Managing Microsoft platforms through M&A

A merger, acquisition or divestiture is a critical period for an enterprise and, these business initiatives require a consolidation of IT systems and underlying infrastructures such as active directory.

Without proper planning, these critical migration projects can interrupt continuity of business IT and put sensitive data at risk. In addition, to drive the newly formed business forward, IT teams must have time to innovate – an aspect that is increasingly instrumental to business success but all too often ignored.

>See also: Unprecedented surge in tech M&A in Q1 2017

A unorganised approach to IT integration can drain value from an acquisition, but the reverse is also true: research from McKinsey has shown that a company with streamlined IT can demand more from an acquirer as a result of the 10 to 15% cost savings associated with a smooth IT integration.

To ensure this transition is managed effectively, the new IT team of a merged business should utilise migration and consolidation software. Software can free up valuable IT resources by efficiently moving and restructuring user accounts, data and systems without impacting users or business productivity.

During times of migration this ensures enterprises are prepared for change yet remain undistracted, secure and focused on business, rather than worried about the deployment and security of their users, systems and data.

AD is crucial

As part of this process, it is crucial that businesses assess which of their processes are the most important and must be integrated early, versus those which can be managed and eased into the overall infrastructure over time.

Active directory (AD) is towards the top of the list of priorities for both IT managers and CIOs when it comes to these first steps. Studies have shown that approximately 90 per cent of applications use active directory as the de facto source of authentication.

>See also: Hackers stay out: how to protect your organisation during an M&A

During a merger or acquisition, the addition of another domain with varying security measures often leaves IT infrastructure disjointed and difficult to manage, and IT teams are constantly aware that any outage could bring the organisation to a complete standstill.

Who’s using what?

The addition of new users is also a challenge during an integration. Organisations must choose whether to incorporate all new users as new employees or not, taking into account that a proportion of these users will not remain with the business during the transition. There is also the option to run multiple domains in the short term – an unattractive option for IT managers who prefer to sustain an IT system that is secure and easy-to-manage. Neither option is attractive and both cost time and money.

On premise or in the cloud?

Another key consideration when integrating IT systems is whether users and data are located on premises or in the cloud. With increasing rollout of Office 365, which includes complimentary subscription to Azure AD – Microsoft’s multi-tenant cloud based directory and management service – organisations can benefit from a range of more flexible and fully automated SaaS app access management and provisioning services capabilities.

>See also: 300 years of technology M&A: Brexit in context

During an acquisition, if a company running its users and data on-premises acquires (or is acquired by) a company running Office 365, the IT management team is faced with a number of challenges.

When integrating directory services, for example, the organisation can synchronise and manage user accounts for both environments, but must first spend time preparing its on-premises directory for synchronisation.

Similarly, when integrating on-premises server products, the organisation must decide what proportion of users and information to migrate, often utilising a hybrid environment in the first instance, or even on an ongoing basis.

If both companies are running Office 365 and Azure AD, the newly merged entity is faced with a different set of challenges. Office 365 tenant to tenant migration incorporates a number of new services to migrate – including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, CRM Online, etc. – each requiring a different approach.

Meanwhile, Exchange Online brings with it vanity domains, which can only be attached to one tenant at a time, while OneDrive for Business requires redirection of sync tools for users unaware they’re saving data on an external service.

>See also: Virtualised environments accelerate integration during M&A

Simplifying integration

This myriad of considerations can be a nightmare for IT teams before, during and after a merger. As organisations increasingly look to Office 365 and hybrid AD models as the most economical approach for their business, we only expect this challenge to intensify.

When going through this process it is therefore essential that organisations assess, plan and modernise their infrastructure. In order to achieve this, IT teams require a solution that can consolidate AD, integrate users through on-premises, cloud and hybrid access methods quickly and, ultimately, ensure that their Microsoft platforms are setup to best serve the needs of their new business.


Sourced by Alistair Holmes, software sales engineering senior manager at Quest


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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