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With organizations’ interest in cloud-based computing reaching new heights, the focus of work has shifted to migrating entire enterprise platforms. By early 2012, Accenture moved more than 250,000 mailboxes and nearly 11,300 shared-services sites to the cloud, the largest such migration undertaken to date. To achieve this, Accenture needed strong project management skills and the creation of at-scale migration tools and processes, as well as overcoming technology integration challenges between cloud and on-premise environments.
Accenture expects to earn back its required investment in just one year, and is likely to continue saving over US$10 million per year. This large-scale implementation experience reveals critical lessons for the effective management of enterprise-scale cloud migrations for other organizations with a similarly progressive outlook.
E-mail is now so ubiquitous that business users take it for granted. Internal customers expect 100 percent uptime, but upgrades every few years can cause delays or mistakes and cost organizations millions of dollars. As if this were not enough, basic tools including e-mail and shared sites – virtual internal workspaces used by project teams for posting and sharing of content – have matured to the point where they are now viewed as commodities rather than differentiating applications. Cloud-based capabilities offered by leading cloud providers can lead to superior performance and functionality at a much lower price for global enterprises. Accenture evaluated the risks of handing over critical communications and collaboration capabilities to a third party, and decided that a leading cloud provider could offer improved efficiencies and business benefits that far outweighed potential risks.
Accenture’s internal IT organization believed the benefits of cloud-based enterprise e-mail justified the risks and once the due diligence was completed in mid-2010, started evaluating providers until they found the best combination of capabilities and service for Accenture.
The team was impressed by the enhanced capabilities available in cloud-based offerings:
Large mailbox sizes of five gigabytes compared to Accenture’s 250-megabyte limit for most users
Existing security safeguards and procedures equal to or better than Accenture’s own security procedures
A stable and predictable financial model
This would be the largest communications migration ever done, given Accenture’s 250,000-plus knowledge workers and staggering data volumes. The migration of the shared sites alone involved more than 40 terabytes of data that had to be synchronized while in motion, and the Accenture team understood the importance of maintaining a smooth integration of all services during this transition.
By early 2012, the bulk of Accenture’s e-mail platform and shared-services had been successfully moved over to the cloud, with limited disruptions.
Accenture expects to save US$10 million per year from the migration of these capabilities to the cloud. Accenture signed a multi-year contract with its provider, and fully intends to revisit competitive offerings going forward.
A methodical, phased migration path with clear criteria for progress was used and the following lessons were learned:
Set clear distinctions between what moves to the cloud and what remains on your infrastructure
Strong project management skills are required to identify and manage issues and risks, which will increase your migration cost and derail schedules
Identifying technology interdependencies is vital to support a smooth migration and stable service for end users
Consider a gain-sharing model, solid service-level agreements and shared incentives if your enterprise is looking at a major migration
Perform a rigorous business-risk analysis and negotiate required service levels and protection
Think ahead and make provisions for future transitions
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