When The Server Is Down Everyone Knows!

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The Decision to Move to the Cloud Can you imagine spending most of your time just managing mail servers?  That’s the situation Shaun Cameron faced in 2005-2007 as Network Communications Manager for the Government of Jamaica Ministry of Transport & Works an entity with approximately 200 users.  Below is his story.

It is a very stressful time for my team. We actually owned a mail server with Exchange 2000 Standard at the the time with the storage capacity of about 80 GB. Storage was a premium and mailboxes were always full. The mail server crashed often...sometimes as often as four times a month. The system was mission crticial, with 24/7 monitoring now a necessity to prevent another server crash. So, as Microsoft Outlook auto-archived files, moving them off the server, the team was busy reclaiming freed-up space from the server. This process required a restart of the server, which ultimately had to be done at odd hours to minimse interruptions to the workday. It was a tedious, hands-on process that involved many late nights and weekends. This downtime cost our company a lot of wasted man hours and sometimes missed meetings or communication objectives.

A not so hidden price to pay become more and more obvious - by putting so much of our efforts into keepin the mail servers online, the relationship between our team and the rest of the organisation became strained, as we were unable to provide the level of value-added service that is required of any IT unit..

Some years later, when I moved over to the Ministry of Water and Housing as Directory of ICT, I found officers of the Ministry being plagued by SPAM, caused by the fact that everyone was using free email accounts, e.g. Hotmail. Based on my previous experience at the Ministry of Transport & Works, I decied to do a cost benefit analysis to determine if owning the infrastructure was more beneficial than hosted services. The analysis showed that based on the current financial economic situation of the Ministry and the strategic needs for modernization, a hosted solution was the best option.

I learned that going to the Cloud meant that I could remove all the day-to-day monitoring and still have control over the mail, without the major capital investment. Instead, I could replace the capital expenditure with a low, fixed, monthly fee. Additionally, a hosted system came with spam filtering and virus protection, so no more spam. No need for updates. No need to do patches, someone else would have that headache.

It really was not a difficult decision for me. All my research showed me that this was the future for Information Technology. So sure was I of this new direction that I was able to easily convince our financial controller that this is was the absolute way to go. Plus the cost was not prohibitive.

Following the government of Jamaica procurement guidelines, Info exchange met the developed criteria and were successful in winning the service contract. Info Exchange was known for their Hosted Exchange service and submitted substantial references from both public and private sector companies.

Info Exchange's Hosted Exchange solution proved to be the best solution. It took approximately fourteen (14) days to on-board Hosted Exchange for approximately 160 users and nother 50 POP accounts for regular users. This was a live migration, where Users were able to use their mail throughout the process. With this service, not only was I able to take control and consolidate all email accounts under one government domain, but also filter spam and enable virus protection to stop the embarrassing spam that was plaguing the Ministry at that time.

Once on-board, we immediately felt the impact of the service. The system just worked! I replaced low-value, repetitive and tedious tasks, with the monitoring of a 99.999% Serivce Level Agreement (SLA), offered by my service provider, Info Exchange Ltd. I held onto that SLA and Info Exchange continues to stand up to their promise. My IT unit was re-energised, as we now had the time to focus on developing applciations and other solutions to aid in the efficient running of the Ministry.

The Decision to Move to the Cloud
A Case Study
Written by Anne Marie Walter-Allen as recounted by Shaun Cameron
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