Frontline is the UK’s leading magazine sales, marketing and distributing company, with over 800 magazine brands. They are a major innovator in the supply of magazines and sell magazines in more than 50,000 retailers across the UK and Ireland.
Frontline wanted to migrate from their existing email platform to Exchange Online, as part of a wider migration and company-wide adoption of Office 365.
Frontline decided that Office 365 was the way forward for their business. To simplify and accelerate the process, they wanted a partner to move them to the Office 365.
Frontline worked through a list of existing contacts and businesses who had experience with Office 365 to try and find a partner they could work with. They were also given a list of recommended partners by Microsoft.
Frontline chose Core based on feedback given by Microsoft, the impression the Core team left after the initial meeting with Frontline, and because of Core’s competitive quote for the project.
The first step was a Project Initiation Workshop and Discovery phase. A pre-engagement workshop was held to cover Frontline’s business requirements, which were:
- Implementation of Microsoft Azure AD Connect to Sync Active Directory Users to Azure AD
- Implementation of Azure seamless sign-on
- Office 365 migration from on-premise to Exchange Online via an Exchange hybrid setup, to include 10 mailboxes migrated by Core, configuration of Azure group-based licence management and handover of the migration process
- Public folder migration from on-premise Exchange to Office 365
- Configuration of Office 365 license management by group membership
- Configuration of any required additional address books in Office 365
- Public Folder Migration from on-premise Exchange to Office 365
In order to provide the functionality Frontline required, Core proposed a solution comprising a number of technology components which included the deployment and configuration of Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Exchange 2013 as a Hybrid, and Microsoft Azure Active Directory Connect (AD Connect). Core walked technical staff through the migration process, as they would be performing this after Core migrated the initial 10 mailboxes.
The second stage in the solution was an Architectural Design Phase (ADP), an Office 365 Migration Architectural Design document was created and approved. This included the AD Connect design, Exchange 2016 Hybrid Server design, current email namespace design, current routing topology, target routing topology, firewalling and external emailing topology and ports and protocols, amongst other things.
This was followed by the Solution Deployment Phase (SDP). During SDP, Core took the detail collected during the ADP phase to deploy the solution. Core also created configuration guides specific to Frontline’s environment. AD Connect was used to sync identities from on-premise Active Directory to Azure AD.
Core deployed a new Exchange 2016 Hybrid server, which functioned as the hybrid hosting of Federation and mailbox moves as well as SMTP routing between Exchange Online and Exchange on premise. URLs for Autodiscover were pointed to this server to allow Frontline’s to be redirected to either on-premise or Office 365 during the migration phase.
A migration guide was also developed so that Core could share this knowledge with Frontline and enable them to migrate the remaining mailboxes once Core had migrated the first 10.
The pilot phase followed, which involved an iterative approach of ‘User Acceptance Testing’ (UAT), during which users could test out all features. Any unusual situations specific to Frontline could also be identified. UAT users were chosen from low-risk groups in case of outages. In addition to Core’s checks, Frontline provided a UAT checklist so that every eventuality was covered, to sign-off the UAT phase.
Once all mailboxes had been migrated, Core were able to migrate all Public Folders to Office 365 by synchronising the folders from on-premise servers to Office 365, followed by a cut-over of the folders.
Why choose Core?
Michael Dunn | Technical Infrastructure Analyst, Frontline
“We decided that working with O365 was the way forward for our business. As is normal in business today, internal resource was limited for taking on a longer-term project such as an O365 Hybrid install and deployment of O365 applications. With resources committed to other internal revenue generating projects, we decided there was great value in engaging with a third party to complete the work.”
“We worked through a list of existing contacts and businesses who have experience with O365, and a list provided by Microsoft who we engaged with from the outset.”
“From the outset, Core seemed flexible, knowledgeable and gave us great confidence in their ability to do the work to the standards required and on time as we did have an aggressive roll-out schedule. The brief provided by us to Core was met and exceeded by completing the required works early and helping to initially train our administrators to adapt to the new systems provided.”
“Working with Core was a pleasant experience. The consultants were approachable, understood our requirements and were willing to help train knowledge as well as completing the work required. Scheduling was dealt with quickly and flexibly to adapt to our needs.”
“The O365 Hybrid setup has already started to provide benefits in our collaborative working and knowledge transfer processes internally. We are continually finding new ways to rework current processes and practices, to use the new tools and work in a smarter way. O365 and the Hybrid setup is going to fundamentally change how Frontline Group collaborates, shares data and works as a team.”
“Feedback from our employees has all been positive. We are continually extending our pilot program due to the positive feedback gained and take up of the new systems is proving to be a natural occurrence. Initially, there is resistance to change as can be expected, but time spent with the products and the advantages it provides soon changes this from resistance to a thirst for more options.”
“We would gladly work with Core again and have already engaged our account management with regards to future projects on PowerBI, SharePoint and further deployments, in line with our strategic plan.”