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PST elimination and migration to Office 365 for media organization

74TB | 25,000 USERS | OFFICE 365

Following the high-profile 2014 Sony hack, in which the contents of nearly 200 ‘PST’ mailboxes (including those of an executive at Sony Pictures Canada and one of its IT audit supervisors) were stolen and published, the boards of other media and entertainment businesses wanted to ensure their organizations were not put at similar risk.

CHALLENGES

• Protect business from malicious misuse of offline files.

• Hundreds of regional and local sites.

• 25,000 users, with over 5,000 users at the largest location.

• Restricted network bandwidth. 

 

SOLUTIONS

• PST elimination and migration to Office 365.

• Multiple ingestion nodes running Quadrotech PST Flight Deck.

• In-house project management with setup, training, and advice from Quadrotech consultants.

 

BENEFITS

• Achieved compliance objectives mandated by the board.

• Successful migration of 74TB of data.

• Chain of custody maintained throughout.

 

Among these corporations was a global programming and broadcast concern with many divisions and sub-divisions operating worldwide. The corporation had already initiated a strategic migration to Office 365, but only now realized that PST files had not been included in the program.

A board-level decision to implement an accelerated PST elimination project was taken, and Quadrotech’s PST FlightDeck was selected because of its successful track record, clear workflow, ability to reconcile individual users, and integrated communications features.

Scale of challenge

Any enterprise that has historically used Microsoft Exchange Client or Outlook typically has many thousands of offline PSTs scattered throughout its infrastructure – on desktops, laptops, removable disks and shared network drives. These PSTs are accessed constantly by local users and may contain highly sensitive data of which the organization is unaware. The relative insecurity and easy portability of PSTs mean their eradication has become a critical concern.

Within this particular client, there were officially over 10,000 licensed Exchange users, but there were many more PST files in circulation. These included multiple PSTs with a single owner, as well as orphaned PSTs that had been abandoned when users had left the business. Some individual PST files exceeded several hundred gigabytes. The PSTs were dispersed across countless repositories in many different geographical locations; each of the corporation’s four main regions was divided into around 20 sites, each of which was further divided into different operating companies.

The client opted to manage the migration using in-house resources, with Quadrotech providing setup, training, and piloting. Although Quadrotech’s advice is always to run the project in the shortest possible timeframe (PST FlightDeck has many advanced features that optimize bandwidth and ingestion speeds), the corporation preferred to phase the work over a longer period to take account of local security sensitivities.

Thomas Madsen, product head for PST FlightDeck, explains: “With a project on this scale it’s not just the efficiency of the solution that determines speed. It’s down to how fast the client wants to go. You’re perceived to be taking data away from users, even though that data is going to be available again within Office 365. People can be suspicious of that, which is why such a strong security mandate is needed at the outset.”

The project

The project was organized on a region-by-region basis, with EMEA scheduled first. “You have to discover and extract PST data from wherever it resides,” says Madsen, “and thanks to our proprietary technology the client had a very high success rate of discovery.

“Then you have to centralize, analyze, repair, de-dupe and deal with corrupted files before ingestion into Office 365. This phase took advantage of some of the latest developments in PST FlightDeck; for example, the master server was able to coordinate remote nodes that collected and processed data locally. These were large, multi-TB files, being transferred from, say, Finland to Amsterdam. Our integrated bandwidth management and control features ensured centralization could be completed as efficiently as possible.”

In the APAC region, the client faced particular resistance among a few diehard PST users and had to overcome severely restricted network speeds. “This phase took longer than it could have,” acknowledges Madsen, “but the product itself didn’t hold things back. This only emphasizes again how important it is to approach programs like these as business projects, not just technical ones. The client needed to manage internal resources and user expectations so that its security team was able to get the result they needed.”

In the US, it was apparent (as is common with other media companies) that many users had their offline files on Outlook for Mac. Quadrotech worked with the client to find solutions that would address this particular scenario and help complete the migration.

Conclusion

“Although huge in scope, this project wasn’t really hampered by many technical obstacles,” says Madsen. “It does underline that organizations considering similar migrations need to ensure they provision appropriate resources and project management at the outset.

“One of the interesting things we discovered was that owing to the size of the PST files involved in this project, Office 365 wasn’t geared up to handle them. We have a great relationship with Microsoft and worked with it to increase its PST limit from 120GB to 150GB.

“With the final elimination of residual PST files after migration, the client’s objective of removing unnecessary risk from the business is achieved. Everything is accessible, managed and secure within Office 365.”

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whois: Andy White Freelance WordPress Developer London