A tale of two cloud migrations – Hot Tech Online

A tale of two cloud migrations


Moving an organization to the cloud brings with it
challenges for both established companies and startups. To compare the
experiences, I spoke with Chris Olson, Vice President of Digital Business at SEGA, the games developer, who moved one of
their business units to the Huddle collaboration platform and Jonathan Lewis,
Head of IT for Harmon.ie, an Israeli-based
startup technology firm who moved the entire company to Microsoft Office 365.
Why move to the cloud?

For one of SEGA’s business units, the move to the cloud was
not originally planned. Olson said that his business unit didn’t set out to use
the cloud initially, although they came to see some advantages of doing so in
terms of application functionality and costs. They found Huddle to fit their bill of an easy to use
cloud platform for sharing and collaboration.

“There are some groups in the organization that are using
[on-premise] SharePoint,” says Olson. “I found it to be rather unwieldy for our
purposes.”  They also looked at Yammer,
but Olson cooled on the idea around the time Microsoft acquired them.

For Harmon.ie, the move was on a big scale. Yaacov Cohen,
CEO of Harmon.ie, believes in “sip your own champagne” according to Lewis so the distributed company, made their move to the cloud.  The company was facing the support of a complex server
infrastructure that was growing more difficult and manpower intensive by the

“We had some issues with centralized infrastructure because
most of the team we communicate with are distributed,” according to Harmon.ie’s

Steps to the cloud

Both Harmon.ie and SEGA took similar approaches to moving
their users to the cloud. Olson put some test users from his team onto Huddle,
and their feedback was positive. He later rolled it out to his whole team. Now,
some other business groups inside SEGA are using Huddle as well.

The organic approach to Huddle for SEGA may very well have
been successful because the company is already using Amazon EC2 for some of
their gaming infrastructure.

Lewis says Harmon.ie took similar steps, including making
the case to move to Office 365 with an analysis of the potential cost savings
from moving their SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync infrastructure to the cloud. Then
Harmon.ie set up a demo account for testing of availability and bandwidth.

Hurdles to the cloud

Surprisingly, Olson told me that his team didn’t have many
hurdles to the cloud. This goes against common thinking about large corporate
IT bureaucracies.

According to Olson, “There was some security due diligence
that needed to be performed by our IT group, but once we passed the security
muster, it was easy to roll out. It hasn’t been adopted by the whole company.
It was something I wanted to do for my team.”

“We definitely are interested in technology that will help
the business and being a gaming company we are no strangers to server
architecture,” says Olson. “I think we’ve seen a definite advantage to not rely
on iron and look to more on demand services.”

Facing different hurdles

Harmon.ie had dramatically different hurdles to the cloud
than Olson’s group at SEGA, including problems with SharePoint. Lewis says, “There
were no good in-house Microsoft tools in order to transfer all of our sites.
Most of the free tools would work in transferring the sites. The problem was
the metadata for the taxonomy and file libraries and form management.”

They had to use two different systems to transfer data.
Harmon.ie used ShareGate, whose excellent customer support helped with
migrating their custom  metadata from on-premise SharePoint to SharePoint Online.

Lessons learned from moving to the cloud

Lewis shares some lessons learned from their move to the
cloud. Harmon.ie had more of a hands-on effort with helping non-technical users
with usernames, and changing passwords with individual attention. Harmon.ie
also found moving the admin functions over was easier than they first thought
it would be.

Olson relates a lesson learned, “The biggest lesson for me,
and it’s kind of a general philosophy, is to not bite off more than you can

“I always find
implementing new practices and policies can sometimes be cumbersome if you try
to blanket them and hand down an order from on high,” relates Olson. “My goal
was to roll it out slowly, but set firm dates for people to jump off with both

Company size and the cloud

Prior to Harmon.ie, Lewis had experience moving smaller and
mid-size companies to the cloud and says that smaller companies can have an
easier migration to cloud-based email because they don’t have a large amount of
data to transfer.

In contrast, when Olson moved his team to Huddle, besides
due diligence from the IT security group, SEGA’s size didn’t seem to impact his
move. This is contrary to many stories I hear about cloud adoption inside
larger enterprises.

Next steps to the cloud

Olson and his group at SEGA work closely with Huddle to
drive or at least prioritize the product’s roadmap. “We’ve given them some
direct feedback about how they can improve the platform to meet our business
needs. And hopefully the business needs of other customers,” says Olson. We’re
also talking to them to see how other areas of the business can benefit from

Harmon.ie is planning on moving their Voice over IP (VoIP) communications
system to the cloud to save on international phone calls among their
distributed workforce. Lewis also mentioned Harmon.ie is still working to improve
collaboration amongst their distributed workforce.


The cloud moves by Harmon.ie and Olson’s team at SEGA show
striking similarities in the process and importance of management buy-in.
However, IT departments in small to mid-size firms definitely appear to be
doing much of the heavy lifting in terms of the migration despite staffing and
other resource constraints.




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