The IT migration from hell

Clashing company cultures and plain old poor management doom a system integration almost before it begins

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Tornado touchdown: Migration day

The night of Oct. 24 arrived. The migration team told IT support this would be a piece of cake and we'd be home by midnight. They were very wrong. Because of the inventory problems, we spent the entire evening on into the morning just tracking down user PCs and turning them on.

We hadn't made much headway on the actual migration when at 5 a.m. we were surprised to find moving crews from Facilities arrive, start packing up user equipment, and moving it to new cubes and offices. In addition, we soon discovered that the networking team had deactivated unused network jacks.

People arrived for work and found a variety of scenarios -- all of them bad. Either their PC equipment needed to be hooked up, they couldn't connect to the network because the jack in their office was inactive, they couldn't log in to their PC because it was on the wrong domain, or they could log in but their email didn't work because the mailbox migration errored out.

When it rains, it pours

Angry people contacted the help desk. But when a ticket was generated, it was for their old location, so no one knew where to find most users. You couldn't call them because their phone extensions hadn't been moved yet and their BlackBerry was not listed in the new address book for the new domain.

Only the network team could enable network jacks, and their new manager wouldn't do anything without a ticket to document the request. When they actually got a ticket for a user, it often listed the old location, and since that jack was already active, they would close the ticket without doing anything.

If a user's PC was on the wrong domain, it had to be manually migrated to the new one and placed in the proper organizational unit for the specific department -- accomplished through guesswork at best. That part would be automatic, we'd been told, so no need to have documentation at the ready. People ended up with all of the wrong group policies.

For email, we had to manually set their Outlook profile to the old mailbox and migrate them again. If that didn't work, we could pass it along to the migration team to handle it through a longer process -- when they got around to it.

This was how things went for a full week. Eventually, most of the people in the office were able to work again. Some members of the support team were on the clock for 36-plus hours, only to come back and do another multiday shift. The overtime payout was enormous, the lost productivity was incalculable, and everyone pointed fingers at everyone else.

However, at the end of the week John was overheard saying to his team, "All right! Another successful migration. You guys rock!"

He was not so smug after a contentious meeting with our old company's CIO, who also passed documentation and complaints up to the new company's execs. They must have listened because the next migration for the branch offices was done in phases, and people actually communicated.

And John? He left soon afterward to "pursue his dreams."

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