Coca-Cola Amatil told the company's technology services manager Steven Meek that he wanted the company to migrate the company's internal email system from Lotus Notes to Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS) in just two weeks.
"I said no, we couldn't do it but we were close to that," Meek told attendees at a session at Microsoft's Tech.Ed 2010 conference yesterday.
The Australian company that bottles and distributes drinks such as Coke, Mount Franklins Water and Jim Beam bourbon across the Asia Pacific region employs around 15,150 people. Of those employees, the company had 8879 email inboxes, 69 Lotus servers and 695 BlackBerry devices that all had to be moved from the company's own hosted Lotus Notes to Microsoft's BPOS managed online service.
The move came after Microsoft talked to the company for around three years about online service offerings. Meek said it made "commercial sense" for the company to get out of "the business of running email" hosted locally and move to a cloud-based service.
The deployment began in May 2010. A team of four based in India moved employees across during the night, three times a week. Employees had to leave their computers on overnight, and wipe their BlackBerrys to move onto the new server.
The company had four people in the IT Helpdesk team working on the project, and "floor walkers" wandering around each of the company's offices explaining the transition to employees.
The IT team, "Change Champions" and the executive team were the first in the company to be moved over. Meek said that moving the executive team allowed him to "use their position or authority to sell this change across the business".
It hasn't been completely smooth sailing for the transition. Meek said the decision to move all the email history in order to minimise the disruption for employees created additional challenges.
"There was significant effort in reconciling Lotus Notes," he said, explaining that in some instances, employees found they were getting someone else's email.
He also said that in the course of the transition, the team had accidentally migrated the mailboxes of people who had left the company three years ago. "Get a good handle on what users are active and what are not," he said.
To date, Meek said the company has moved almost two-thirds of its employees to the new system; a total of 4143 employees, 670GB of email data, 5,453,068 email and calendar entries, and 240,000 contacts. He said that there have been no performance complaints, except for minor lag in sending email internally through the cloud that hadn't existed in Lotus Notes, as it was hosted locally.
"When moving from on-premise, take a balanced view of what BPOS delivers," Meek said. "We are happy to live with some of the pain points from day one because we're confident the [future features of BPOS] will get us there."
Meek denied that the move to a managed online email service was designed to cut jobs at the bottling company.
"We had already moved our Lotus Notes messaging management from internal to offshore," he said. "It was less about losing heads internally, more about adjusting cost base."
Josh Taylor travelled to Tech.Ed as a guest of Microsoft.