Xylos migrates 3200 Crelan staff to Microsoft environment

“They did not keep us waiting if things outside the scope had to be sorted out.”

Xylos migrates Crelan mail from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange
Users can now work anytime and anywhere
Exchange Server runs ‘on premises’, which proved cheaper than the cloud

Crelan is surfing on the wave of digitisation too. Mobile banking has recently become easier for customers, and the staff also benefit from the innovation. The bank migrated to Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint and Skype for Business under its ‘workplace of the future’ project. “These applications are highly integrated and promote collaboration both internally and with staff working from home or remotely in the satellite offices”, says Crelan’s project manager Calogero Arnone. Crelan called on Xylos to help with the migration from the old Lotus environment. “Their technical knowledge, experience and customer focus enabled us to achieve a seamless process.”

‘On premises’ still always cheaper

Crelan decided in 2014 to migrate to a new platform. “We obtained three quotes for on-site infrastructure, three for a private cloud with a local provider and also two public cloud quotes. However the cloud fell short”, says Arnone. Crelan therefore considered using a public cloud with Google Mail and Microsoft Office 365, but quickly decided that its documents needed to stay on its own servers. “We are a bank and security is a top priority.”

That left two options: a private cloud, or no cloud at all. Crelan carried out an ROI calculation, as a result of which it decided to stay ‘on premises’. You then have no limitations on mail storage which, according to Arnone, made this the cheapest solution. Moreover internally this can guarantee 99.95% availability, which is higher than the promises made to him by the private and public cloud providers.

The project manager awarded the contract to Xylos, an outsider he says. “In a certain sense, yes. Their bid was always consistent through the commercial process, and that generates confidence. We had already implemented a Windows reconciliation project with them following the merger with Centea. They’re the best in their field. Their engineers are very good at anticipating needs, which is one of their strengths.”

Migration of 2 terabytes of e-mail

The messaging team at Xylos devised the technical design and came up with a dual-redundant infrastructure with HPE servers in Crelan’s two data centres. Some thirty virtual servers were installed on these centres using the migration tool from Dell Software (formerly Quest) with whom Xylos already has a very good understanding.

In total, 3200 mailboxes had to be moved to the new Exchange servers. Not exactly an easy job seeing as the 1000 employees at head office had on average one gigabyte of mail per user, and the 2200 staff in the 750 agencies averaged around half a gigabyte each. 

  • 3200 the number of computer users now working with Microsoft Outlook
  • 9 the number of months the migration took
  • the number of practical online courses developed by Xylos

Perfect preparation for seamless migration

According to Calogero Arnone Xylos and Dell Software were perfectly prepared: “On completion of a pilot project of around one hundred mailboxes, we had the thirty servers do their work in parallel. Each server migrated around 50 users at a time, with up to 250 users per batch at its peak. We even migrated archives from 1992! In the banking industry, you sometimes have to keep a lot of stuff.”

Migrating the head office took around a week. The agencies were tackled by region in six migration waves. The Office software was upgraded at the same time and Xylos also converted a number of Lotus Notes applications such as discussion forums to SharePoint templates.

Online training via Xylos

Xylos put together a number of online courses to ensure that the changeover to the new applications was as smooth as possible. The ‘user adoption’ course taught users how to perform their day-to-day tasks with the Microsoft software. Once they had got to grips with that, users could take the 'user evolution' course to learn new functions.

In total the migration process took just nine months, leaving Arnone feeling very satisfied. “What struck me is that Xylos kept the reporting and communication paths very short. They also concentrate on the project and the results. They did not keep us waiting if things outside the scope of the contract had to be sorted out.”

“Xylos really is the best in its field. Their engineers are very good at anticipating needs, which is one of their strengths.”

Calogero Arnone, global infrastructure project manager