Shifting to Microsoft and Advice to Follow
ACI just recently made the decision to migrate their Messaging and Collaboration environment from Google to Microsoft’s Office 365 platform. While Google did a great job providing a platform that supported the business for a number of years, the company made the move because of challenges the business was facing in meeting security and regulatory requirements while on the Google platform. To date they have completed the Messaging migration, and still have the personal drive and SharePoint migrations to complete. The migration onto the Office 365 Exchange and Lync platform was an incredibly smooth process. ACI leveraged a third party contractor to assist in the transition and with 3 weeks of planning, they were able to roll out the Microsoft Office client and migrate all of the historical email, calendar and contacts for more than 6,000 mailboxes in just 3 additional weeks, moving more than 170 Million emails in that time. The company cut to the new platform during a weekend with little to no disruption during the move. As with any new platform, some will see the difference as welcome and others may not, and there is always a learning curve that comes with new tools, however there are wide reports from across the company that they are finding that the new toolset is enabling them to be far more efficient than they were previously. The connection between Lync, OneNote and Outlook are especially helpful in creating collaborative meetings, especially in a global environment where the meeting participants are scattered throughout the world.
Advice for Other CIOs
Microsoft, not surprisingly, has a push to move companies from Google and other mail and collaboration platforms onto their Office 365 platform. While there is a clean process to move email items from Google to Office 365, that is not as true for Contacts, Calendars, Google Drive, or Google Sites. There are several third party solutions that can do a good job moving the Calendars and Contacts. These tend to work reasonably well, with only a few issues that are reasonably easy to plan for. However, the Sites and Google Drive are a bit more complicated, to the point that it would drive some to recreate their sites on SharePoint from scratch. This is not an issue in smaller environments, but when you have thousands of pages that would need to be migrated, it can be a real problem. Especially on a migration, schedule where there is an expectation to shut down the legacy service in some specified timeframe. It definitely came as a surprise that Microsoft would have this push to sign on new clients without the suite of migration tools included to support these migrations.
“For a CIO and their IT department to maintain their relevance to the company, they must understand their role as a Service Provider that enables the business”
In today’s world of Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce.com, and hosted Oracle Fusion, the IT department c an become irrelevant very quickly. T he proliferation of these cloud/SAAS services can be largely driven by the business itself in situations where complex configuration is unnecessary. For a CIO and their IT department to maintain their relevance to the company, they must understand their role as a Service Provider that enables the business. Enable growth, enable employees to collaborate, enable sales, etc. Aligning the IT organization to both deliver a service and engage with the business is critical. The goal for IT should be to become an extension of the each department’s organization, attending staff meetings and truly understanding the domain. By understanding the business and the business process, the IT organization can apply technology to the business process that will help to drive down costs, drive up efficiency, and become that business enabler. Of course, in order to earn that seat at the table, the IT service must be reliable and delivered in a way that is meaningful to the business. Completing that picture is transparency. By showing the business how the IT dollars f low throughout the organization in the IT services and how those services are consumed by each business unit, the CIO can put the control into the hands of the business to drive and prioritize the work that IT does, becoming an executive level consultant to the leadership of the business.