One of the largest social landlords in Scotland, Link Group is a group of award-winning social enterprise companies serving over 15,000 customers.
They provide affordable housing, property management, regeneration, advice, financial inclusion and employability services. Since Link was established in 1962, they have become a leader in developing and delivering innovative homes and services for those in need.
Before the merger, Weslo Housing Management were a registered social landlord in West Lothian. With over 2000 properties in West Lothian and Bo’ness, their key objective was to provide affordable, good quality, rented housing suited to the people of West Lothian and Bo’ness.
Challenges facing both Link and Weslo
Link and Welso were faced with a significant project to integrate the two businesses. Both sets of businesses had separate systems, processes, Office 365 tenants. Working with Bridgeall they identified the Office 365 tenant migration as a key step and enabler for further integration and collaboration.
The tenant-to-tenant (T2T) migration is a complex process and involves a multi-pronged process. The challenge with this project was to ensure that all mailboxes, email instances, domains, SharePoint and OneDrive accounts, were migrated from the source tenant (Weslo) to the destination one (Link), seamlessly, and operated smoothly. Doing this in a way that minimises disruption and ensuring each business takes the required actions in the project plan was key.
The organisations also wanted to ensure this process was done in an adequate amount of time to avoid any disruption to their tenants and workforce.
Working closely with Link and Weslo IT teams, Bridgeall’s primary focus was the Microsoft Cloud Services Office 365 in use by both organisations, and the migration of data from the Weslo O365 tenant across to the Link Group tenant.
The process of migrating one Office 365 tenant into another is a key step in integrating the two businesses. Bridgeall worked closely with both businesses to agree a timescale and switch over date for this to happen.
A number of steps need to be carried out in the right order to ensure a smooth transition that is seamless for employees.
We identified the following services that we had to work on for the project:
Azure Active Directory/Identity and Security – New identities had to be established in the Link on premise Active Directory and synchronised to the Cloud to enable authentication for the Weslo users.
Exchange Online, Email, calendars, and contacts – User and shared mailboxes were transferred between Office 365 tenants using migrations tools and regularly synchronised ready for a cutover migration on the agreed go-live day.
SharePoint, OneDrive for Business/Repository for users’ personal documents – Personal files stored on network file shares were moved to OneDrive for business were transferred between Office 365 tenants using migrations tools and regularly synchronised ready for a cutover migration on the agreed go-live day.
Teams, Existing teams/channels – Transferred between Office 365 tenants using migrations tools.
As a result of the project Link and Welso now operate under a single unified system. They have also seen multiple benefits – all with zero downtime.
- Seamless integration of two businesses – Link and Weslo were able to maintain continuity of service which led to minimal impact to the businesses. Remote systems also continued to run smoothly with complete availability of messaging and services.
- Successful collaboration – The business merger can now be fully realised for both organisations having access to the workspaces and data within a single location so, they spend more time working on important tasks and less time accessing separate resources.
- Costs – Reduced operational overhead of maintaining multiple Office 365 tenants, AD Connect servers and on premise AD domains.