Earlier this year, In-Tuition completed a very interesting and complex migration of Essex County Council’s GCSX secure email service running on Microsoft Exchange Server to Zimbra Collaboration Server hosted by UKCloud.
We sometimes get involved in larger Zimbra migration projects outside of our usual role of running In-Tuition’s Cloud Services. We also work closely with other Zimbra hosting providers, in particular UKCloud who specialise in UK Public Sector only Cloud hosting services.
“We wanted a partner we could trust to manage the migration from end to end and who could work with our selected Zimbra provider – UKCloud. In-Tuition’s professional services and UKCloud’s Zimbra service are both available via G-Cloud which made procurement very straightforward and in addition, both parties were happy to sign a separate collaboration agreement formalising their co-operation on this project.”
Steven Tredinnick, Head of IS Projects at Essex CC
Complex Requirements – Security a Top Priority
The overall requirements were to: securely migrate all GCSX mailboxes quickly and without interruption; reduce system administration complexity and operational cost; and provide a better ongoing user experience increasing productivity.
The key issue was how to securely and quickly migrate the heavily locked down mailboxes across a very slow Public Services Network (PSN) connection to the remote UKCloud hosted Zimbra service. Mailbox data could not leave the confines of the PSN. Teams were accessing email almost around the clock and often dealing with critical cases of child care so we could not afford too much interruption. Yet because of the need to do everything only using the PSN and with a very slow legacy link, we could not carry out a traditional multiple pass method of migration. Instead, we designed a solution which would involve both physically transporting data on encrypted hard disk and remote migration across the main, much faster, Essex CC PSN link.
“This was a high profile project within the Council, involving many stakeholders and complex technical problems to resolve. In-Tuition handled it very well, providing us with confidence and clarity at every stage. There were many moments where they could have reasonably said ‘no’ and referred to contracts, but instead got stuck in and delivered solutions. Their approach was straightforward and refreshing.”
Steven Tredinnick, Head of IS Projects, Essex CC
Zimbra Collaboration Server Hosted by UKCloud
Essex CC selected Zimbra Collaboration Server hosted by UKCloud after extensive evaluation. Some of the key reasons were:
- Zimbra is browser based and easy to use. Users would be able to adapt with minimal training, whilst the Council would not need to provide client side software specifically for GCSX email, thus reducing licensing and support costs.
- UKCloud provide a compliant and fully managed PSN connected Zimbra service priced per user. The service includes delegated admin control so that Essex CC would be able to easily add and remove users via the Zimbra web based administration interface at any time. This would significantly increase the agility of the help desk and reduce the number of interactions required to close a ticket. The per user pricing model would provide predictable and clear costs covering the entire solution.
- Better user experience and improved efficiency
- Faster help desk response times due to easy web based Zimbra administration capabilities
- Improved compliance and policy controls
“As a result of all the careful planning and testing, the migration progressed extremely smoothly on the day. Despite problems with the mail routing change, which was outside our collective control, users experienced only a few hours of working day interruption which exceeded our expectations.”
Ron Isted, Portfolio/Programme Manager at Essex CC
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