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Knaresborough Engineering (Yorkshire) LimitedSmall Business Server 2008 & Office 365 Migration

Client: Knaresborough Engineering (Yorkshire) Limited

Sector: Engineering/Fabrication

Category: Systems Migration/E-Mail Migration


Knaresborough Engineering (Yorkshire) Limited, a long-standing client of ours, tasked us with the specification, deployment, and migration of a new server, due to their current hardware reaching the end of its support with Dell.

The Discontinuation of Small Business Server

Microsoft’s decision to discontinue the Small Business Server product family made the migration path from their existing Small Business Server 2008-based infrastructure a little more complex than previous upgrades had been.

Faced with the prospect of needing to double the server hardware on-site (or virtualise the infrastructure, incurring the additional cost of hardware licensing tokens for some of their software), we recommended that they migrate to Server 2016 Essentials and moved their on-site Exchange-based e-mail to Office 365.

Phase 1: Server Specification

The first step of the project was to determine the ideal specification for their new server. Now that there was no need to account for the overhead of Microsoft Exchange, were tasked with providing the optimal solution for file storage, authentication, and the running of the licensing servers for their on-site software.

Using Dell’s Server Specialists to validate our proposed server specification, we ensured that they could supply a hardware configuration that met Knaresborough Engineering’s requirements, along with a support contract that would provide them with the hardware support they required.

Once the specification was validated, and we had ensured that Knaresborough Engineering’s existing line of business applications would run on Server 2016, the server was ordered.

Phase 2: Hardware Installation & Data Migration

Once the hardware had been delivered on-site, the process of installation and migration of the existing data began.

The first step was to locate the new server hardware into their existing server rack and connect it to the network. Once it was successfully installed and powered up, we connected it to the existing Active Directory domain, to ease the migration process, and avoid the need to join all the workstations onto a new domain, and cause users to lose their existing profile data.

After the server was part of the existing domain, we began the process of transferring all user data and line of business applications from the old SBS 2008 server and updating all group policies to point to the new server for network shares.

When we had verified that the workstations were successfully targeting the new server for data access, we began the process of migrating the on-site Exchange mailboxes to Office 365.

Phase 2.1: Migration to Office 365

As part of the transition from Small Business Server, we had to move their on-site Exchange-based e-mail to Office 365 to ensure the features they were used to were still available. We had originally thought that this process would be relatively simple but soon discovered that Outlook 2016 no longer had support for connecting to an Exchange 2007 server, so the process of executing a mailbox export was undertaken, using an old on-site Windows XP machine, that had a copy of Outlook 2003.

In preparation for the migration, we first re-pointed the existing DNS for the public domain to Office 365, ensuring no incoming e-mail would be lost during the systems migration.

Once we had exported the existing Exchange mailboxes from the old Small Business Server, we began the process of transferring the contents to users’ new Office 365 accounts.

Due to the amount of data in the resulting PST files, this process was left to complete overnight as part of the migration process.

Phase 3: Post-Migration Support

After successful completion of the data migration, and verification that all line of business software still operated as expected, the staff of the organisation were given access to the new infrastructure.

During the week after the migration had completed, we were on-site to provide assistance in the event that certain things we were unable to test didn’t work as expected and correct any issues.

Now, some 4 months after the migration, the new system is working as expected, and we have returned to our usual IT support role.