Boeing produces more commercial jetliners and military aircraft than any other company. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Boeing employs more than 158,000 people across the United States and in 70 countries. In 2009, Boeing completed the deployment of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, which simplified the IT environment and provided employees with larger mailboxes. Looking for opportunities to reduce costs and improve services, Boeing joined the Microsoft Rapid Deployment Program for Exchange Server 2010 to test the latest messaging software. By deploying this release, Boeing hopes to improve employee productivity and enhance unified messaging.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Boeing leads the aerospace industry as the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft. Additionally, Boeing designs and manufactures rotorcraft, electronic and defense systems, missiles, satellites, launch vehicles, and advanced information and communication systems.
Boeing views e-mail as a critical infrastructure service because the company uses it in so many processes. “We may have a high-value asset in a remote region, like an aircraft that needs a part. We use e-mail to process those requests,” explains Dean Sepstrup, Product Manager for Exchange at Boeing. Because it must rely on e-mail for these exchanges, the company has set extremely high availability requirements—99.99 percent, or less than one hour of downtime a year.
Boeing recently migrated to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 e-mail messaging and collaboration software as its messaging solution, deploying about 40 two-node clusters across its data centers. Each cluster handles approximately 4,000 mailboxes and contains a Standby Continuous Replication (SCR) node at a different data center to provide site resilience. In conjunction with the migration of Exchange Server 2007, Boeing moved from its storage area network (SAN) to a cheaper direct-attached storage (DAS) system, while also increasing mailbox sizes from 30 megabytes (MB) to 1 gigabyte (GB).
Even with larger mailboxes, Boeing employees rely on Outlook Data Files (PSTs) to retain additional messages. About 40 percent of employees have more than 2 GB—some up to 20 GB—of PST files stored on personal hard drives. The company uses an application that creates incremental backup files of PST content from employees’ computers. This process is an additional large expense for the company, and it does not make the data available for searching within Exchange Server.
In 2008, Boeing piloted a full unified communications solution, incorporating enterprise voice with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Exchange Server with Unified Messaging.
As a participant in the Microsoft Rapid Deployment Program, Boeing decided to deploy a pilot of Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 to preview the updated architecture and features in this release.
||The speech-to-text features will be great for our 20,000 or so mobile device users because they will be able to access their voice-mail messages even if they can’t call into the system.
Product Manager for Exchange, Boeing
One particular area of improvement that interested Boeing was storage. Because Exchange Server 2010 has a 70 percent reduction in input/output (I/O) from Exchange Server 2007, it requires less performance from the storage system. Therefore, Boeing can use lower-end disks, such as Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) disks, in the storage system, which is its long-term goal. In the short term, Boeing does not plan to purchase new storage; it will deploy Exchange Server 2010 on the storage hardware it currently has installed.
By moving to a redundant array of independent disks (RAID) 5 or a RAID-less configuration, Boeing can significantly increase the amount of available storage. “Before we move to SATA drives, we will evaluate the ability to rebuild our current storage clusters without the RAID 10 configuration that we have now and maybe go with a RAID 5 or no RAID at all,” says Joel Sanders, Boeing Outlook Product Manager.
In addition to the storage changes, Boeing will use the Database Availability Group feature in Exchange Server 2010 to provide automatic failover at the database level. Without the complexity of traditional clustering, a database-level disruption such as a disk failure will not affect all the users on a server. Because there is no longer a strong tie between the database and a server, it is easy to move databases between servers.
With the deployment of Exchange Server 2010, Boeing will take its unified messaging deployment beyond the pilot stage. Using Voice-Mail Preview, employees can access a text-based translation of a voice-mail message from a unified inbox in Microsoft Outlook 2010, Outlook Web App, or Outlook Mobile 2010. They can also view a caller’s information, respond to messages via e-mail, file them in folders, or tag them by conversation topic for easy access.
By deploying Exchange Server 2010, Boeing expects to see benefits in the areas of employee productivity, unified messaging, and more flexible control for employees who need to perform specific tasks in the messaging environment.
Improved Employee Productivity
Boeing hopes to increase mailbox quotas so that employees will no longer need to use PST files. Employees would save time managing their mailboxes, and Boeing would save money by retiring the software that it currently uses to back up their PST files.
Enhanced Unified Messaging
With Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging, Boeing employees will have more control over how and when they respond to voice mail. Sepstrup explains, “The speech-to-text features will be great for our 20,000 or so mobile device users because they will be able to access their voice-mail messages even if they can’t call into the system.” Because Boeing has offices in many countries, many Boeing employees will also enjoy having the voice-mail service in their local language.
Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
Exchange 2010 can help you achieve better business outcomes while controlling the costs of deployment, administration, and compliance. Exchange delivers the widest range of deployment options, integrated information leakage protection, and advanced compliance capabilities, that combine to form the best messaging and collaboration solution available.
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For more information about Microsoft Unified Communications, go to:
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