Cerba Healthcare, a leader in clinical pathology headquartered in Europe, has successfully expanded its African operations with the help of Velocity Group.
Cerba Healthcare partnered with Lancet Laboratories South Africa to create a joint venture called Cerba-Lancet Africa, which operates a network of over 500 laboratories and 50 technical facilities, servicing customers in more than 50 countries across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
When Stuart Wilson joined Cerba-Lancet Africa as the group IT manager in February 2021, he was faced with a major challenge: Cerba-Lancet Africa needed to align its IT systems with those of Cerba Healthcare, particularly e-mail, in order to meet European Union regulatory compliance. There were at least 1 400 Exchange mailboxes located across Africa that needed to be migrated across to Office 365. The deadline for this was the end of May 2021, and if it could not be met, Cerba-Lancet Africa would be required to use Lancet’s IT infrastructure for another year, at great cost.
Velocity Group, led by CEO Jonathan Kropf, was chosen for the task due to its competitive offer and Wilson’s trust in the team’s ability to get the job done.
“I’ve worked with Jonathan at every company I’ve worked at over the past 15 years, and he has never let me down,” says Wilson. “In such a critical situation, I knew there was nobody better equipped for the job.”
Obstacles to success included the technical complexity of the job; legislative requirements (healthcare is a highly regulated industry and Cerba Healthcare must comply with Europe’s GDPR); the large number of Exchange mailboxes that needed moving; difficulty obtaining the correct levels of access to legacy IT systems; and the insistence of Cerba Healthcare that Cerba-Lancet Africa move into one of their existing cloud tenants as opposed to a brand new one.
But perhaps the biggest technical hurdle was migrating out of an endpoint that was already registered to another tenant – something most said could not be done.
“To do that, we used a Lancet hybrid migration endpoint and some clever DNS mechanisms to migrate into a French tenant not associated with the South African tenant,” says Velocity Group’s chief technology officer, Graham Elston. “It’s not something you’d find in a textbook, but we knew from experience that it could be done.”
Despite these obstacles, Velocity Group was able to successfully migrate all Exchange mailboxes over to the new Office 365 tenant before the May 2021 deadline. In so doing, they achieved the impossible.
“In many ways it felt like we were facing an oncoming train,” says Wilson. “Fortunately, thanks to Velocity Group’s experience and knowledge, they did not agree.”
“Some companies are just too rigid in their methods,” adds Elston. “We know the real world doesn’t work like that, and so the way we approach projects is to simply work with what’s in front of us. In Cerba-Lancet’s case, I made sure the team had the flexibility to do what they needed to.”
“By using our extensive knowledge and skills and thinking outside the box, we were able to meet this very stringent deadline with no overruns or onerous clean-ups required after the fact,” says Kropf. “We take pride in our work, and it’s so satisfying to come in on time and on budget — especially when we were told at the outset that it couldn’t be done. This is what experience enables us to do, and we have plenty of that,” he concludes.
About Velocity Group
Velocity Group is a Sandton-based specialist ICT reseller and systems integrator. We specialise in delivering hybrid cloud strategies to our customers to help them navigate the hybrid IT world and make the correct technology decisions. We listen closely to our clients’ needs so that we’re able to deliver the best solutions for their exact requirements. For more, visit www.velocitygroup.co.za or call 011 018 1700.
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