Case Study: North Texas Contracting, Inc.
Case Study: North Texas Contracting, Inc.
Client: North Texas Contracting, Inc.
Number of Employees: 127
Challenge: North Texas Contracting, Inc. was using Small Business Server 2011 for all of its employee emailing and scheduling. That program no longer met its needs, so NTC needed help migrating to a program that would improve reliability while at the same time reduce downtime and maintenance needs.
Solution: Office 365 Migration
About North Texas Contracting, Inc.
Since 1990, North Texas Contracting, Inc. has provided self-performing construction work in the areas of underground utilities, turnkey concrete and civil general contracting. It serves a variety of markets, including municipal, state, federal, railroad, airport and educational entities as well as the private sector.
Over its nearly 30 years of service, NTC has emerged as one of the most dependable and trustworthy contractors in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and now has grown to 127 employees. The size of its completed projects have ranged from $10,000 to $18 million, and it is poised to reach the $1 billion milestone. It needed an IT solution that was prepared to grow along with NTC in the future.
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Business Needs and Challenges
NTC began using Microsoft Small Business Server in 2011 for employee emailing and scheduling. Although the program initially met NTC’s needs, the company has grown and its requirements have become more complex over time. Additionally, their existing platform — which had been introduced in 2010 — was nearing the 10-year mark, which meant it was out of date in terms of features and nearing its end of support, which is scheduled for termination on January 14, 2020.
That meant security patches and updates would no longer be available, leaving the system vulnerable to security breaches and other threats.
Even without the end of support, NTC faced other challenges with SBS; it had minimal backup capabilities and lacked security updates, which created a constant source of concern. The company was having trouble maintaining its physical servers and began to look at the cloud as a viable alternative.
Office 365 appealed to NTC for a number of reasons, beginning with its ability to address inconsistent email performance and provide the type of security a company needs — particularly when dealing with large government, military and medical facilities. But other features made a migration to Office 365 enticing as well.
By migrating to Office 365, North Texas Contracting, Inc. could replace its existing, hard-to-maintain file server with reliable cloud options. Improved server capabilities would also mean reduced email downtime, improved anytime/anywhere access to files and information and a more consistent user experience.
However, as appealing as Office 365’s options appeared, NTC faced migration challenges, as it had only a one-person IT department and did not have the manpower or experience needed to execute a large-scale, seamless migration.
That’s where Aventis Systems stepped in and helped implement a five-part migration process.
“By working with Aventis Systems, our technical staff can now focus on their day-to-day activities and no longer focus on updating code or managing and monitoring our network.”
— Daniel Chamero, IT Administrator
at North Texas Contracting, Inc.
Aventis Systems was able to bring its process to NTC to help make the migration as simple as possible. To do this, Aventis Systems implemented the following five steps:
Phase I: Discovery
The Discovery Phase is essential in determining what data needs to be migrated and deciding where the content will live. During Discovery, it’s common to find outdated data that doesn’t need to be moved to the cloud and can either be archived or can be removed entirely.
This phase also involves running a discovery scan on the existing email platforms and reviewing Office plug-ins to ensure compatibility. All third-party applications and network devices that were used for emailing through existing email servers were reviewed, then an up-to-date list of mailboxes was generated to determine which accounts should be migrated and which were no longer required.
Because this work was able to be done behind the scenes over a period of a couple of weeks, it happened without any interference or interruption to NTC’s regular processes.
As a final part of this phase, all shared mailboxes were identified and an access control list for shared mailboxes was developed.
Phase II: Migration Preparation
Preparing for migration began with creating and configuring the Microsoft Office 365 domain for NTC. Once that was completed, Aventis Systems was able to create shared mailbox accounts, convert existing distribution lists to the new domain and verify existing active directory accounts.
After creating shared mailboxes, syncing mailboxes and carefully reviewing the sync for errors, Aventis Systems then assigned Office 365 licenses to all users, designated shared mailbox licenses for non-user mailboxes and documented the current spam filtering rules.
Phase III: Office Upgrade
With the migration preparation completed, NTC was ready for its upgrade of Office 365. This included reinstalling all Office plug-ins, deploying Office 2016 on the terminal server using shared licensing and configuring the Office upgrade scripts.
Phase IV: Cutover
Aventis Systems determined that a cutover migration was the best option for NTC, as it would migrate all mailboxes at the same time. To deploy the cutover, the spam filter was edited so it would direct all email to Office 365, and the Active Directory password synchronization was verified. Next, the cutover for inbound and outbound email was verified and a final data sync for mailboxes was conducted.
Once that was completed, all of the new Outlook profiles were verified on the desktop computers, and employees were provided with instructions for reconfiguring their mobile devices to be compatible with the new system.
Phase V: Post-Migration Follow-Up
One day after the migration was complete, Aventis Systems met with the systems engineer to follow up and address any additional questions. The client was trained on the point of contact and then, with the migration complete, the old Small Business Server 2011 was decommissioned and the active directory was cleaned up.
The switch took place over one weekend so that it did not interfere with operations, and then, over the next week or two, Aventis Systems addressed any issues, such as individual errors that occurred with mailboxes, tweaking certain mail groups and making manual adjustments for users who had not run the migration tool.
Because Aventis Systems was on hand to make adjustments during the implementation, any problems that arose were addressed and resolved immediately so that the NTC team didn’t have to spend hours troubleshooting or looking for the causes and solutions.
After completing the migration to Office 365, North Texas Contracting, Inc. immediately began enjoying greater access to all of the hosted services provided by the cloud-based platform. Employees are now able to access all of their information from any device at any time — with the added bonus of zero downtime.
The company also increased its security, warding off concerns about data breaches and cyber-attacks. That means the company’s networks, emails and sensitive documents are all secure, and they have constant online SPAM and malware protection to ensure that such security continues. All of this also adds up to a reduced need for tech support, since there’s very little technology maintenance required and there’s no server hardware onsite that has to be monitored.
In addition to the many technological benefits, NTC employees now enjoy increased collaboration options, while overall the company benefits from a lower total cost of ownership.