What’s in a name? A lot, as it turns out.
Most people have never heard of BackRub, Blue Ribbon Sports or AuctionWeb, but they do know the names those brands became after a name change: Google, Nike and eBay. While the success of those companies can’t be attributed to their names alone, following the appropriate IT procedures during a company name change is critical for any business’s long-term success.
The Carlisle Tire and Rubber Co., a leading producer of specialty tires, wheels and industrial belts, opened almost 100 years ago. And, like most companies, it has gone through many changes. Recently, the company was acquired by American Industrial Partners, which resulted in a February 2015 name change to The Carlstar Group. Carlstar’s IT staff knew they had a large amount of work in front of them, but just how much was difficult to understand.
Following the acquisition, Carlstar required a new domain name and the ability to convert from a known, 100-year-old name without losing customer connectivity. Carlstar wanted to give customers and suppliers ample time to adjust to the domain changes in their email contacts. In addition, IT needed to update more than 200 servers and migrate 2,200 users, while also upgrading Microsoft Active Directory, Exchange, SharePoint and Office, as well as company firewalls.
“What we’re talking about here is not simply changing one name and adding another, but every piece of technology in the company — from servers, switches, routers, wireless access points and smartphones/tablets to contact information on every website, the internal phone systems, the templates for employee email addresses and all of the software applications and PCs. Everything had to be updated,” says Brent Glendening, Carlstar’s vice president of IT.
Over 45 days, Carlstar’s six-person IT staff moved the company’s employees from carlisle.com to carlstargroup.com without disrupting operations during the transition. Many of the steps Carlstar’s team took during their migration would apply to any domain migration:
1. Remember that timing is everything.
Provide enough time to properly plan for a smooth and deliberate transition to a new name without diminishing the legacy of the brand. Carlstar waited several months after the acquisition to release the new domain name.
2. Jump on opportunity.
A domain change is also a great time to review and upgrade legacy IT systems. For Carlstar, it made sense during the migration for the IT team to upgrade the company from Microsoft Exchange 2010 to 2013. Exchange runs on its own physical server, an HP DL380 G8.
3. Choose appropriate hardware.
IT teams most likely will need new technology to convert Active Directory. Carlstar’s IT team deployed a new physical HP server and a virtual domain controller for this task.
4. Maintain security protocols.
Manage email migration in a secure and organized way. Carlstar worked with a migration manager solution for Active Directory, and Migration Manager for Exchange, to move the company over to the new domain. The Active Directory software allowed them to copy all groups and users from the old domain to the new domain, kept all passwords in sync and reapplied them to the new domain. The Exchange migration tool made it possible to synchronize email between old and new domains during the transition.
5. Manage resources wisely.
A domain migration is a huge task. Do not overtax the wide area network or the IT staff and employees’ time. Carlstar’s migration took place across 12 locations. The IT team managed the load in pieces, migrating 20 to 25 users per day, per location. They alerted individual employees through calendar invites that included migration information.
As employees received their invites, users were instructed to log off and reboot their computers. The migration tool then ran in the background and — depending on the file size of the mailbox, age of the computer and the number of contacts — took 20 to 30 minutes to complete. The domain migration also included the transition of the PC registry settings from the old domain to the new domain automatically upon rebooting the PC.
Finishing the Job
While the bulk of the job involved converting Active Directory and Exchange, some other tasks were left for the IT team to complete, including joining all the company’s PCs and servers to the new domain. Using the Active Directory tool, they changed the domain name and rebooted PCs and servers, one by one.
Other tasks included deployment of the new SharePoint and Lync servers and updating them to the new domain. That task was made easier because the IT team could provision the new servers as virtual machines. In fact, without the company’s virtual environment, it would have been impossible to finish the cutover to the new domain within 45 days.
It wasn’t easy, but everyone on the Carlstar IT team put in extra hours while receiving technical guidance and expertise from CDW, which brought in tools from multiple vendors to help the company meet its aggressive deadlines. Overall, it was a combined team effort.