Avaelgo is a full-service technology solution and managed services provider based in Romania. A 2018 Microsoft Partner of the Year winner, the company has multiple Gold and Silver competency certifications and has been providing advisory, custom software development, tech support, and training services to its global customer base since 2006.
At the end of 2019, the Romanian subsidiary of a prominent Austrian bank engaged with Avaelgo to help migrate 9,000 users from Google to Microsoft. The goal was to increase collaboration and security by having all divisions of the bank working together using one central Microsoft 365 tenant.
Daniel Popescu, IT Business Strategy Manager at Avaelgo, led efforts to pursue and win this business from a crowded field of partners. Daniel and the team at Avaelgo understood the top priorities for this customer: adherence to data sovereignty and security requirements during the project, as well as a sound adoption strategy for end users. As an experienced services team, Avaelgo knows a migration isn’t just about data. The key to this kind of project is helping users learn about, adopt, and become productive in their new environment. Avaelgo has a strategy for that, and that’s what caught the attention of the bank.
Ask an Ambassador
“We do our migrations in three stages,” said Popescu. “What’s unique about our process is that between the pilot phase and the final migration we have what we call our Ambassador phase. The Ambassadors make an enormous difference in assuring a smooth migration and easy adoption of the new environment.”
After finalizing the project plan, Avaelgo worked with the bank’s in-house IT team to select 650 Ambassadors from various departments. These employees needed to have technical proficiency, but most of all they had to be willing to promote the transition to Microsoft 365, help their fellow employees, and provide feedback as the migration progressed.
Ambassadors participated in early training and migrated ahead of the rest of the users. Then, they were asked to keep an eye out for any issues that came up and help identify processes that needed to be translated from Google to Microsoft. Their experience also helped the Avaelgo team build documentation for the full launch.
“The Ambassadors are at the center of our communication strategy. We give them an email badge that identifies them as a ‘Microsoft 365 Ambassador’ so people know where they can go for help. We also set up a Yammer channel dedicated to questions about the migration,” said Popescu.
Avaelgo kept active communication channels going throughout the migration and beyond. Their plan also included live weekly Teams meetings they called ‘Office Hours’ that could accommodate up to 200 participants. Any interested employees could see demos and bring up challenges they were encountering.
For financial institutions, security comes first
Driving user adoption was just one critical element of this migration. Behind the scenes, ensuring sensitive end user data was secure and adhered to the strict regulations of this customer was a top priority. As a financial institution, there was no room for compromise when it came to protecting customer information.
In this scenario, the ability for MigrationWiz customers to process their migration in the data center of their choice was a key component to maintaining compliance. Using the MigrationWiz instance based Azure Germany, Avaelgo ensured their solution met all security requirements for this institution.
“The bank’s security team tested everything along the way and required documentation. They even mandated an IP lockdown to make sure they could be fully in control,” said Popescu.
As the migration progressed, the team stood up additional instances of MigrationWiz to run in parallel, accelerating overall throughput and ensuring this project was completed on time.
Managing through bumps in the road
Every project, it seems, encounters problems. The key is to have partners and tools that get you through them.
In the midst of this project, Microsoft made a change to authentication processes for OneDrive that threatened to stall progress. Immediately, Popescu consulted with his BitTitan support team.
“This is a really important reason we prefer working with BitTitan,” said Popescu. “After this issue came up, we met with the BitTitan technical team and outlined technical requirements for a solution. Knowing your team, we could reassure the customer that a fix was coming and we wouldn’t lose any time.”
And BitTitan delivered, ultimately rolling out a solution for app-based authentication within five business days to the customer.
BitTitan makes Avaelgo look good
Avaego has used MigrationWiz, along with other migration tools, with other customers, so the choice to partner with BitTitan wasn’t hard. Once they had assessed the bank’s situation and technical requirements, MigrationWiz turned out to be the right fit for moving data, files, and email.
“Our technical people think BitTitan is the best,” said Popescu. “They especially like the documentation. Whenever the customer had a question, we could always refer them to details on the BitTitan website.”
This migration project ran from the end of 2019 to June 2020, meeting internal deadlines despite the pandemic. As a true indicator of success, this customer has engaged with Avaelgo for ongoing services via maintenance and consulting contracts to help them implement and optimize their Microsoft services.