Merrick Consolidates From ShareFile and File Servers to Office 365

With the help of Cloud FastPath, pet supply mainstay Merrick executes a multi-phased content migration to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business.

Founded in 1988 by Garth Merrick, Merrick Pet Care has spent three decades providing animal owners with handcrafted, all-natural pet food of the highest quality. Dedicated to providing their customers with the “Best Food Ever,” the organization has become a favorite of pet owners across the nation. Their commitment to their original mission statement attracted the attention of pet care juggernaut Nestle Purina, and in 2015 the industry heavyweight purchased Merrick.

Planning an Office 365 Consolidation

Following their acquisition by Nestle, it made sense for Merrick to adopt a storage strategy that was consistent with their new parent company, and allowed them to continue to grow independently. Prior, the business had relied on a combination of on-premises servers and the cloud platform ShareFile. After evaluating platforms on the market, Office 365 was chosen to be Merricks collaboration platform of choice. The first stage of the migration was to move user email from a number of platforms into Office 365.

After the successful email migration, Merrick set their sights on migrating content to OneDrive and SharePoint Online. Migrating email into Exchange Online went very smoothly, and the new email environment was a success. However, after taking inventory of content stored in ShareFile, home drives, and shared drives, the Merrick team knew that the migration of user content from disparate sources would have unique challenges.

With roughly three terabytes of content and around 140 users to successfully move, Merrick knew that they needed an approach that would have minimal impact on their end-users while moving content quickly and in an organized fashion.

Merrick’s initial plan was to employ Microsoft’s own FastTrack migration service for the migration, but it wasn’t long before they were having second thoughts. First off, FastTrack would only do a single pass on any given job. As a result, content that was synced to the target during the initial migration would be liable to change between the start of the migration and the cutover, during which users would still be working with their files in the source. In addition, the limits on how many users FastTrack could migrate in a given job meant that Merrick’s migration would take much longer than necessary, giving Merrick less time to onboard and train their users in the new cloud environment.

Compounding this already challenging situation, Merrick’s migration would be managed by a three person IT team, in charge of moving dozens of users stationed in multiple locations. The team came to the realization that they needed a flexible tool with which they could centrally orchestrate their migration with as little end-user impact as possible.

Migrating with Cloud FastPath

Initially, Merrick was planning to limit its migration to ShareFile alone. While searching for tools which could migrate content directly from ShareFile to OneDrive and SharePoint Online, IT personnel discovered Cloud FastPath. Merrick discovered that Cloud FastPath would be able to not only migrate their ShareFile content, but the content stored on their file servers as well. With these extensive capabilities, it became clear that Cloud FastPath was a powerful tool which allowed Merrick to migrate on their own terms. “I love that Cloud FastPath gives us much more control,” explains Drew Williams, the System Administrator/Network Engineer who has spearheaded Merrick’s migration projects.

Since they’d already migrated user emails into Exchange Online in August, plotting the order in which they would migrate user profiles, network shares, and content stored in ShareFile became the next priority. According to Drew, home drives were next in line, followed by ShareFile content, and shared drives bringing up the rear. With their strategy in place, the OneDrive/SharePoint Online migration projects began quickly after their Exchange migration finished.

The Merrick team instituted a strategy which reflected all of Cloud FastPath’s migration best practices: thorough analysis on the source, careful creation of migration segments, and multiple concurrent delta syncs.

As Drew explained, Cloud FastPath’s comprehensive analytics and ease of use have made the process of migrating much easier than he would have anticipated. “It’s really easy to use,” he notes. “I’ve barely ever had to talk to support.” Support, he adds, on the few occasions he did require assistance, was very prompt and extremely helpful.

For Merrick, a tool that allowed them to analyze their content in detail, and scope out carefully planned waves was essential. Opting to downsize rather than decommission their servers entirely (owing to the need to keep ISOs and files that interact with their ERP system on-premises), Drew and his team set to work efficiently combing through the server-stored content, quickly identifying the files that could be excluded from the migration with the help of Cloud FastPath Analytics. “It’s really great having the ability to only move over stuff that’s been modified after a certain date, and being able to analyze all that,” Drew emphasizes.

Analytics hasn’t been the only tool undergirding the team’s success, though. With the scheduling features provided by Cloud FastPath, Drew has been able to setup multiple jobs that sync every day, giving Merrick the opportunity to quickly cutover users and to train the staff in the new environment.

Merrick is Thriving in OneDrive and SharePoint Online

Organizations have long extolled Microsoft’s cloud environment for its easy to use interface and wealth of features promoting collaboration and security. After consolidating their content into one central system, “It’s nice knowing that everyone’s content is protected in Office 365,” Drew touts.

Prior to the adoption of OneDrive and SharePoint Online, Drew notes that the business had problems with users going “rogue,” and creating non-sanctioned cloud collaboration accounts. While this practice didn’t result in any major problems for Merrick, Drew and his team recognize that it’s through small issues like these that larger security risks can arise.

Luckily, with SharePoint Online, Merrick end users have access to Microsoft Teams, and Drew and company are thrilled at the possibilities. “It’s great to have document collaboration, and a compliant, approved way to do it, now,” Drew says. As one of those new Office 365 admins, he seems elated about future possibilities.

Migration with Cloud FastPath Empowers Businesses to Evolve

Even at the start of their Cloud FastPath migration, Merrick and its staff were seeing the benefits of their big step. Drew notes how removing user content from their servers has helped save on management headaches and cost inefficiencies.

Automated content migration ensures that organizations can plan and successfully execute these changes to their storage and collaboration infrastructure. Merrick’s adoption of and consolidation to Office 365 shows that storing user content alongside email and other powerful applications available in Office 365 makes the content more valuable and secure.

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of files and content
ShareFile, File Servers
Migration SourcesFor three decades Merrick has been providing pet owners with the highest quality natural pet food, giving them the comfort of knowing that their animals are healthy and in good hands. Recently acquired by Nestle Purina, Merrick continues to grow and thrive, committed to their goal of creating the “Best Food Ever.”