The client (a cinema and cultural media centre based in Bristol) operating off a Microsoft Windows Server 2003-based Active Directory domain wanted to upgrade to Microsoft Windows server 2012 R2 and utilise the new advantages and features that would come with this upgrade. This was also a useful opportunity for the organisation to carry out an internal re-brand.
It was no longer desirable to run Microsoft Windows Server 2003 as it was approaching the end of its supported life and the organisation had to change. Given the nature of the business, there was only one day available day during the year to execute this work- when the staff were out on a training day.
Following a discussion with the team to identify the major components which needed addressing during this project, we identified that an Active Directory domain migration to a new environment would be required in order to fulfill all the project objectives. We then set about performing a detailed system-by-system plan identifying the dependencies for each system- the services which they provided to the staff in the business, and the timing when we would be able to migrate them given the strict time constraints.
After agreeing with the key stakeholders that our planning was accurate, we set about building a new Windows Server 2012 R2 domain across two locations and a migration mechanism to move all systems and login accounts into the new domain. The plan required that all staff would log off at the end of one day and expect to log back on following the migration without the need for IT assistance and without loss of access to any systems. In order to achieve this, (and wherever it was possible) some servers were moved in advance of the migration day. The new domain and migration system was therefore built and thoroughly tested in advance of domain migration day, ready for staff logins and business-critical servers to be migrated.
Following the successful completion of the domain migration, each member of staff logged into their computer and various systems with the same passwords they had always used, accessed their data and carried on their work as normal.
During the migration day we undertook detailed testing on all systems. This allowed the box office staff to immediately start taking sales, and the back-office staff to access all the systems they required in a way they were familiar with. This meant that a minimal number of support calls were raised at the IT service desk.
The team then proceeded to complete post-migration checks to ensure that all systems were performing as normal and any antivirus and security systems were able to continue to update with backups running overnight.
“When we first decided to get some outside help with our domain migration, we were a little concerned that a large IT support company would only want to do things one way, and not be flexible enough to accommodate our somewhat esoteric onsite set-up.
How wrong we were! Their methodology for ascertaining client needs is rigid, but that’s a good thing. It meant they fully understood what we needed and wanted, as well as being able to make recommendations to enhance our set-up.
During the domain migration, a previous configuration mistake on our part looked like it would take around a week to put right, which presented a major barrier to completing the project on time. Our Signal Networks IT Engineer, pulled in knowledge from the rest of the company and worked flat out to find a workaround that let us reconfigure things in a day instead, saving us from the enormous headache that would have ensued from missing the deadline.
I was taken aback by just how dedicated Signal Networks were to our project succeeding, despite it being a one-off job rather than an ongoing support contract. The calmness and professionalism we received helped set exactly the right tone in the office to get the job done”.