Athabasca University (AU) is one of the world’s foremost and fastest-growing online and open education institutions, serving over 40,000 students across 81 countries. AU is the second-largest university in Alberta, Canada. AU offers online bachelors, masters, and doctorate programs alongside online courses for both personal learning and professional development. It is uniquely founded on the principles of flexibility and openness, giving students control over their studies so they can learn whenever and wherever it is right for them.


Athabasca University’s mission is to break down the barriers that restrict access to and success in post-secondary education for adult learners. AU has a passion for digitally enabled learning and for reaching learners wherever they are, whenever they are ready. To help achieve their ambitious goal, they decided to implement a brand-new state-of-the-art Learning Management System (LMS) called D2L Brightspace that creates a personalized learning path to help learners realize their full potential.

Historically, Athabasca University had two tenants: one tenant for their students and the other one for their staff. D2L Brightspace only allows access through one tenant, and to implement this integrated learning management system, Athabasca University had to bring both students and staff into the same Microsoft 365 tenant (M365).

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Athabasca University turned to Softlanding as they were already providing managed services to support their team but also because they knew Softlanding had the expertise and experience to undertake this big project within a tight timeline i.e., approximately 10 weeks.

The Softlanding team helped with pinpointing the requirements and the technical details necessary to make this migration project smooth and successful. The Microsoft 365 tenant consolidation migration allowed to have one single tenant while keeping the separation in place between staff and students and involved the following:

  • 43,000 mailboxes and 53,000 users were migrated.
  • 63 migration waves in total: up to 1,100 users per wave and multiple waves were run in parallel.
  • 19,000 Azure Directory legacy accounts were moved.
  • 4 Terabytes of mailbox data were moved.
  • Over 16 Terabytes of OneDrive data were migrated.

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  • Smooth migration without interruption

Despite the high volume of mailboxes and documents that had to be migrated, the M365 tenant migration went smoothly and was completed on time and under budget for the students to start using the D2L Brightspace platform.

  • Enhanced account protection and security for students

The tenant migration enabled Athabasca University to implement additional security tools such as password security, multi-factor authentication, and self-serve password reset (SSPR) which resulted in better security and account protection for the students.

  • Improved collaboration between staff and students

Now that students and staff are in the same tenant, they can interact through the learning management platform and collaborate better thanks to the M365 productivity tools such as Microsoft Teams.

  • Easier IT administration

Managing their students and staff through a single administrative process has made IT administration easier and more efficient.

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