Based in Austria, Solvion is an information management consultancy guiding clients worldwide as they build out their digital workplaces. With solutions designed around Microsoft 365, they emphasise three core pillars: Building intranets to share and publish content; facilitating collaboration with Teams; and enhancing workflows. Their expertise includes implementing voice communications, intranets, and collaboration platforms as well as creating processes, tools, and applications. Solvion also uses AI to build custom chatbots, digital assistants, forms, and automations.
For the past six years Solvion has been working with Brenntag, a global leader in chemical and ingredients distribution. Brenntag provides a full portfolio of specialty and industrial chemicals and ingredients through a global network of more than 640 locations in 77 countries. The company had been supporting autonomous IT departments scattered across multiple countries. It was time for Brenntag’s IT world to be consolidated into a central tenant.
“When we started working with Brenntag, we already had experience with BitTitan, so we naturally recommended MigrationWiz,” said Stefan Hager, Team Lead Consultant at Solvion. “Initially the Brenntag team assumed there would be adequate tools within Microsoft. But we knew they would need something more robust – they were moving from a wide variety of sources with nuanced complexity in each region.”
Many motivations to consolidate
The Brenntag project has turned out to be a multi-phase, multi-dimensional migration. Work had to be done in stages partly due to the geographic distribution of the company, but also to respect the resource limitations of Brenntag’s five-person project team. Source systems varied by region; they included Lotus Notes, on-prem Exchange Servers, existing Microsoft 365 tenants – and a couple surprises.
“We even had a situation where the German on-premises Exchange tenant had originally been established in Singapore,” said Hager. “Each region added new workloads and interesting challenges.”
A variety of source endpoints means a wide array of data, too. Workloads spanned mailboxes across multiple on-prem and cloud systems, files in OneDrive and SharePoint, Teams, even apps like Yammer and Planner – all moving into a Microsoft 365 tenant in Germany. For Hager’s team, the main draw to use MigrationWiz was its speed over first-party options from Microsoft and its versatility in supported scenarios.
“Even though each region has its own unique aspects and every workload is different, using MigrationWiz every time makes it so much easier,” said Hager. “We set everything to be pre-staged; we’re able to take one migration concept and use it in every migration with only minor modifications.”
Staging migrations region-by-region
Solvion kicks off migrations in each region with a series of startup workshops that connect their eight-person team with Brenntag’s project managers and regional IT staff. This is where they walk through the client’s infrastructure and governance tools, then go into detail on the migration process. They also set up a separate Teams site for each location for a centralized place to communicate and access files.
After the workshops, Solvion creates a plan that breaks down all the implementation tasks, some of which are assigned to the regional team. Solvion guides the process and is at the ready for additional support or to work through tricky challenges.
The people side of the equation
While working with Brenntag, Solvion also had to keep in mind that the company was planning to implement a re-organisation of their IT departments as part of the consolidation. Consultants had to be aware of the needs and concerns of the people involved.
“In some regions, for example, there are only small local IT teams responsible for several hundred users and more spread across multiple sites,” said Hager. “They needed additional support when they found out they’d have to be doing a migration on top of all their other responsibilities.”
Progress continues during the pandemic
Since 2019, Solvion has moved 6,000 users and 35TB of data, completing sites in Europe, Asia Pacific, and Turkey.
With the onset of the pandemic, meetings and consultations went online. Since MigrationWiz can be implemented remotely, consolidations have continued despite the challenges of managing from afar. And Brenntag has seen how the combination of Solvion’s expertise and MigrationWiz ensures a fast transition for each region with no downtime of Brenntag employees.
Ultimately, close to 12,000 users will be migrated. Additional European locations are in the works and, with the introduction of new executive leadership to Brenntag in 2020, the project expanded to include North and Latin America tenants in 2021 so all Brenntag employees are unified under a single domain.