Author: Hu Yoshida, Chief Technology Officer, Hitachi Vantara
On September 19, 2017, Hitachi Vantara was revealed at the Hitachi Next 2017 event in Las Vegas. This is a new company, combining the human resources and broad portfolio of innovation, development and experience from across Hitachi Data Systems, Hitachi Insight and Pentaho, to target the IoT market and deliver data-driven solutions for commercial and industrial enterprises.
From the moment the ‘reveal’ button was pressed, IT was able to switch over 10,751 users across three companies in a total of 30 hours where no single user was down for more than a few hours! Where users needed to use email, they were referred to their web client, so in fact no one was really out of email contact.
The switch-over was done on a follow-the-sun basis. First were the attendees at the Las Vegas event, and then Asia Pacific, followed by EMEA, then the Americas. Each region was done in two batches, to ensure that if the migration process took longer than intended, the region’s location would still be able to operate before the next batch kicked in. The Americas was done in three batches due to the size of the region. The target was for this to be done in 36 hours, and the goal was to do most of it overnight in each region.
Since we are on Office 365, being in the cloud was helpful but it also meant that the transfer was dependent on cloud performance. This wasn’t just about emails. This meant changing our network certificates, rebranding external websites, working with Akamai on our content changes, installing new desktop branding on all clients, and changing the email signatures. Even with all this, IT was able to beat their internal target by 6 hours!
While from my experience the transition was seamless, the team told me that there was an increase in service calls which the service desk had prepared for.
No matter how much you communicate, there is always someone who didn’t read the prep email and was surprised when their email wasn’t working. Those calls would be answered by explaining what was being done and the work around - which was to use webmail.
With all the mobile devices out in the field and many BYOD users there was bound to be some problems so the transition team set up a virtual war room. Instead of a physical war room they used a Skype for Business chat room and connected support personnel around the world with instant messaging and collaboration tools. They also credited the teamwork of our users who helped each other without the need to call support.
Integrating three companies in flight into one legal entity is a once in a lifetime experience, and is a task that would normally take a year or more to accomplish.
Over a year ago, our IT began to adopt the Agile methodology, which broke down the operational silos across IT and the rest of the business. IT has also been modernizing their core in their digital transformation effort.
During the past year alone, they integrated a new CRM system into the business, migrated the data center from Indianapolis to a hosted facility in Colorado where we are hosting services for other Hitachi Companies, redesigned our website for mobile devices, and moved our email to Office 365 in the cloud.
This is a good example of where the digital transformation that has been going on in IT, really showed its worth.