also contained the residue of exchange 2003, which was not decommissioned correctly. South Tahoe’s exchange environment crashed every then and now, and they needed to restore it back from the 15 days to 3-month-old backups. There was residue of multiple CAS servers as well, due to which multiple errors in the Exchange 2010 event logs occurred. 

To successfully deal with this problem, we carefully deleted South Tahoe' objects from the directory (configuration container) using ADSIEdit or a similar tool, while ensuring their email infrastructure is not affected. Additionally, we took a complete directory and exchange backup prior to the deletion, so in case anything happened to the infrastructure, we would still have the backed-up servers to start again.


Mailbox Migration Speed Issue

While migrating from the on-premises 2010 to the Microsoft Office 365 solution, we noticed that the speed of migration was extremely sluggish. It was taking too long to synchronize a single mailbox. Nonetheless, Communication Square was fully alert that the migration jobs to Exchange Online have a lower priority on Exchange servers and are sometimes throttled to protect the health of the datacenter resources (server performance, disks, databases). 

To troubleshoot slow migration, we took the following measures: 

  • Disabled Microsoft Replication Service Throttling
  • Changed Microsoft Replication Service Defaults
  • Used “Priority Emergency” Parameter

Resultantly, the migration speed increased from 600MB per hour to 1GB per hour.


Office 365 Retention Policy Limitations

The retention policies in office 365 are a pain point for many admins. Office 365 stores deleted emails for 14 days only and upon changing the Message Recording Management policy, it is increased to 30 days. However, South Tahoe wanted to store the deleted emails for a longer period due to compliance requirements. 

South Tahoe Public Utility District

Moving to Office 365 was a completely new experience for us. Hence, Communication Square ensured that our IT Staff is completely competent with the working system, to help us unlock the full potential of Office products.

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Mary Alsbury
Information Technology Systems Specialist

To cater to this issue, we placed a mailbox on Litigation hold to retain all mailbox content, including deleted items and the original versions of modified items. When we place a user mailbox on Litigation hold, content in the user's archive mailbox (if it's enabled) is also retained.

In addition to this, we also used third party cloud backup solution for extra protection i.e., Axcient Office 365 Protection. This solution ensured business continuity as well as disaster recovery (BCDR) in the event of a data breach, security compromise, poor decision-making, or an accident.

User Adoption

It’s natural to be intimidated by something new or different. With hands on experience on the previous applications, organizations sometimes tend to hesitate to adopt innovative technologies.

For this purpose, Communication Square developed a thorough training plan to educate the end users.  Our Training Consultants contacted Mary Alsbury and Brenlyn Borley - Information Technology Systems Specialist / Software Support / Trainer to help them plan the adoption of Office 365.

Communication Square LLC

For Training, we conducted comprehensive demos, Q/A sessions as well as detailed guides and tutorials to maintain a constant line of communication with South Tahoe’s IT staff and end users to assist them adapt to the new technology.

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William Agganis
Technology & Training Consultant

A Successful Outcome

The Microsoft Office 365 implementation has been successfully accomplished and South Tahoe now benefits from: 

  • Flexible Subscription Plans
  • Secure & Encrypted Files
  • Larger mailbox storage
  • Instant upgrades and new features
  • Efficient Business Operations



By working with Communication Square, South Tahoe Public Utility District is now moving towards a digital workplace.Having employees on one platform has helped everyone work more efficiently. The Exchange to Office 365 Migration has helped them increase work productivity, team collaboration, project management, data analysis, and provided other standard benefits of the cloud.

Communication Square LLC

Office 365 helps save time and money, and it utilizes valued resources. The implementation of Office 365 greatly helped South Tahoe enhance scalability and increase cross collaboration.

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Awais Khalid
Senior Cloud Architect
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