“The reasons we chose Binary Tree and Nero Blanco, the company’s partner in the U.K., were obvious: a high level of professionalism and technical expertise; the ability to migrate over a single weekend; pre-migration support excellence; value; and no loss of user productivity!"
- Alan Parker, IT Governance Manager, CfBT
As a global consultancy and provider of best practices in education, CfBT wanted to modernize its email platform by migrating from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Office 365. Notes/Domino was increasingly expensive to maintain in terms of people and the platform was no longer going to be supported. At the same time, the ogranization wanted to be prudent about its choice of software, so approached Microsoft for some guidance. With 15 people in their IT department, CfBT wanted to make sure that everyone was involved, before, during and after the migration.
The Solution from Nero Blanco and Binary Tree
Another firm suggested that CfBT perform a phased or multi-part migration; however that was not attractive for a number of factors, including the high cost. According to Parker, “We approached our Board with the Binary Tree/Nero Blanco solution, which we fondly called ‘the big bang’ because the entire migration was to occur at once, and they backed our choice completely.”
CfBT couldn’t be happier. “Nothing was too much trouble for Nero Blanco. They were patient and answered all of our questions, as well as guided us through a thorough pre-migration methodology. I would say that they were outstanding on the change management side, advising us on user preparedness to ensure no loss of productivity. The feedback from our management team was that they had not witnessed such a smooth transition on an IT project ever!”
Preparing for the Migration
90% of the work was accomplished up front and involved making sure all Directory Synchronization issues were resolved beforehand. That way, when Nero Blanco performed the actual migration, there was a high level of confidence it would be successful. On the Domino side, that meant ensuring connectivity to all of the Lotus Notes servers and making sure that any groups, Nero Blanco and the IT team at CfBT walked through as many scenarios as possible to identify any obstacles. The entire preparation stage took about a month.
Overcoming Project Complexities
One of the complexities involved how groups and shared mailboxes were going to be used. There were some users who wanted their passwords synchronized from the network automatically, while others didn’t use the network at all and therefore only needed Office 365 accounts. To resolve this, a solution was created manually in the cloud, so both situations could be addressed. In addition, with Domino, many users had one email address in Active Directory and another email address and/or user principal name elsewhere. Nero Blanco made sure that all email addresses were aligned and groups created properly during the preparation stage.
The Importance of User Communications
To ensure a smooth transition, CfBT spent a lot of time with communications. They held sessions around the businesses, as well as face-to-face meetings with managers, as well as with the Board. There were also frequent email communications, so users could be aware of the countdown/run-up, online training, and opportunity to have any questions answered before and after the migration. A great deal of time and effort was spent considering the impact to users; in fact, it was so important that is was one person’s dedicated role.
Achieving Migration Success
Nero Blanco opted to use a staging server in the Microsoft Azure cloud so they could replicate the Notes assets in Azure and then migrate from there for faster throughput. They migrated 30 days worth of data/email, apart from some VIPs who had all of their mail migrated. The migration went very smoothly and was sited as one of the most successful IT projects ever at CfBT. From Binary Tree’s perspective, the success of the project includes the fact that Nero Blanco is proven and excellent to work with long term.