4-page Case Study
Posted: 11/27/2011
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King Saud University University Supports Goals with Enterprise Solution, Saves $2.2 Million in IT Costs

King Saud University (KSU), a major university in the Arab world, wanted to build on its reputation for teaching and research by deploying a cost-effective IT infrastructure to improve the learning environment on campus. KSU acquired the Microsoft Enterprise Client Access License (CAL) Suite and gained a set of Microsoft products to standardize on a more efficient, easily managed infrastructure. Since signing the agreement in 2009, KSU has saved approximately U.S.$2.2 million (SAR 8.3 million) in IT costs, while reducing spam by 225 percent and application downtime by 30 percent. It also created a new portal solution that provides a collaboration framework where 4,600 faculty members can update their websites to share research and course materials with students and academic peers, generating the kind of productive, cohesive learning environment that makes a great university.

King Saud University (KSU) was established in 1957 as the first institute of higher education in Saudi Arabia. KSU has a vision to become a world-class university, and its mission is to provide students with a quality education, to conduct valuable research, and to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s “knowledge society” through learning, creativity, the use of current and developing technologies, and effective international partnerships.

The goal of three deanships dedicated to IT is to apply leading-edge technologies to enable the university’s mission. One of these, the Deanship of e-Transactions and Communications, has more than 180 IT professionals. “We have a vision in the Deanship of e-Transactions and Communications to align our goals with that of the university and to empower faculty and staff with self-serve IT services,” says Dr. Jalal Al-Muhtadi, Vice Dean of e-Transactions and Communications at King Saud University. “We aim to provide a reliable IT environment and introduce dynamic IT management by deploying the latest technologies at the best cost.”

* We gained enabling technologies with our Microsoft licensing agreement. We’re improving communication, collaboration, data security, and IT management to position KSU as a world-class university. *

Dr. Yousef Al-Ohali
Dean of e-Transactions and Communications, King Saud University

The university’s mixed desktop and server environment includes hardware running the Windows, Linux, and UNIX operating systems. Of the university’s 15,000 PCs, 8,000 belong to faculty and staff and 7,000 are for student use in labs and libraries. Six thousand PCs and portable computers run a version of the Windows operating system; 70 percent of these run either the Windows XP or Windows Vista operating systems, while 30 percent have been upgraded to the Windows 7 operating system. A global rollout to Windows 7 is expected by May 2012. In the data center, KSU maintains a fleet of 350 servers; approximately 200 run the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system.

KSU also maintains a private-branch exchange (PBX) phone system from Cisco with approximately 2,000 Cisco IP desktop phones. KSU wanted to extend the benefits of unified communications to more staff members, but the cost of the Cisco IP phones was prohibitive. The Deanship of e-Transactions and Communications wanted to make progress with the university’s goal for unified communications that integrate instant messaging, presence information, telephony, and videoconferencing with voicemail and email—all in one solution for the entire campus. “We needed to find a cost-effective solution for unified communications to encourage the collaboration that is key to learning and research,” says Al-Muhtadi.

Evaluation of Software Acquisitions and Desktop Management
In 2009, IT staff began taking a critical look at its criteria for acquiring software that would support the university’s mission while keeping costs down. Until 2009, the university did not have an overall software acquisition strategy. “Each department acquired different software licenses depending on what was already loaded on the computers, which was costly,” says Al-Muhtadi. “Managing license compliance was an issue; we needed to centralize software acquisition to gain a clearer understanding of our environment and to simplify desktop management.”

Also, IT professionals in the Deanship of e-Transactions and Communications did not have a single set of centralized tools to manage the desktop environment, including mission-critical applications such as the E-Register and EduGate portals for student registration. The situation was made worse by applications that ran on a diverse range of operating systems and on different databases such as Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server data management software. “Because we had very basic system monitoring capabilities, many administrators used their own scripts to monitor their systems,” says Al-Muhtadi.

Impacts on Staff and Student Productivity
KSU feels that building connections among staff, students, and departments contributes to a productive learning environment and a communal feeling of pride among its constituents. To build these connections, IT staff considered improving its email service. This service was hosted on Sun SPARC servers running the Oracle Solaris operating system and using Sendmail, a solution from the Sendmail consortium, as the mail server. A separate open source product called Postfix acted as the mail transfer agent. “Our messaging solution was a basic email system with no collaboration or calendaring capabilities,” says Al-Muhtadi. “Faculty members couldn’t use the solution to share their schedules, book meeting rooms, or retrieve their mail from outside campus. Licensing the operating system was expensive, and it required highly skilled people to administer.”

The IT staff also wanted to build a collaborative framework for faculty and students to share information on user-friendly intranet sites. KSU envisioned its intranet, called the Portal Project, as a “knowledge center” with different materials intended for professors, students, researchers, and non-academic audiences. A major goal for the university’s Portal Project was to showcase KSU itself with a public-facing web presence that would reflect the university’s academic standing in the international arena.

“We wanted a portal solution with easy-to-use content management tools so that faculty members could update their own sites,” says Al-Muhtadi. “This goal is in line with our general push towards e-services: we want to empower our users to take ownership of the technology and use it to meet their needs.”

* We have a vision in the Deanship of e-Transactions and Communications to align our goals with that of the university and to empower faculty and staff with self-serve IT services. *

Dr. Jalal Al-Muhtadi
Vice Dean of e-Transactions and Communications, King Saud University

In order to achieve its goals, King Saud University chose a unified approach to software acquisition. Instead of acquiring software licenses in a disconnected way across campus, IT staff began thinking about the benefits of a centralized licensing decision that would encompass a suite of products designed to work together. This would maximize the value of the university’s IT investments, and the IT staff would more easily be able to align KSU’s technology road map with its mission and goals.

In 2009, the university signed a Microsoft Campus Agreement featuring the Microsoft Enterprise Client Access License (CAL) Suite, with licensing for 6,000 seats. The agreement brings together the latest Microsoft business productivity and core server technologies under one license, providing the university with cost-effective collaboration, security, communication, and desktop management capabilities.

“The Enterprise CAL Suite had all the technologies we wanted: Microsoft Exchange Server for our email and unified messaging solution so that faculty and staff can access voicemail, email, and calendar information in their inbox; Microsoft SharePoint Server technologies for our collaboration and content management platform; and Microsoft Forefront technologies for endpoint protection and anti-spam. We also gained Lync Server 2010 for unified communications and the System Center products for monitoring and configuring our infrastructure,” explains Al-Muhtadi. “It was obvious there would be a big cost savings—approximately [U.S.]$1.6 million [SAR 6,000,000,000]—compared to licensing these products individually. For us, the Campus Agreement pulled everything together perfectly.”

Optimized Messaging Environment
In 2009, KSU replaced its Sendmail messaging solution with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 email messaging and collaboration software and the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system. With Exchange Server 2007, faculty and staff can use mobile devices that have Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync technology to synchronize email messages and calendars with their desktop computers. Initially, to safeguard its servers running Exchange Server, the university used McAfee Endpoint Protection. IT staff also used McAfee Email Gateway to block unsolicited email and McAfee GroupShield to safeguard the Exchange Server environment against incoming viruses. However, faculty, students, and staff still complained about the amount of unsolicited email reaching their inboxes.

“We had a spam catch rate of 92.42 percent and five false negatives per month,” says Hany Samir Donia, Senior Enterprise Messaging Engineer, Deanship of e-Transactions and Communications at King Saud University. “Plus, the McAfee products were complex and difficult to use, and we experienced some delays in email delivery. A productive learning environment relies on spam-free email and well-protected messaging and desktop environments, so we wanted a better solution.”

In 2010, when the university re-signed its Campus Agreement, adding another 12,120 seats, it took the opportunity to replace the McAfee products with Microsoft Forefront technologies that it already licensed in the Enterprise CAL Suite. IT staff retired McAfee Endpoint Protection and deployed Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010, which is built on top of Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 to combine endpoint protection and desktop management in a single web-based interface. Then IT staff deployed Microsoft Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server on the Edge Transport Server role of Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1 (SP1). Designed to minimize the attack surface, the Edge Transport server handles all Internet-facing mail flow and employs additional layers of message protection and security through agents that run on the Edge Transport server. With Exchange Server 2010 technologies, the university could retire McAfee Email Gateway and GroupShield. The IT staff expects to upgrade its entire Exchange environment to Exchange Server 2010 SP1 by the end of 2011.

* The Enterprise CAL Suite had all the technologies we wanted.... It was obvious there would be a big cost savings—approximately $1.6 million—compared to licensing these products individually. *

Dr. Jalal Al-Muhtadi
Vice Dean of e-Transactions and Communications, King Saud University

Campuswide Collaboration
Using Microsoft SharePoint Server technologies, KSU began making headway with its portal project. Today, the university’s Internet site is built on SharePoint Server 2010. The Internet portal offers a knowledge gateway for faculty, staff, students, and international visitors, which consists of contributions from all departments, deanships, colleges, and staff members. The Internet portal receives on average approximately 1,221,630 visits per month and contains approximately 316,734 pages. Also running on SharePoint Server 2010, the university’s intranet forms a collaborative framework where each college has its own bilingual website. The intranet has 791,265 pages of content dedicated to faculty and staff members, who visit the site on average 221,780 times a month. Today, the database for the SharePoint environment at King Saud University is 443 gigabytes.

To further support intracampus communications among staff, faculty, and students, KSU is planning to deploy Microsoft Lync Server 2010 communications software from Microsoft. “The great thing about Lync Server is that it interoperates with our existing telephony solution, so we can phase in our unified communications solution gradually, as time and resources allow,” says Samir Donia. “We are planning to deploy the Microsoft Lync 2010 client to the 20,000 staff members who do not have Cisco IP phones.”

Centralized IT Management
IT professionals in the Deanship of e-Transactions and Communications use two of the Microsoft System Center data center solutions included in the Enterprise CAL Suite: Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 and System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2. System administrators are using System Center Operations Manager to monitor the university’s key applications regardless of the operating system they run on: Windows, UNIX, or Linux. System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 is being used to deploy security updates and the Windows operating system onto PCs and for reporting and software and hardware inventories.

“There was excellent cooperation between the university and Microsoft during this whole process,” says Al-Muhtadi. “The Microsoft team did a great job of explaining how the Campus Agreement would work, and they were very flexible in helping us reach the best possible agreement.”

Since signing its Microsoft Campus Agreement, King Saud University has taken significant steps toward standardizing its IT infrastructure on technologies that deliver maximum business value, which helps to bring the university’s vision to reality. “We gained enabling technologies with our Microsoft licensing agreement,” says Dr. Yousef Al-Ohali, Dean of e-Transactions and Communications at King Saud University. “We’re improving communication, collaboration, data security, and IT management to position KSU as a world-class university.”

Reduced Security Costs by $600,000
While the main motivation for signing a Microsoft Volume Licensing agreement was to build an IT infrastructure for improving its academic standing, KSU also achieved significant cost savings. When it replaced its existing messaging solution with Exchange Server 2007, the IT department reduced the budget required to maintain an email solution by 10 percent. “This was an early and significant bonus for us: we could use less expensive servers and administrators to maintain the Microsoft messaging solution,” says Abdullah Alawwad, Director, Data Center, Deanship of e-Transactions and Communications at King Saud University.

Further cost savings followed as the IT staff moved from McAfee products to Microsoft Forefront products. “Moving from McAfee Email Gateway to Microsoft Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server saved us more than $600,000 [SAR 2,250,000] in three years, with an immediate savings of more than $160,000 [SAR 600,000],” says Samir Donia.

* The great thing about Lync Server is that it interoperates with our existing telephony solution, so we can phase in our unified communications solution gradually, as time and resources allow. *

Hany Samir Donia
Messaging Engineer, Deanship of e-Transactions and Communications, King Saud University

Strengthened Messaging Security, Increased Reliability, Performance
By using Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server, Samir Donia and his staff achieved a significant improvement in safeguarding the university’s messaging environment from unsolicited email messages and malware, achieving an estimated 225 percent reduction in spam.

“Three days after moving to Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server, the amount of spam targeted to the university increased by 300 percent, yet we have improved the catch rate for spam from 92.4200 percent to 99.9999 percent, with a false negative of only three email messages per month instead of five,” says Samir Donia. “Today, we are blocking 130,000 spam mails in a single day and our Exchange environment is performing better: up to 3,000 percent improvement in mail delivery times. We calculated this percentage by measuring the overall average time for inbound and outbound email messages.”

Empowered IT Staff to Reduce Downtime 30 Percent
Because the Campus Agreement includes System Center data center management products, the university’s IT staff is better equipped to manage applications across its entire infrastructure. This includes applications on Exchange ActiveSync mobile devices or on servers running on the UNIX or Linux operating systems. “We can configure System Center Operations Manager to send us text messages on our mobile devices, depending on the level of a problem,” says Al-Muhtadi.

“With System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, we use a dashboard with real-time monitoring of all critical applications, such as our student registration system,” says Alawwad. “We have much better information and reporting on the health of all our computers, including CPU and memory consumption, so we can take steps to fix an issue before it becomes a problem. Today, using System Center Operations Manager, we have improved the overall high availability of our services, reducing unplanned downtime by 30 percent.”

Improved Collaboration, Productivity—Anytime, Anywhere
Now the staff and students at KSU experience a better learning environment that fosters academic results. “A real endorsement of our Microsoft licensing agreement is that we have more satisfied users who benefit from improved messaging security and increased uptime for critical applications,” says Al-Muhtadi.

Today, faculty and staff have new ways to stay connected with the university, so they can work anytime, anywhere. Before, employees had no way of retrieving email when they traveled, but with the messaging solution based on Exchange, they can use mobile devices with ActiveSync to stay up-to-date with email messages and appointments while traveling to conferences or on business. “Previously, we didn’t have this connectivity. Now it’s easy to check email and calendars remotely,” says Samir Donia. “When we deploy unified messaging, staff will be able to dial into Exchange from their phones to get messages. And with the Lync client, staff can initiate an IM [instant message] session, make voice calls using a softphone, or conduct online meetings. We didn’t have any of these capabilities before.”

With SharePoint Server 2010, KSU has improved collaboration among university constituents through its Portal Project, resulting in a more connected learning environment. By using the user-friendly content management tools in SharePoint Server 2010, more than 4,600 faculty members can update their websites with scholarly publications and course-related materials. This number represents a jump from 20 percent of faculty staff members updating their own sites to more than 90. These websites are an important new way to share their academic endeavors with students. Students are using My Sites, called Seerati in Arabic, which translates to “My CV,” to post information about themselves and their studies. Also, the portal solution forms a valuable new conduit for broadcasting international conferences hosted by KSU, providing easy access to knowledge among students and researchers around the world.

“Our university and our Internet portal were ranked number one in the Arab world and number 186 of all universities worldwide by Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, in a report released July 2011,” says Al-Muhtadi. “We attribute this endorsement partly to our use of the Microsoft technologies included in our Campus Agreement. For King Saud University, it’s been a big success story.”

Microsoft Infrastructure Optimization
With infrastructure optimization, you can build a secure, well-managed, and dynamic core IT infrastructure that can reduce overall IT costs, make better use of resources, and become a strategic asset for the business. The Infrastructure Optimization model—with basic, standardized, rationalized, and dynamic levels—was developed by Microsoft using industry best practices and Microsoft’s own experiences with enterprise customers. The Infrastructure Optimization model provides a maturity framework that is flexible and easily used as a benchmark for technical capability and business value.

For more information about Microsoft infrastructure optimization, go to:

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:

For more information about King Saud University, call (966) 1 4675724 or visit the website at:

Solution Overview

Organization Size: 22000 employees

Organization Profile

King Saud University (KSU) serves nearly 65,000 students in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. KSU has 22,000 faculty and staff.

Business Situation

KSU wanted to standardize its IT infrastructure with up-to-date, interoperable technologies that it could use to realize its mission to provide students with a quality education.


KSU IT staff acquired a suite of Microsoft technologies through the Microsoft Campus Agreement that features the Enterprise Client Access License (CAL) Suite.


  • Reduced security costs by U.S.$600,000
  • Strengthened messaging security
  • Reduced spam by 225 percent
  • Reduced downtime by 30 percent
  • Improved collaboration, productivity

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Enterprise CAL Suite
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010
  • Microsoft Forefront Protection 2010 For Exchange Server
  • Microsoft Forefront Client Security
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Enterprise
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2
  • Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2

Vertical Industries
Higher Education

Saudi Arabia

Business Need
  • Cost Containment
  • Unified Communications
  • Corporate Software Licensing

IT Issue