Automate and streamline your Active Directory migration

This is the next post in our series about how automation can improve migrations. In this case, migrations of Active Directory. This is a great type of project to automate because it can help you cut through complexity, avoid human error, and deliver results on schedule, without costly downtime or having to work through a weekend.

You might need to migrate Active Directory for many reasons. Your organization might be going through a merger, acquisition, or divestiture. Maybe you’re embarking on a joint venture, and you need a way for employees in separate organizations to find each other. Or maybe it’s simply that the design of your Active Directory no longer meets your business needs, so you need to consolidate.

Downtime and delays are rampant

Whatever your reason, you’ll soon find that these types of migrations can be challenging. For one, they tend to happen infrequently (usually every 2-5 years), so your IT staff doesn’t have the chance to stay fresh on the process. Which means the hours for these types of migrations can quickly balloon from anywhere from 25 hours to more than 100 hours, says a survey from Vision Solutions.

And there’s more. The survey also showed that 66% of migrations are delayed and 64% of them go over budget. Plus, 43% tend to cause downtime, sometimes as much as 6 or more hours. The two main reasons for this are lack of planning and missing capabilities in your migration software.

The right solution

To beat the odds and make your migration a success, you need to follow some key steps and choose the right product that can automate even the most complex of scenarios. Below, we share three key phases (including the oft-neglected planning phase) and then walk you through four common migration options.

Phase 1: Plan your automation

Automation doesn’t come automatically, so you need to spend time up front figuring out the logistics. Many organizations don’t spend enough time on this step, which is why they often run into issues midstream. We often find with our clients that this phase can easily take as much time (or more) as the migration itself. But if you put together a thorough plan, it speeds your migration, keeps you on cost and on schedule, and—most importantly—avoids disrupting your users.

In the planning phase, you should:

  • Assess the ins and outs of your existing directories
  • Clean up any issues in your existing directories (like duplicate users, extra spaces)
  • Decide which users to move (and delete or archive the rest)
  • Choose the right migration solution, based on your requirements (more on this below)

Phase 2: Sync directories

This is an area in which automation can be extremely helpful. You might need your old and new directories to stay in sync for the weeks or months it takes you to migrate. Throughout your migration, users should still be able to look up others in a shared directory to easily send emails and calendar invites. The right automation solution can automate this coexistence and keep it running smoothly throughout your migration.

Phase 3: Migrate to a unified directory

Now you’re ready to move on to the actual migration. The good news is that directories are relatively simple lists of details. So it’s pretty easy to move user details from one directory to another. The challenge is to make sure the move is done accurately, efficiently, and with the highest fidelity for the content. This is an area in which automation is a huge help. It greatly speeds the process and reduces the chance for human error.

Migration options

Now let’s talk about your options to automate your migration. There are four common paths, each one with its own pros and cons:

Option 1: Do it yourself. This is where you write your own scripts to automate the migration. The pro here is that you can deeply customize your migration to your needs. But unless you’re a whiz at Active Directory migrations, writing your own scripts can take significant time, with much trial and error. And there’s a higher chance of downtime and delays, as we mentioned before.

Option 2: Download a free script. There are often quite a few free scripts available on the Internet. Grabbing one of these can be tempting to save time and money and avoid recreating the wheel. But it’s unlikely that someone else’s script will be flexible enough to address all of the unique edge cases in your organization. No two migrations are alike.

Option 3: Use a Microsoft tool. Migration tools provided by Microsoft (like ADMT) can work well for smaller migrations with a limited scope. But it comes back to the old adage: you get what you pay for. Free tools tend not to give you the flexibility and scale you need for larger enterprise migrations. For these more complex migrations, Microsoft even recommends you turn to its network of partners.

Option 4: Lean on third-party software and services. This is often your best bet to automate your migration. In fact, many of our clients come to us after having gone down the path of one or more of the options above. The benefit here is that you can partner with someone who’s an expert, who does Active Directory migrations day in and day out. They’ve already done the automation and have put it through its paces with other companies before you. They’ve worked out the kinks and know what to watch out for to keep your migration on schedule and on budget.

Meet Active Directory Pro

With our Active Directory Pro, you can merge, consolidate, or restructure your directories. While you migrate, it also keeps your users, devices, and applications in sync—all without requiring costly downtime. And it’s flexible enough to handle even the most complex enterprise scenarios.

With Active Directory Pro, you can:

  • Customize the migration to meet the requirements of even the most complex scenarios
  • Migrate during business hours, without disrupting your users
  • Migrate remote users without asking them to come into the office
  • Keep your data secure as you migrate
  • Get real-time data about every step of your migration

Learn more

For more, see the Active Directory Pro landing page. Or contact us to chat more about how Active Directory Pro can automate your next migration.