Serena has completed its migration from Microsoft Exchange to Google's Gmail and it took only 3 hours of dedicated work from two Serena IT workers, the company said. On March 9, Serena moved more than 700 employees at locations around the world from Microsoft Exchange to Gmail, Google's e-mail service offering in the cloud.
Serena Software, a maker of application lifecycle management software and
cloud computing solutions, has completed its migration from Microsoft Exchange
to Google's Gmail, and it took only 3 hours of dedicated work from two Serena
IT workers to take one of Serena's own internal applications to the cloud, the
originally reported that Serena planned to dump Exchange for Google's Gmail e-mail
in November of 2008. A Serena spokesman said the company initially
had planned to migrate everyone over by the end of 2008, "however, we were
waiting for Gmail's offline access," he said. "Once that was released,
we accelerated our plans to migrate everyone and did it as early as
Serena officials said that on March 9 Serena moved more than 700 employees
at locations around the world from Microsoft Exchange to Gmail. Rene Bonvanie,
senior vice president of marketing, information technology and Serena on
Demand, said he believes Serena's is the largest single-company migration ever
within a 24-hour time period.
Indeed, Bonvanie said the interesting thing about this migration is that it
only took two IT people 3 hours to configure everything on the back end for the
migration versus the three full days that they initially thought it would take.
In addition, each Serena employee only had to spend 10 minutes setting up an
account before they could start sending and receiving e-mail.
Ron Brister, Serena's IT manager who headed the Gmail migration, said Serena
overprepared for the migration. Serena devoured information about Google's applications
and then prepared documentation and videos of its own to prepare the Serena
staff for the idea of a migration, he said.
"We did documentation, videos and a PR campaign to blast out
information," Brister said. "Then we brought in our early adopters-one,
to give us feedback, and also they were going to become our first line of
defense" for Serena staff who had questions about the migration. There
were three rounds of early adopters-about 140 people-who migrated over to Gmail
early, he said.
Then on the weekend of March 6, Serena did its cutover. The team started on
Friday evening, and "it was a 3-hour project for two people to get
everybody migrated," Brister said. "We thought it would take eight
people working around the clock for eight days," but the migration was all
set before the weekend was over.
"I've never done an Exchange rollover that only took a total of 6 man
hours," Brister said. And although the migration was done by March 9,
"March 9 for us started at noon
on the 8th because APAC [Asia Pacific] was
going to be coming on for their morning. We thought we'd have the hotline lit
up when they came in, but they had no problems and we wound up playing Wii
bowling. We only got two calls." Later that night when more and more
people from different locations began to come online, the IT department got a
little busier. But altogether they only had to field 41 calls, "mostly
from people who hadn't read the documentation," he said.
"It became such a non-event, but I had people all set to work 13-hour
shifts around the clock," Brister said. In all, Serena moved more than 735
people to Gmail on March 9.
Kyle Arteaga, Serena's vice president of communications, said he ported more
than 11,000 e-mails from Exchange to Gmail, and it takes up only 3 percent of
his available storage space. Arteaga said with Exchange he was receiving
notices every few weeks to clear out space in his mailbox or he would not be
able to receive any new mail. Brister said he recalls one Serena employee who
ported more than 135,000 messages and was only at about 7 percent of his
Moreover, Bonvanie said he believes that "with Google you're going to
send a lot less e-mail because you're likely to do a lot more IM [instant
Why did Serena get rid of Microsoft Exchange? Two reasons, Bonvanie said.
"The first is purely economic-we believe we can save the company $1
million in three years."
Serena's second reason for the migration has to do with the company's focus
on moving its customers to the cloud. "We want to put our company into the
cloud as well," Bonvanie said. "And we want to put all of our
applications into the cloud. Mail is just one. ... You know how much we've been
on the SAAS [software-as-a-service] train. The Google experience is an example
of putting the end user in the driver's seat because there are very few
examples of applications that are as personal or affect people as much as e-mail."
Brister said he views the migration and Serena's evolution to be part of a
trend of "IT opening up and allowing -consumerized' technologies into the
building. That would never happen before."
Brister also said Google was perhaps a perfect partner in the effort. He
said he was pleasantly surprised at Google's ability to respond so quickly and
completely to his queries.
Rajen Sheth, Google's senior product manager for Google Apps, said he thinks
Serena's effort serves as a "great example of a significant-sized company
moving over to Google Apps. It stands out because of the user benefits and also
for how quickly they were able to do the migration."
Sheth said that although Serena is not the largest migration that Google has
seen move away from Microsoft to Google's applications, "it is one of the
larger ones. We have companies like Genentech" that were bigger
"The main thing from our side is it's been great to see how many midsize
and large-size companies have been willing to try Google Apps, and more
companies are moving to the cloud," Sheth said.