Ever wonder what the IT team for a large global law practice deals with daily? Well, for this one, it meant managing hundreds of servers, thousands of email boxes, and terabytes and terabytes of data not to mention keeping more than a thousand demanding global users—high-priced, top-notch litigators and the staff that comes along with them—productive and connected. It was no surprise, then, when the global IT manager decided to offload the complex infrastructure and explore an Azure migration.
“It was time,” said MicroAge’s Chris Pirwitz. “This client had such a large infrastructure footprint; the team was stretched thin just trying to keep up with the ongoing maintenance and managing the levels of complexity. A look at the cloud made sense.”
Why Choose MicroAge Cloud Services for an Azure Migration?
When their current hardware was becoming dated, the IT manager reached out to Chris. The firm had been a MicroAge client for years, but that had been for servers, storage, and software, not services.
“He knew MicroAge had grown our services practice, but he didn’t have any experience with our capabilities in the service and migration space,” said Chris. “I assured him that, as a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP), we had exactly the resources and experience he would need to take on a migration to Azure.”
Chris brought in Rick Trujillo, MicroAge’s director of cloud business and connected workforce pre-sales to continue the discussion. Coincidently Rick was this client’s long-time account executive and trusted adviser before being promoted to a leadership role, providing an immediate comfort level for the global IT manager in considering MicroAge Cloud Services.
“This legal firm had historically bought millions of dollars’ worth of hardware,” said Rick. “The cloud was a whole different way of existing for them. They wanted to make sure they understood the Azure environment and properly vetted the partner they would ultimately choose to design and implement the migration project.”
The next step was introducing the client to MicroAge Vice President of Services and Connected Workforce Kyle Yencer for an in-depth conversation about MicroAge’s expertise as a managed service provider (MSP) and the law firm’s needs.
“He was understandably wary,” said Kyle. “This was going to be a huge project and involve his worldwide infrastructure. His users—highly paid, ambitious lawyers—are intense and demanding, so he needed to scrutinize us to make sure we were up to the challenge.”
The IT manager was interviewing other service providers in addition to MicroAge, including several in the legal vertical.
Kyle brought in his team of engineers and project managers for numerous calls and planning sessions. And, after putting the team through the paces, the IT manager selected MicroAge Cloud Services for the project.
“Being selected over MSPs dedicated exclusively to the legal field indicates the breadth and depth of knowledge and expertise we’ve built and continue to grow,” shared Chris.
What’s Involved in an Azure Migration?
Discovery work was next. For three or four months, the engineering team at MicroAge met with the IT manager and his team at least twice a week to plan the migration.
“We had to review everything they had,” said Kyle. “It’s a process of understanding what is dependent on what, so you can create a chronological order for batching data together to migrate it to the cloud. It took a few months—what this IT manager was dealing with was nothing short of a management nightmare.”
“Migrating to Azure frees up this IT manager’s resources so that he can better support the company, rather than supporting all of the components that support the company,” Kyle added. “There is no benefit, for example, for anyone in IT at this law firm to be an expert on VMware; that adds no value to their business. If you remove the need for the expertise and management of that, you free up resources to focus on technologies that do relate to the business and make those better.”
MicroAge Cloud Engineer David Mejak, the lead project engineer, recommended using Azure SQL to simplify their environment further.
“That way,” said Kyle, “Rather than having the server, and the SQL server software on top of that, MicroAge eliminated the server and the SQL server software—pointing it at the Azure SQL instance. With the data there, the client doesn’t have to worry about the uptime or about building a highly available, resilient solution or about patching the database servers either.”
“All of these benefits increase operational efficiencies, enabling them to better support their customers—their end-users—versus supporting the infrastructure and the customers.”
Migrating the firm’s Exchange server to Exchange Online was another big piece of this project. With thousands of very large email inboxes on more than a dozen on-premise Exchange servers, this client had a considerable email management footprint and severe vulnerability.
“By getting all of that moved up to M365, they’re alleviating themselves of the ongoing patching and security concerns associated with on-prem Exchange,” said Kyle. “Exchange Online is a vastly more protected architecture. Microsoft has 4,000 security engineers working to defend against all types of intrusion attempts. That’s a massive infantry managing the Azure/M365/Exchange infrastructure.”
“In addition to learning how an Azure migration would play out,” added Rick, “The IT manager needed to understand Azure’s model for data center locations. We had to look at the solution globally, making sure everything was geolocated properly to solve latency issues.”
After devising the project plan, the job of seeding began. The company’s massive amount of data had to be copied to the cloud, in the background, without interrupting the users’ regular work and production needs.
[Related blog]: Azure Active Directory Domain Services—What It Is and Why You Need It
“Once we had everything seeded in the cloud and located where we wanted it, said Kyle, “We began the process of relocating everything to the cloud, validating it, and then turning it back over to the users for production access.”
Just like everything else about this project, that was no small task. The process involved dividing users into groups or subsets based on how users worked, who they worked with, and what tools and files they needed. Their plan involved scheduling as-short-as-possible maintenance windows for each subset’s users, timing them to minimize disruption. MicroAge worked with the client to notify users of maintenance times and what to expect.
The Benefits of an Azure Migration.
“The project has increased in scope because seeing the benefits of leveraging the Azure platform resources has opened their eyes to leveraging it more and more,” said Kyle. “Things like offloading the management of SQL servers and leveraging Azure SQL … it’s one less thing for them to manage, and the less to manage, the better. Best of all, the MicroAge team has migrated this client with little to no impact to the business—that’s a big win right there.”
“They’re satisfied,” said Chris, “They’ve learned quite a bit from the MicroAge Cloud Services team and our deep bench of services engineers. They see that the project is working and that they made the right decision. Once fully completed, this client should greatly reduce the amount of time their personnel spends managing infrastructure. They see the value in that.”
Tired of maintaining your own hardware? Let’s talk.
Find out how MicroAge Cloud Services’ Azure migration team can take the pain out of managing your infrastructure and send it to the cloud, allowing you to focus on your business. Call us at 800-544-8877.