“We are extremely satisfied with the service provided by valantic (formaley cedros). Their cooperation with our domestic and international departments was committed and characterised by productivity and collegiality. If we had to do the project again, we would definitely choose valantic as a project partner.”
Bernhard Schuchert, Head of IT at CLAAS
CLAAS is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of agricultural machinery. Based in Harsewinkel, Westphalia, the company is the European market leader for combine harvesters. CLAAS is also a world market leader in its second largest product group, self-propelled forage harvesters. The CLAAS product range additionally includes tractors, round and square balers, green harvest machinery, telescopic loaders and CLASS EASY Products, which demonstrate their electronic competence. CLAAS has production sites at four German and eight international locations, employs approximately 11,500 people worldwide and reported a turnover of 3.8 billion euros in the 2015 financial year.
Project objective & tasks
The goal of the project was the company-wide conversion of the email infrastructure to Microsoft Exchange 2013. To achieve this objective, we first needed to plan a completely new target infrastructure, then install it and put it into operation. At the completion of the migration, approximately 9,000 seats were available.
CLAAS is an international company with 11,500 employees at 30 production and sales locations in 17 countries. The new Exchange infrastructure would be centrally managed and provided by the main office in Harsewinkel – as was the case with the former Domino infrastructure. This meant that the conversion would affect all employees at each location throughout the world. Such a complex migration must be undertaken smoothly during ongoing operation and therefore project organisation was one of the most significant challenges.
The new Exchange infrastructure is future-proof and growth oriented in dimension and will continue to function smoothly, even with up to 15,000 users.
What were the reasons for the email migration?
The strategic decision in favour of Microsoft had already been made some time ago. Because CLAAS follows a limited vendor strategy, the number of Microsoft products being implemented is increasing. This also has a positive effect on cost saving in the licensing area. The conversion of the email infrastructure was therefore a logical consequence.
What were the circumstances surrounding the project?
Initially, there was an invitation to tender that was open to a limited circle of bidders. CLAAS invited us to participate in this tender because we had previously conducted a software-supported analysis of the existing Notes infrastructure. This analysis enabled us to determine the investment value of the business-critical Notes application. Our analysis also formed the foundation for further migration planning. One component of the migration planning comprised the migration of the email infrastructure. CLASS chose our team for the execution of this component.
Level 1: The preliminary project
No two migration projects are alike. Prior to a migration, there are many questions to clarify to ensure that all participants have a unified understanding of the project objective. We conduct a preliminary project to achieve this goal. Our preliminary project consists of a series of workshops and planning sessions. Together during these workshops and sessions, the following questions were compiled:
- What are the framework conditions?
- What are the expectations of the various departments and IT coordinators?
- How should the target infrastructure be constructed – particularly with regards to:
– Mobile connectivity
– High availability
– Load tests
Using these results, we could prepare a detailed milestone plan which served as a foundation for the entire project. Technical plans were also documented to better estimate the alignment of the desired infrastructure.
The commissioning of the complete project followed the conclusion of the preliminary project and we could begin working on the main project.
Level 2: The main project
The main migration approach was defined by many recurring routines, albeit routines with a high level of complexity. During the implementation, we could rely on our many years of experience in this area. The technical migration tools we used included Dell software and our own management and organisational tools that we have developed for this purpose.
One of the core elements of our projects is the operating manual. It consists of the project documentation and the infrastructure specifications and it defines the responsibilities. The operating manual grows during the project and is filled successively. You can find the following information in the operating manual:
- How to maintain the infrastructure
- What to do in the case of a system failure
- How and where mobile devices can be interfaced
- Details about CLAAS-specific system configurations
- How new address books can be added
- etc., etc., etc.
Even after project completion, the operating manual will continue to be updated by CLASS. This document forms the foundation for an understandable, maintainable infrastructure including all peripheral components.
Cooperation during the project
CLAAS is an international company with subsidiaries in 17 countries. Therefore, planning and coordination played a significant role. During the planning and coordination phases of the project, it was vital to define and merge the input from the various departments.
CLAAS was a big help in this respect. They appointed a CLASS dedicated, permanent project manager who provided us with a pathway into the company and was always able to direct us to the correct contact.
Thanks to the comprehensive planning, in which all affected locations and departments participated, we could prepare an extensive and detailed project and milestone plan. We hardly deviated from this plan throughout the project – although sometimes a good measure of spontaneity was required.
The combination of CLASS’s organisational strength and our flexibility gave this project a flying start. Both teams worked productively and harmoniously with each other.
All stumbling blocks should normally have been eliminated during the pilot phase, however the interfacing of mobile devices created some concern shortly before the conclusion of this phase. The technical parameters for this area were simply not yet perfect. At one point, it even looked as if we were going to have to prolong the pilot phase, which would have resulted in calling for new consultation sessions with all subsidiaries and IT departments. This organisational effort could have caused a delay of one or even several weeks. This was simply not an option! So, we put all hands on deck in an effort to find a solution as quickly as possible.
Almost in the last second, we were able to complete the necessary adjustments and tests so that the pilot phase could be completed on time and the final phase – the main migration – could begin.
In the course of the project, the importance of motivating and prompting all participants early on to carefully document all technical and functional issues became transparent to us once again.
We came away from the project with a bit more experience that we can put to use in the future. Every project is a step further on the path to perfected project organisation and optimisation of our migration methodology.
c.-MigrationPlaner | Dell Migrator for Notes to Exchange | Dell Coexistence Manager for Notes | Microsoft SQL-Server 2012 Standard