King Saud University gains speed and reduces redundancy with upgrade to Exchange Server 2016

Today’s Microsoft Office post was written by Saeed Al-Shahrani, systems and operations director at King Saud University.

At King Saud University, we are proud of our technological leadership and we strive to provide our students, faculty and staff with the most advanced solutions available. Because email is the primary method of communication for our 35,000 faculty and staff, we recently upgraded to Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 to help maximize their productivity. Exchange Server also serves as a repository for documents and conversations, preserving critical organizational knowledge and helping faculty and staff manage their appointments.

We found Exchange Server 2016 now makes it easy and inexpensive to provide 20GB mailboxes to all our faculty, but tracking down details within those mailboxes could be a challenge. Luckily, Exchange Server 2016 offers many improvements that help faculty and staff work more effectively, such as search. Search is a critical component of working efficiently with so much information. Our staff and faculty report that searches are fast and consistent across devices. Even if they type a word incorrectly, Exchange finds the messages they need almost instantly.

Sending attachments with Exchange and the Outlook client has also never been easier. When I want to send an attachment, Exchange opens up the list of Recently Used Documents within the Outlook client, and I select the one I want. Ninety percent of the time I want to send a document that I have been editing so it will be in the list, and this type of built-in intelligence is a real time saver.

Even more impressive: for documents stored on Microsoft OneDrive for Business, Outlook provides the option to send a link instead of an attachment. Exchange Server 2016 also sets the OneDrive for Business permissions automatically so that all recipients can access the document. This enables our organization to take advantage of the benefits of online document sharing, rather than sending attachments.

In addition, our employees can now edit Microsoft Office files sent as links and attachments directly in Microsoft Outlook. Just click a link and the file opens in a side-by-side view with Outlook. Staff can make quick changes based on the content of the email, save the file and send it right back from the Recently Used Documents list. Exchange Server 2016 pulls everything together for us. We no longer have to spend a lot of time moving files and opening documents.

Exchange offers a consistent user experience across the web, PCs, Mac computers and other devices when combined with the latest Outlook clients. Our employees use every kind of device you can imagine, and now everyone has the same Outlook experience across all of them. Our employees are more productive, and our IT support staff have an easier time answering questions and re-creating user issues.

The IT benefits go beyond support. Deployment was very easy because of the complete interoperation with Exchange 2013. We followed the recommended architecture with the single server role, so all the hardware is consistent, and we need only two eight-server DAGs for the entire organization. Now we can survive two server failures with no service interruption, and we have much greater redundancy for the CAS server role. With improved redundancy, database failovers happen 300 percent faster than they did on Exchange Server 2013. With this level of protection, we no longer worry about email outages.

—Saeed Al-Shahrani

Read the full story to better understand how King Saud University is finding new efficiencies by moving to Exchange Server 2016.