Evolv Networks Transitions Infrastructure to Office 365

Few system integrators eat their own metaphorical “dog food”, but evolv networks did exactly that when it took the leap of faith by migrating production infrastructure to Office 365.

No amount of lab work and proofs of concept can ever beat running production infrastructure on Office 365. By becoming a Microsoft Cloud Partner in November 2011, evolv networks laid the foundation for early adoption and a full migration to Office 365.

The first steps were to achieve full Single Sign-On functionality, which takes the current logged in username/password and seamlessly authenticates the user to Office 365. By February 2012, evolv networks had completed its Single Sign-On deployment and Lync Online was deployed at the same time. The deployment resulted in massive efficiency gains through the effective use of enterprise instant messaging and voice.

“The seamless authentication integration meant there was no user resistance and no additional username and passwords,” says Gerhard Conradie, MD for evolv networks. “We were also able to immediately benefit from Lync Online and presence data without the need for on-premises infrastructure.”

The next phases would prove to be the toughest. Migration of all file server data to SharePoint Online was achieved through the use of SkyDrive Pro (a component of Microsoft Office 2013 Professional Plus). The familiar Windows Explorer access method ensured that migrating from file server shares to SharePoint Online was less stressful for the users since they did not have to change their habits much. The SharePoint Online benefits were massive and gave much better access to data through the full text indexing than what was possible previously. Exchange Hybrid configuration was completed and all mailboxes were moved from on-premises to Office 365 without the users noticing the seamless changeover.

“The migration of the e-mail allowed us to test scenarios such as hybrid configurations where some mailboxes are on premises and some are hosted on Office 365. This valuable production experience has made us better prepared for our customer engagements,” says Francois Conradie, Technical Director at evolv networks. “We believe that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and by running our own infrastructure on Office 365, we are able to further strengthen customer faith in the public cloud offering. After all, how can you trust your Office 365 partner if they do not run the technology themselves?”