A Joint Venture in Automotive Interiors
Migrates to a New Directory

“To migrate to a new Active Directory, we had to perform what I called ‘open heart surgery’ on 60 manufacturing sites across the world. With support from Binary Tree, we met our goal on time and on budget, with no issues or unplanned downtime. I was able to report up to my executive team that the project was successful.”

—Kay Matthiesen, Director of Global Infrastructure for YFAI


Yanfeng Automotive Interiors (YFAI) is a joint venture between Yanfeng, one of the largest automotive suppliers in China, and ADIENT, the global leader in automotive seating (formerly a part of Johnson Controls). Since they formed the venture in 2015, they needed to set up a new IT infrastructure exclusively for YFAI—including a brand-new Active Directory—and then migrate all sites and users to the new environment.

The IT equivalent of open heart surgery

YFAI needed to migrate 9,000 workstations from the ADIENT Active Directory to a new YFAI Active Directory. But with migration needed at 60+ sites spread across Asia, Europe, and North America, this was a complex task—the IT equivalent of open heart surgery. In this case, they had acquired a company with 170 employees. The good news: The acquired company was already running their own tenant of Office 365.

The project came with a slew of unique challenges. To start, the security considerations of the joint venture meant that while servers and workstations had to be migrated between networks, the networks could never be directly connected. Nor could a trust be established between the Active Directory instances of ADIENT and YFAI.

They also needed to migrate several key servers that directly run their manufacturing processes, which means the migration had to be completed in small maintenance windows, with zero unplanned downtime for the JIT (just in time) plants.

As a final layer of complexity, they had to migrate workstations for remote employees who rarely or never visit one of their physical offices. So their IT team wouldn’t be able to physically access those machines.

The search for a flexible, responsive solution

After several months of investigation, planning and working through the logistics on their own, YFAI decided to engage a partner to help speed the effort. They spoke with several vendors and had finally chosen the team from Binary Tree.

“When we talked to other vendors, it sounded like it would be 10 or 100 times more complicated to bring them in,” said Kay Matthiesen, Director of Global Infrastructure for YFAI. “But we were impressed with the flexibility, professionalism, and responsiveness of the team from Binary Tree. They understood the scope of our project and stood behind their commitments.”

The results: Mail Migrated

Within a few weeks, Brunswick had used Power365 to migrate all in-scope  mailboxes to their primary tenant of Office 365.  

The project was a success thanks to a combination of Brunswick’s competent technical team, support from their executives, and professional services from Binary Tree to help work through any issues that came up.

“Mid-project, I sent a late-night email, not expecting an immediate response,” said Mike Erickson, Manager of Cloud Services for Brunswick. “Instead, what happened was the team from Binary Tree jumped in and got to work.”

A hands on, bespoke solution

YFAI partnered with Binary Tree to create bespoke processes to manage each of their migration scenarios, all using Binary Tree’s Active Directory Pro. Binary Tree also trained their technical team to use the software, including run books. And throughout the migration, Binary Tree was on hand to ensure everything
went smoothly and that any issues would be resolved quickly.

A sub into the SWAT team

Binary Tree was also quick to respond to a special request. To facilitate the migration at each site, YFAI had assembled a SWAT team of engineers who traveled from site to site. When one of them had to drop off the project, Kay reached out to Binary Tree for an engineer to step in.

Binary Tree was quick to oblige. “Within 24 hours, Binary Tree came back with a name,” said Kay. “Within 48 hours, I had confirmation that the person could be available to help out with our onsite efforts. In fact, they’re still engaged today. And I consider them as part of our team.”

The “surgeries” were a success—with no downtime or issues

YFAI completed their “open heart” migrations on time and within budget. And they were able to do it all without establishing a trust between directories. Or requiring remote users to come into an office.

“The Binary Tree team was really supportive,” said Kay. “We’re a manufacturing company, and we only had short maintenance windows to migrate a particular site. For all the migrations, we met the deadline for the maintenance window. We had no outages due to the production updates.”


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