The beginning of an era
If the roadmap for email archiving technology was like an elevator, then Rabobank got in on the ground floor and have been ascending a skyscraper ever since.
Continuing with our analogy, during a similar period, the yet-to-be-formed Cloudficient team were occupying various roles in organizations that designed and implemented elevators (archiving solutions). Later, they were also amongst the first people to start tackling the issues of switching from one elevator provider to another, ideally without seriously disrupting the folks just trying to get up and down to their offices everyday (or in this case, access their precious emails).
The era we’re trying to illustrate here, the period when Rabobank first implemented Symantec (now Veritas) Enterprise Vault, was around 2002. Early adopters of this particular solution, and indeed, archiving technology in general, Rabobank first installed EV in The Netherlands. Requirements for an archiving solution were originally born out of storage limitations inherent in Microsoft Exchange back then. EV provided a secondary retention and storage layer to the messaging infrastructure, underpinning email communications from, to and within the large multi-national bank.
The beginning of the end… of on-prem archiving
By 2016 Rabobank had neared the limit of what their elevator could feasibly do to support the business. Their centrally managed EV system had grown from one installation in The Netherlands fourteen years earlier, to now encompass nine different environments, spread over five continents. The largest of these was in Europe, representing user data of some twenty-four thousand employees down the years. This data accounted for current staff, as well as people who had long since left the business, but whose data was still being retained for a number of reasons. User archives, as well as journal archive mailboxes, had been in use for more than a decade in sites all over the planet.
There were beginning to be internal discussions about cloud migrations, namely to Microsoft Office 365. The recurrence of issues with Exchange (by now, version 2013) mailbox sizes began to intensify the debate.
A new age slowly dawns
2018 saw some serious progress away from that trusty old elevator, which was nearing the end of its product lifecycle. Two Rabobankers (named and quoted below), spurred on by the fact Office 365 was already being deployed across the business, found migration fanatics, Cloudficient, while conducting research. With deep expertise in EV retirement and O365 user onboarding, by the end of the year, a successful proof of concept had been completed and funding secured for the production migration to follow.
Operating in the Banking industry clearly requires a lot of vendor vetting and due diligence around contract management and security, especially if it’s a cloud-based SaaS solution. The process involved various stakeholders from a number of departments across Rabobank. Numerous steps and checks had to be completed before the project could truly get underway.
There was interaction with legal teams internally, in order to communicate the process that was about to be followed for each users’ data. Later into the project, the Rabobank team directly
responsible for the migration reported their progress to a Global Service Committee. Although, the project continued to be managed and run exclusively from The Netherlands.
Cloudficient’s solution and process for migrating from EV had to integrate seamlessly with the already running cloud onboarding process for Rabobank’s users. Several steps, such as User Communications, Licensing, Mailbox & Archive data synchronization and de-provisioning of users’ EV access, all had to be tested and automated.
Rabobank, even subject to all its restrictions and regulations associated with being a global finance enterprise, was amongst the very first customers to adopt a multi-geographic-tenancies approach to Office 365. Coordinating a project of this complexity and scale would be no easy task.
Getting the job done
Thanks to the high degree of automation the solution provided, the project team miraculously only needed to consist of three people – Rabobank Product Owner, Jacob Kralt, Rabobank Systems Engineer, Martin Tapak (with combined experience of more than thirty years with Rabobank between them), and one Cloudficient Migration Services expert.
Tapak recalls, “From the start of the production migration, I think the whole thing was done in about a year, but I remember being subject to quite a few dependencies from local IT teams in all our EV sites. That did slow our timeline a lot. I think we were only actually migrating data for half that time, so maybe six months in total.
Considering, by the end, we had moved data relating to some forty-thousand users, the scope of what we achieved really says something about us as a small team, and about the choice of technology we made early on. When we learned about Cloudficient’s EV retirement and Office 365 onboarding service, we believed we’d found the best partner able to perform a migration like this at scale. We were proved right and particularly valued being able to automate our predefined migration steps. The way our extensive journal archives were handled was also particularly impressive.”
Modern migration methods for modern archiving solutions
Going back to our previous analogy briefly, Rabobank’s messaging infrastructure and accompanying archiving in Office 365 now resembled the smoothest, most luxurious elevator ride you can imagine, with users’ data gliding effortlessly up to its designated repository in the cloud.
“True SaaS, sold and delivered direct, with a fixed-price for a fixed outcome, underpinned by exceptional performance with highly sophisticated automation and project governance”Peter Kozak, Co-Founder and CEO @ Cloudficient
Cloudficient’s methodologies and technology was also evolved to meet modern standards for the world’s most demanding migrations. The mantra had already become, “True SaaS, sold and delivered direct, with a fixed-price for a fixed outcome, underpinned by exceptional performance with highly sophisticated automation and project governance” (Peter Kozak, Co-Founder and CEO @ Cloudficient).
So, who learned what?
Once the project had been completed and signed off, the Rabobank Global Services Committee which Jacob Kralt had been reporting to throughout, learned that their over forty-thousand users’ data had reached its destination and they were now finally able to decommission EV. They also learned that a potentially tricky project in several senses, including legally and financially, had been handled with care and that Rabobank had, as much as an enterprise can, future-proofed its email by moving to the cloud.
“It was the flexibility of the solution that delivered such exceptional value, coupled with the scale of what we were able to achieve with limited project resources.”Jacob Kralt
Jacob Kralt and Martin Tapak learned, if they didn’t know already, that great things can be achieved with modest means if a few good decisions are made early on in a lengthy and complicated process.
Kralt explained, “It was the flexibility of the solution that delivered such exceptional value, coupled with the scale of what we were able to achieve with limited project resources”
The team at Cloudficient learned for sure (they were already very confident), that their modern migration methodology could deliver at scale, under strict regulatory compliance conditions, for enterprise customers on a global level. It was a ringing endorsement of the technology and the approach.
Business email users, and the critical information they create when using services employers provide, deserve and require modern technology at the heart of their daily routines. When enterprises are sometimes forced to jump between providers of this technology, the migration solution employed shouldn’t be any different – it should be up to a standard that provides the best possible experience for the various stakeholders invested in the project going well. The people delivering this technology should also focus hard on meeting each unique customers’ desired outcomes, quickly, efficiently and at a pre-agreed price.
Don’t get shafted when you need to replace that old elevator everyone’s been talking about!