ICT managed services provider and Microsoft Infrastructure specialist Integr8 has successfully completed a complex Microsoft Exchange migration for its client Absa Technology Finance Solutions. As a result Absa Technology Finance is now able to leverage off optimised infrastructure to help manage its critical B2B and B2C communications functionality.

CaptureAbsa Technology Finance Solutions is a market leader in the provision of asset-based finance for technology used in business.

Due to the fact that its messaging system was end-of-life, Absa Technology Finance Solutions was seeking to upgrade their messaging infrastructure to the next level. As a result of the gap between the old and new versions, no upgrade path existed and this represented a challenge.

The route to optimised networking

“All virtual Systems had to run on a Hypervisor Host server running server 2010 R2 … no high availability, clustering or shared storage was to be used.  The solution put forward did not only include a one-to-one Exchange 2013 upgrade with migration of mailboxes. A “jump box” Exchange 2010 SP3 server was utilised to first migrate all the users prior to migrating to the Final Exchange 2013 server,” says Robert Sussman, joint CEO, Integr8.

Integr8’s client invested in Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 R2, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP3 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 SP1.

There were a number of steps that had to be taken as part of the Exchange 2013 deployment and migration process.

This included an extensive preparatory plans and the submission of proposals covering the complete Exchange design, test plan and deployment plan for agreement and sign-off.

Other key steps included the configuration and completion of Exchange installation, the coexistence with the current Exchange 2003 System and migration of the remaining users, public folders, policies and groups to the Exchange 2013 environment.

Previous versions of Exchange were optimized and architected with certain technological constraints that existed at that time. For example, during development for Exchange 2007, one of the key constraints was CPU performance.

To alleviate that constraint, Exchange 2007 was split into different server roles that allowed scale out through server separation. However, server roles in Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010 were tightly coupled. The tight coupling of the roles had several downsides including version dependency, geo-affinity (requiring all roles in a specific site), session affinity (requiring expensive layer 7 hardware load balancing), and namespace complexity.

Today, CPU horsepower is significantly less expensive and is no longer a constraining factor. With that constraint lifted, the primary design goal for Exchange 2013 is for simplicity of scale, hardware utilization, and failure isolation. With Exchange 2013, we reduced the number of server roles to two: the Client Access server role and the Mailbox server role.

Sussman adds that the finance sector is a high growth market for the integration and application of mobile and networking solutions infrastructure.

According to Sussman, leading institutions like Integr8’s client Absa have adapted to the market requirements for the value that is derived from the convergence of financial applications with internal banking systems. “This is driving decision makers to ensure that they are ahead of the curve in terms of software and system development,” says Sussman.

Martin Groenewald, IT Manager at Absa Technology Finance Solutions, expresses the company’s happiness with Integr8’s level of service, as well as theirknowledge of the environment and key technologies used. “Integr8 is our preferred technical services provider and assisted us with an important and strategic upgrade and did so according to industry best practices. The new batch move architecture features a number of enhancements including the ability to move multiple mailboxes in large batches, automatic retry and automatic prioritisation of moves, as well as email notification during move with reporting. We are confident that our migration investment in Integr8 will pay dividends,” concludes Groenewald.