Ask the Experts: How Do I Plan a Customer Data Migration Strategy?

Welcome to Ask the Experts, brought to you by In this video, Intelisys’ SVP Cloud Transformation Andrew Pryfogle discusses planning a robust data migration strategy for your customers with RapidScale’s William Hiatt. Learn more about cloud solutions from the RapidScale team here:

Andrew: Okay guys, our next Ask The Experts session. We’ve been talking a lot about data migration with cloud delivery models and how you kind of get from here to there. Really important conversations around this, so this translates into a great customer experience for your client. I welcome again to the session, William Hiatt, CTO of RapidScale, one of the smartest guys I know in this space. William, thanks for carving out some time, my friend.
William: Hey, Andrew. I appreciate it.
Andrew: All right, very cool. William, you guys at RapidScale play a lot in the Desktop-as-a-Service and virtual desktop arenas. And I know that you know first-hand how a data migration that is poorly planned, how that can blow up a customer experience. And you guys have invested a lot of money and energy around developing a really robust data migration strategy for your clients. I wanted you to talk about that real quick because that’s such an important part of the overall customer experience. How’s data migration working for RapidScale?
William: Andrew, that’s a real great point. If you go back to the days when we started the company, we were really one of the first players in the space, especially within the channel. We’re not focused on the data migration aspect as much, it’s more of a pure cloud play. What we’ve learned over the last–what we’ve really focused on I guess, is a better way to say it–in 2014, is we looked at where we’re being successful in what we were doing. What we found was it wasn’t just, “Hey, go spin up some servers and have the customer go do everything themselves.” It was when we got engaged with the customer and we held their hand from the design and architecture to the deployment, and we walked them through every step of the process.
We already had a professional services team. A lot of them were internal facing. We doubled down and reinvested in that team and expanded that team dramatically in 2014. And that’s our service delivery organization now. It’s been real successful. Real proud of the success.
What we’re finding is, in talking to my peers around the industry–from either the channel side or the provider side–everyone struggles with that data migration. We really focus on building up the bench because it’s not just spin up some servers and there you go. It’s, we have to spin up the infrastructure and the servers. Again, customers can do that themselves through our portals, it’s all web based. It’s also Oracle, SQL, SharePoint, Exchange, custom in-house applications. We really built and leveraged the expertise from our bench that’s come out of large organizations. Fortune 1000, companies and logos you’ve all heard of.
And leverage of that knowledge of not just being very wide but being very deep inside those individual technologies. I’ll give you an example. We have a customer–I think I used it previously–a worldwide manufacturer. They manufacture all over the globe. So any product you’ve ever bought that’s a Proctor and Gamble classic product–this company makes those products. The challenge of that environment is when you run in China, the Americas, which includes Brazil, run in South America, and Europe, you’re always running. Somebody is always running production. They’ve been a long-time customer and we had an Oracle ERP system that they were running in-house that was the last system that got migrated over to RapidScale. It was our Dallas data center, actually.
They have a four hour maintenance window every year that they get around the globe. It’s how all the clocks synchronize. Four hours, they do a worldwide shutdown. It’s actually for days but when you compete all the time zones it’s like a four hour real working time for the US.
What we had to do was we had to go migrate the ERP application, change how it was delivered to almost a thousand users all over the world, literally within that four hour window. We actually went through and because of our professional services team we ended up doing that in thirty minutes and the only outage we had was for the ERP application.
It’s examples like that that we like to give to our customers. We understand the apps. We’re not just a bunch of cloud infrastructure guys that say, “Hey, we don’t care what you’re doing.” We understand, we get in solution sale with our customers and prospects, we understand our applications, what are they doing, and we have the capabilities to deliver against the complexity.
Whereas a lot of our competitors, we’ve been finding, don’t necessarily have that bench strike in-house. We’ve built that up in-house and we’re seeing other providers even come to us now, that are looking to potentially outsource their migrations to RapidScale as well. Definitely a lot of exciting things happening.
Andrew: I love that example. That’s a really complex one. You guys got it done in a half hour, which is phenomenal, but I would expect that there was a tremendous amount of planning and thoughtful consideration of how that was going to happen long before you flipped the switch on that migration. Am I right?
William: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it was multi-terabytes of data. We pre-staged everything. We had go/no go testing and that’s where our service delivery organization has really stepped it up. And we doubled down and invested in that across 2014 and we’re seeing a lot of the fruits of our labors now. Again, the people we have running that order come from Fortune 1000, logos you’ve all seen and really defined on the process side. The process of how do we plan that migration, getting in front of it, getting in front of the customer and holding not only ourselves accountable but a lot of times you’re depending on the customer for information. Holding the customer accountable as well, to make sure we’re meeting and tracking those deadlines and having a successful project for the entire group.
Andrew: That’s a great example and I appreciate you diving in to answer this question. I think the really important point I’ve been driving home, William, about data migration is plan it very carefully on the front end. Do the really detailed inventory. Frankly, clean up a lot of the mess you already have in your premises-based architecture before trying to migrate to the cloud. Making sure that this is a clean migration speaks right to the heart of customer experience which is so important to our partner community, and I know it is to you guys as well. So, great insight. I know it’s a strength of yours, and I appreciate you jumping in my friend.
William: Great. Andrew, I appreciate the time.
Andrew: All right, good deal. Guys, that’s William Hiatt. He’s the CTO of RapidScale, one of the esteemed faculty members here at the Cloud Services University. Make sure you check out RapidScale’s learning center here at the University. It has great information and stuff that you can watch, and learn, and download, and study. Get smarter about how to sell these types of services. And when it comes to data migration, make sure you’re partnered with a company that really understands how to do this. RapidScale is a great example of that. Check them out, we’re winning big with them and you can too. Good selling.