SADA helps Keck Graduate Institute move to Microsoft Office 365!


[Editor’s Note] Today’s blog post is a case study featuring the work SADA Systems has done to migrate Keck Graduate Institute to Microsoft Office 365 for Education. 

Client: Keck Graduate Institute
Organization size:
100+ faculty & staff
Country or Region: Claremont, CA
Industry: Higher Education
SADA Service(s): Office 365 for Education migration

Customer Profile:
Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences (KGI) is a specialized graduate school in Claremont, California. It was founded in 1997 through a startup grant of $50 million from the W. M. Keck Foundation. KGI is the newest and 7th member of The Claremont Consortium. KGI offers a portfolio of programs including two Professional Science Masters degrees: the Master of Bioscience (MBS) and the Postdoctoral Professional Masters in Bioscience Management (PPM). In addition, KGI offers a PhD in Applied Life Sciences which is built upon the MBS degree, a separate PhD in Computational and Systems Biology, and a Postbaccalaureate Premedical Certificate (PPC) Program.

“The SADA team was great – they were very responsive and  knowledgeable throughout the entire project.”
– William Roberts, Director of IT at Keck Graduate Institute

Business Challenges:
Prior to moving to the cloud with Office 365 for Education, Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) had been hosting their own Exchange 2003 server, which was growing cumbersome to manage and maintain. When KGI was considering an IT upgrade in 2012, Exchange 2003 was already several years behind on the most updated on-premise version of Exchange. Although the systems at KGI were fully functional, William Roberts, Director of IT at KGI, wanted to look ahead in the interest of consistent improvement and business continuity.  With KGI being located in “earthquake county”, Roberts wanted to ensure that their communication and collaboration systems continued to work, and their data was protected without being reliant on the health of their on-premise systems. It was the ideal time to consider moving to the cloud, which presented the time and cost savings benefits of not managing or hosting their own email, while also providing the high-availability and geo-redundancy KGI was looking for. In the spirit of continuing to improve and modernize the IT solutions of KGI, Roberts looked towards Office 365 for Education, which promised to offload much of the time and costs associated with managing their on-premise systems, while also providing automatic security updates. With fall semester beginning in August, KGI worked with SADA to migrate from Exchange 2003 to Office 365 for Education within a very narrow time-frame.

KGI worked closely with SADA Systems in order to migrate to Office 365 for Education, starting in July 2013. The migration was complete by August 2013, both on-time and on-budget. “The SADA team was great,” said Roberts, Director of IT at Keck Graduate Institute. “They were very responsive and  knowledgeable throughout the entire project.”

KGI had a small IT staff consisting of only 4 people at the time – with other pressing projects to complete during the summer months, KGI decided to enlist the assistance of an Office 365 migration partner and found SADA Systems through the company’s Microsoft Pinpoint listing. Beyond the migration itself, the SADA team assisted with the decision-making process for architecting KGI’s cloud functionalities. When Roberts explained he wanted the system to remain functional, even in a situation where KGI’s facilities were damaged, the SADA team recommended alternative password synchronization tools and a Single-Sign-On (SSO) solution that would allow users to log in through the web application of Microsoft Online and still communicate.

Results and Benefits:
The faculty and staff of KGI now benefit from Office 365 for  Education’s accessibility, including the Outlook web application and improved calendaring functionality. Students can now easily see the the availability of faculty members for Office Hours by checking the calendars they publish to the web via the running management system, making the management of faculty hours much more efficient. Moving to Office 365 for Education also alleviates the IT staff of KGI of backend administrative overhead – saving upwards of 5 hours a week in backend management. With the IT staff’s tight schedules, Office 365 makes it easier for the IT team to approach other projects that have been pushed off. With the overall reception to Office 365 being very positive, KGI is looking to roll out SharePoint Online and Lync Online to further increase cloud-based communication and collaboration.

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