Recently, BlueCat hosted a half day summit where we invited several VitalQIP customers to discuss their migration strategies and goals.
This was an eye-opening experience as participants have raised some very real migration concerns. After all, migrating DNS infrastructure is no simple thing - the stakes are high and some organizations are understandably worried about the risks involved. While most of their worries are focused on cloud, automation and security, there were several questions posed regarding their vendor search:
- Company vision: Will their partner have a long term vision aligned with their initiatives? Does their partner invest ahead of market in research and development? Do they welcome strategic customer input? Are they thoughtful towards enterprise-wide initiatives?
- Migration capability: Will their partner have the resources and expertise to safely migrate the entire solution? How is their track record of successful transitions with similarly-sized customers? How will they migrate data, automation and operations?
- Operational efficiency: Will their new solution have a positive impact on business? Will their new partner provide adequate support in the long run? How will they handle deployment and licensing? Do they utilize DNS as a Service?
Before your migration, take stock of what you currently have
Our customer explained to the group that before he was able to search for a new DNS vendor, he was tasked with evaluating their (at the time) VitalQIP solution in order to determine exactly what would be needed in this new endeavour. To begin, it was necessary to determine not only their requirements, but their pain points as well – by taking a bottom-up approach, an organization can sort out their needs from their wants. Another important point to consider is sorting out where they want to be in the future, as this will help to further zoom-in on what exactly is needed from their DNS.
During our customer’s evaluation, he uncovered several challenges that were present in their environment at the time:
“Some of our challenges with QIP which we uncovered, and some other customers of QIP that I chatted with as well was patching, zero-day patching. If something comes out, getting a patch certified from the vendor in time. Ability for automation, definitely a lack of ability for automation on the platform we were running with QIP, being able to leverage APIs, automating operational tasks and daily records, housekeeping tasks. Those were some of our major challenges. As well as going into a progressive infrastructure that will allow us to advance all of our goals from an automation standpoint.”
Overall, it had become clear to our customer that there were several issues to address, and a lot of work to be done.
Finding the right vendor is an extensive process
“When you’re in the sales cycle, you have a great relationship, everyone wants to make the sale, but in the end, who is going to be there after the sale, who is going to see it through? And that is pretty hard to determine during the process but it is important.”
Our customer started their search by evaluating the top vendors in the market with a list of criteria to base them on. Once the vendors had been shortlisted, they were able to begin the next step of comparing each vendor’s proof of concept side by side – when each detail counts, an exhaustive search process is never a bad idea.
Our customer continued, and stated that their comparisons involved evaluating each vendor’s proposed infrastructure, the implementation and the impact that it could have on business, as downtime is simply not an option. It was at this point that our customer made the discovery that BlueCat and VitalQIP have a lot of similarities in the architecture as opposed to other vendors; on top of this, BlueCat’s architecture was interoperable with VitalQIP. Once the decision to move forward had been made, this migration was seen as an opportunity – to bring everything into a single pane of glass, to optimize infrastructure.
A successful migration is never rushed
“Going into the migration, we started with clean importable data. This was a long process for both teams to convert the data and make sure it works perfect. Getting this right was key.”
For our customer, migrations are best done when they’re performed in phases, which helps to ensure that nothing is missed and any issues can be addressed before they grow. They detailed that their migration occurred in three phases: external namespace, internal namespace and DHCP, and recommended that a good practice to follow is incorporating the majority of automation upfront. They also mentioned the key point of considering future product integrations during architecture.
Another important note mentioned was that organizations need to always keep their risk tolerance and business processes at the forefront of their migration plan. If a migration takes a little longer than initially planned to complete, but everything goes well and nothing is lost, then in the end it’s worth it. However, lagging progress can be mitigated by having a well-prepared team at the helm, and for our customer, slow and steady won the race: “Fortunately, the entire migration process – we achieved that zero impact to employees, which was really huge.”
Life after migration
Our customer concluded the presentation by sharing how pleased they were with such a smooth migration to BlueCat, and since then any desired upgrades have been seamless. In the customer’s words,
“Now we’re doing updates potentially every minute. We’re doing constant API calls.”
Going forward, “The focus has been increased security, stability of the infrastructure, as well as delivering automation on every layer.” This will be achieved with solutions like BlueCat DNS Edge and continued use of our API. There are many changes ahead for our customer (and anyone looking to migrate from VitalQIP), but they can rest assured that they’re heading in the right direction.
We appreciate our customer for taking the time to speak with us and our audience, and we would like to extend a thank you to all who participated. Change might be hard, but it’s necessary for a brighter future. You’re not just swapping like for like technology, you’re evolving your business infrastructure to take advantage of the momentous changes that are happening in technology: IoT, SD-WAN, cybersecurity, cloud migration (and the list goes on and on). If your organization is still feeling some unease about migrating from VitalQIP, please speak with one of our migration experts.