Anatomy Of A Cloud Migration: Inside The Channel Company's IT Transformation


TRANSITION TIME

Shortly before the Thanksgiving break, the migration team began its step-by-step process to move each employee from the UBM network to the new TCC (The Channel Company) network. And the first step was migrating to a new Office 365 Outlook email server and email accounts.

"That was an easy one," Brown said. "It went largely as planned."

The migration team focused on one office location at a time, starting with The Channel Company's Irvine, Calif., office as the test case just before Thanksgiving and continuing through the first week of December. 

Once the email conversion was completed, the migration team wasted no time; the following week the team began to move each workstation to the new The Channel Company cloud platform and sever connections with the old UBM network. This also included removing all UBM software (security programs, VPNs, etc.) and installing new remote desktop software and antivirus applications.

Again, the GreenPages/LogicsOne team performed the migration one day and one office location at a time (one office was migrated during its Christmas party). This step also meant moving off all shared file servers from the UBM infrastructure and to Microsoft's SkyDrive in Office 365.

But because the former UBM Channel used shared infrastructure with others parts of UBM, this step was much more complicated than a simple email migration. For a full week, employees were restricted to read-only access to shared UBM network folders, which meant that users could see the files but couldn't update or add any new files or folders during the process. 

"The Channel Company was deeply integrated with UBM, and that was a huge challenge," said Hall. "The integration was deep, it was down to the file level, so it was like going into a veggie omelet and trying to take out just one type of vegetable."

And as the saying goes, you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. As the team migrated each employee workstation to the new TCC data center platform (a process that took about 30 minutes per machine), there were more wrinkles. For example, the previously mentioned Windows XP systems had to be replaced with new systems because XP didn't support Office 365. In addition, there were issues with migrating some Mac systems.

But by mid-December, The Channel Company was completely off UBM's network, and all data folders and file servers were transferred to The Channel Company cloud platform; to speed up the transfer, The Channel Company bought new NAS systems and shipped them to the Atlanta data center. And at that point more than half of employee workstations had been migrated to The Channel Company platform, too.

"Getting off the UBM network and getting our own platform live was a big milestone," Brown said. 

By Christmas virtually all workstations were migrated from UBM's software and systems. GreenPages/Logics One also set up new wireless networks for each office and began rolling out its IT support and help desk services for The Channel Company. The Channel Company had a new Infrastructure-as-a-Service platform, cloud-based office and ERP applications, and had shed most of its IT infrastructure costs in the span of just a few short months.

"We extracted the Channel Company from UBM and stood it up like a brand-new startup," Hall said. "It was like getting a body transplant. We took an established company that had been around for 40 years and put it in the body of a 17-year-old."

But there was still more work to be done.

FINAL HURDLES AND THE FUTURE

After a brief break for the holidays, it was back to work.  With the TCC data center platform live and all employee workstations migrated, attention turned to website hosting. Throughout January the migration team transferred dozens of websites such as The Channel Company's new home page and XChange Events' website, from UBM servers to new Rackspace servers.

By the time February arrived, every website and URL was off UBM's infrastructure except one: CRN.com.

The flagship site of The Channel Company was not only being migrated to a new hosting destination, but the site was getting an extreme makeover as well, thanks to a new design and content management system. In addition, the CMS for the iPad and Windows 8 tablet apps had to be integrated with the new website CMS and re-launched -- at the same time.

But on Feb. 5, the new CRN.com and its CMS went live with virtually no downtime or interruptions. "We did the Web hosting transition piece by piece," Brown said, "and CRN was the biggest piece."

NEXT: The Last Hurdle