by Dan Newton
Mergers and acquisitions are a part of every business sector. As companies grow and change, ownership is bound to change hands and organizations will continue to find themselves struggling to integrate not only people and company values but also a litany of technologies and processes. From an IT perspective, mergers are, at best, a complex and difficult task. At worst, they are a source of profit loss and frustration. iVision has helped many clients to merge Microsoft Active Directory and Exchange environments. These projects range from simply copying 100s of users into an existing Active Directory/Exchange Forest to migrating 1000s of users, computers, mailboxes, and member servers to a new AD forest. As with any complex task, the more detailed information that is available, the better controlled and predictable the outcome can be.
Asset Management during Mergers and Acquisitions
Proper asset management can save a huge amount of upfront effort (and money) during the planning phase of a migration effort. Before you can begin combining users and equipment, you have to first understand what exactly it is that you’re migrating. This pre-migration phase can be broken down into two key developmental segments: Understanding the environments you’re migrating (Who, What, and Where) and planning and scheduling the migration itself.
- Understand the Who, What, and Where
During mergers and acquisitions, it’s important that you disrupt employees and productivity as little as possible. The first step in ensuring a seamless migration is compiling asset management information. Common practice is to migrate a user object and the computer together so that the user experience is seamless from the previous domain to the new (target) domain. Knowing which employee or employees are using a given workstation will be vital to know when it is time to migrate that employee or set of employees.
People management in itself can be tricky, but there are two avenues you need to leverage to get a complete picture of the users you will be migrating to your new domain. Work with HR to get a full list of active employees and collate that data with Active Directory users.
Once you know WHO you’re migrating, you need to define the systems and devices they’re leveraging. Systems like Dell Kace (now Quest), Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, or Altiris can provide valuable information on the computers within the environment and who is using each device. Logon scripts can provide a basic set of data as well. A script can simply update a database or text file with the computer name, IP address, and user name.
Finally, you need to understand where your users are located within the office and networks. Your network team should be able to provide a full list of known networks/subnets and the subnet locations to assign computers to a location.
When these data sets are combined, you should have an overall picture of who (users), what (computers), and where (office location). This effort generally takes weeks to complete. Whatever method is used to gather it, this asset data is a prerequisite before you can start planning and scheduling your migration.
- Planning and Scheduling
During early discussions, CIOs should account the type of asset management the organizations have in place, how accurate the data is, and how easily reports can be generated. Without quality asset and HR data, the migration plan will need to include a month or two of data gathering before implementation can begin. Once you’ve established your asset data, you can precisely define when key actions will take place and estimate the overall timeline of the project. When dealing with mergers and acquisitions, it’s important to keep business running as close to normal as possible. Planning firm deadlines and then hitting key milestones is essential. Every week counts, so any opportunity to reduce the timeline should be considered.
Without a comprehensive understanding of where your data is at the onset of any merger or acquisition, it will be difficult to estimate the timeline for the project, ultimately wasting valuable time and financial resources. When choosing a vendor for a large or even small-scale integration, it’s crucial to find a partner with experience in mergers and acquisitions. To learn more about how iVision successfully navigates the intricacies of mergers and acquisitions, check out this case study.