SANITIZED AG: Clean migration to collaboration with Office 365
When Erich Jau talks about the «Exchange Online / Office 365» project, this migration sounds like child's play. A prerequisite was the careful preparation and implementation with the support of ITpoint. The bonus: The useful collaboration tools from Microsoft.
The Swiss SME SANITIZED AG is the world's leading company for hygiene function and material protection for textiles and plastics. SANITIZED AG has been doing pioneering work since 1935, developing innovative, effective and safe technologies for antimicrobial equipment. Around 50 employees work at the headquarters in Burgdorf, plus representatives in the sister companies in the USA, China and India.
Standard tools such as mail and office applications must simply work in such a highly specialized company without tying up a lot of attention and money for licenses. As a result, companies have often not always purchased every new version of the Microsoft Office Suite and Exchange Server, becuase the 'old' software generation still fulfilled the requirements without complaint. This was also the case for SANITIZED AG, which used Microsoft Office 2010 until 2019. But now this old software had to be replaced, not least for security reasons.
The challenge: uninterrupted and efficient migration
- The leap from the locally operated Exchange Server and Office 2010 to the current Office 365 suite is great, but also offers many opportunities.
- Historical «proliferation» of users and mailboxes must be cleaned up, because this can save licensing costs.
- The Exchange Server is to be newly hosted in the Microsoft Cloud and the employees are to be able to use the modern collaboration tools without the risk that business critical data is stored decentrally in the Cloud and new Office 365 tools can be used in an uncoordinated manner
- In addition, the transition from the old system to the new must be well prepared so that the important interfaces to the surrounding systems such as CRM, ERP, etc. continue to function smoothly.
- During the effective changeover, the users on their clients should only be affected by the shortest possible work interruption.
- All in all, despite the standard software, this was a demanding software migration project that Erich Jau, the IT manager at SANITIZED AG, did not want to carry out alone in addition to all his other tasks.
The goal was clear: The Exchange server was to be operated in the Microsoft Cloud environment and the workstations were to be equipped with Office 365 Pro Plus and its modern collaboration tools such as «Teams».
But how do you manage this transition without interrupting work and without giving up central control over IT? Erich Jau called in the long-standing IT partner ITpoint Systems AG for this purpose. The Berne-based team at ITpoint has been supporting SANITIZED AG in the IT area for many years and is very familiar with the IT environment and all its interfaces to the surrounding systems.
Step 1: the preparation
For this Exchange/Office 365 migration, an Office 365 specialist from ITpoint's headquarters in Rotkreuz joined the Berne project team. The first task was to analyse the actual situation, to create a migration concept and to configure tools for an error-free, preferably automated changeover. Together, Erich Jau and ITpoint examined the current situation and defined the goals, details and procedure of the transition in detail:
- Which user mailboxes are still needed? Which impersonal «collective mailboxes» can be eliminated in terms of licensing and continued as free mailboxes?
- Add-ins in ERP/CRM systems and other peripheral systems such as printers and scan-to-mail
- Office templates to be migrated for letters, minutes, presentations etc.
- Where is the business data stored and how do the decentralized employees access it?
- Which tools from the broad Office 365 offering should be activated for all employees from the very beginning? With what guidelines for use?
Step 2: the Exchange Migration
With this clear plan in their hands, they set to work. In a first step, ITpoint moved Microsoft Exchange from the local server at SANITIZED AG to the Microsoft Cloud, also all data that was older than 30 days. Without disturbing the operation of course! ITpoint used the professional MigrationWiz from BitTitan for this purpose.
Then came the big cut: cutover on a Friday evening, «Outlook compulsory break» for all employees. ITpoint's system engineer synchronized the remaining recent data from Exchange on premise to Exchange Online and flipped the switch. From now on, all mails ran via Exchange Online. So far, so good. ITpoint had prepared an Exchange configuration file for BitTitan Deployment Pro to customize the mailbox connection on the local workstations. When Outlook was started for the first time, users only had to enter their mail address and existing password - that's it.
Step 3: upgrade to Office 365, introduction of Microsoft Teams
Now the first selected test users have received the upgrade to Office 365 Pro Plus from SANITIZED AG. Their feedback provided information about the adjustments that had to be made at critical points such as interfaces to the surrounding systems, file storage and printer connections, etc. With this information, ITpoint created the upgrade configuration file for Office 365. With this tool, the time that Erich Jau had to invest for the installation per client was reduced to only about 15 minutes. He did the upgrade of the clients on a weekend by himself, alone. «For most clients, it was really highly automated. Of course, there were some clients with a 'messed up' starting position, where I had to clean up manually first. But I was happy to take this opportunity to do some clean-up work,» comments Erich Jau dryly. The international employees received the upgrade on the occasion of a long planned sales meeting at the Burgdorf headquarters.
Especially the cooperation with international employees has become much easier with «Microsoft Teams». They use the collaboration functions for meetings and video conferences with screen sharing, chat, recording or even the discussion channels gladly and often. SANITIZED AG is still internationally on site, but has moved closer together with regard to internal cooperation thanks to Microsoft Teams.
It is particularly important for IT manager Erich Jau that he can maintain central control over the tools used via Office 365 administration and provide users with clear guidelines on how to use the applications in the company. He also appreciates the fact that all content in Microsoft teams is automatically encrypted and secured to high standards. Understandable for the internationally active company that has to comply with regulations of the health care industry. Erich Jau names further advantages of the Office 365 solution on Exchange Online:
- Microsoft takes care of the operation and maintenance of the Exchange server - a relief for SANITIZED AG
- SANITIZED AG keeps the tool strategy under control. The central office administration allows the targeted activation of individual applications such as the Planner for individual persons - full control of who is allowed to use which tools.
- SANITIZED AG keeps the data and documents on its own storage systems. This is an important point, because the secret recipes and production processes of the world's leading brand SANITIZED AG must not fall into the hands of outsiders. The international employees continue to access the data stored in Burgdorf via Citrix. Sharepoint and OneDrive are not yet activated: «We want to know exactly where our business-critical data is and be able to determine where it is ourselves. Storage in a secure Swiss cloud may become an option, but we will examine it step by step and decide what makes most sense.»
- With Office 365 the office applications always remain up to date and the costs can be planned. The modern collaboration tools are included in the same usage fee, there are no additional license costs for video conferencing, screen sharing or chat systems.
Erich Jau describes this Office 365 project as a complete success. «ITpoint prepared this migration very well and therefore the changeover went well. I know that this cannot be taken for granted, I have already experienced many other things in IT. On the other hand, I can always rely on the ITpoint team - for decades now.»
About SANITIZED AG
SANITIZED AG is the world's leading Swiss company for hygiene function and material protection for textiles and plastics, as well as for color preservation. For over 80 years, the company has been pioneering, developing innovative, effective and safe technologies for antimicrobial equipment.
- Founded in 1935
- Company majority owned by the founding families Lüthi (CH) and Klein (USA)
- Headquarters Burgdorf/ Switzerland
- Sister companies in France, USA and China
- 50 employees
- Worldwide network for distribution, production support and quality control
- Market leader in Europe
- The Sanitized® brand is registered in over 100 countries worldwide
- CEO: Urs Stalder
- Chairman of the Board of Directors: Niklaus J. Lüthi (Member of the founding family)