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    Case Study

    Exchange Upgrade with Migration to Virtual Infrastructure

    Jun 2010

    Powerful Breakthroughs in Email Performance for the California Department of Water Resources

    DWR was faced with end-of-life support for both their email system and the underlying IT infrastructure. They could no longer keep up with increasing demands for reliability and performance and also needed the ability to integrate with the growing network of mobile data devices used by employees throughout the state.


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    The California Department of Water Resources (DWR), with over 3000 employees and more than 30 field and regional sites statewide, is one of the largest departments in the California Natural Resources Agency. The DWR supplies and manages the water delivery systems for California, provides flood protection through improvement of California's levees, inspects 1,200 dams, and helps coordinate the State's integrated water management strategies.

    Solution Overview

    BUSINESS SITUATION: DWR needed to upgrade their email infrastructure to provide reliable services and increased performance along with the ability to integrate with widely used mobile devices.
    SOLUTION: By combining upgrades to MS Exchange with an EMC SAN and VMware virtualization in the DWR datacenter, ENS-Inc optimized performance and features to the agency’s email system to meet current demands and scalability for future growth.
    BENEFITS: With zero impact to users during the migration, the new email system features solid reliability, recoverability, performance, capacity, and powerful management features with reduced software and hardware licensing and maintenance costs.
    • Microsoft Exchange 2000, 2007
    • Centralized EMC SAN Storage on VMware Infrastructure
    • Active Directory
    • Microsoft ActiveSync
    • HP Blade Servers
    • High Availability Clustering
    • Outlook Cached Mode


    The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) faced a twofold problem. First, their email system could no longer keep up with current demands for overall reliability and performance combined with specific integration requirements for mobile devices. Mainstream support for their Exchange 2000 software had expired and the program also lacked essential features the agency required for their email. Second, the system resided on old, out-of-warranty, IT infrastructure scattered at various sites requiring difficult and expensive maintenance. DWR also had various issues with their statewide Active Directory Network Operating System which needed optimizing.

    Microsoft’s Exchange server system was a good fit for DWR but they needed to upgrade the software while at the same time centralizing and improving the performance of their infrastructure. They also needed more storage for email and better control of the data so they could meet pending litigation requirements. DWR wanted to utilize their new data center for centralized SAN storage and a virtualized VMware infrastructure which would also assist with consolidation of computing services with other Natural Resources agencies.


    The ENS-Inc team worked closely with DWR management throughout the entire project from the early planning stages and design process through implementation, documentation, and training. ENS-Inc engineers conducted committee and management meetings necessary for analysis, strategy, constituent buy-in, installation, and knowledge transfer.

    ENS-Inc engineers worked with DWR staff to upgrade their Microsoft Exchange to Exchange 2007, which is fully supported by Microsoft. Email stored on workstations and servers needed to be imported back into Exchange for proper security and protection so storage capacity was increased by 40X. Performance was improved by utilizing new high-speed HP Blade servers, an EMC SAN, and VMware virtualization. High availability clustering was built into the system through the VMware infrastructure.

    Centralization of servers was accomplished by utilizing DWR’s upgraded WAN along with features such as Outlook Cached mode. Active Directory architectural changes were made to improve network access speed and reliability. Microsoft ActiveSync was deployed so smart phones could get email services through DWR’s Exchange. The latest version of a Blackberry Enterprise Server and handhelds can now be deployed and with many more powerful features than previously available.

    Finally, a newly upgraded backup system effectively integrates with Exchange 2007’s recovery feature to dramatically lower the time and effort needed for data restores.

    Knowledge Transfer & Training

    The DWR IT staff was involved during both the design and deployment phases working side-by-side with ENS-Inc engineers and through knowledge transfer and training sessions. The training and knowledge transfer process was facilitated through comprehensive documentation including:

    • Assessment and documentation of existing environment
    • Detailed business, technical, and functional requirements of new system
    • Project schedule
    • Detailed installation and migration plans
    • As-built detailed architecture design document
    • Visio diagrams showing before, during, and after phases of implementation
    • Email configuration, management and reporting Powershell scripts
    • User communication
    • Network diagrams as related to email servers
    • Action Item, Risks, and Issues register
    • Status reports


    The successful Microsoft Exchange Upgrade combined with the migration to a VMware Virtual Infrastructure provided DWR with the following benefits to their email system:

    • Improved reliability, performance capacity, and fault tolerance.
    • Powerful management tools and Outlook client features
    • Dynamic remote access capabilities and scalabilty
    • Reduced software and hardware licensing and maintenance costs
    • Improved system resilience

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