Sunday, September 20, 2009

Google - Week One

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we're in the process of migrating the first of our domains (for Virgin Media National customers with a @virgin.net e-mail address) onto the Google Apps platform for our Virgin Media Mail service (which new customers have been on for some time).

Once customers are moved over they get the benefit of 7GB inboxes, search and chat features and we get them onto a platform that means we can offer more services in the future. They'll be able to get @virginmedia.com e-mail addresses too.

There's plenty more info on our website for anyone interested in what is happening.

Last week we started the movement of customer mailboxes to the Google platform after our internal staff trials were closed as a success the week before - with something like 94% positive feedback from the triallists.

Starting on Tuesday last week, we moved just under 3,000 mailboxes to Google (at over a 95% success rate - any that didn't migrate successfully are switched back to the old platform while we fix whatever we need to, so there's no customer impact), and all the metrics we measure on customer calls and contacts are looking good.

To mark the start of the migrations, one of our change managers and I spent much of the week with our technical support team in Swansea just to ensure all is going well so far:
Inside the centre itself though, things are busier in the distance than the foreground - but the good news is that things are going well for them too:
With all looking good, we're ramping up the volumes to get the migrations complete as soon as possible and move onto the cable platforms (for customers with @ntlworld.com and @blueyonder.co.uk e-mail addresses) while we implement a few fixes to improve the migration success rate.

Now, onto week two!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The 330mph pigeon

It was amusing to read on the train on the way into work this morning about the South African firm who pitted a carrier pigeon against their broadband service from their local ADSL provider to see who could get 4GB of data to travel 60 miles between their offices quickest - and that the pigeon won hands down, as it arrived with its memory stick when the file was only 4% through its comparable electronic transfer.

This is an example of a great way to compare old tech with new tech, and also to make the point to their ISP in the process - although the ISP has said that the company in question has not undertaken any of the service improvement ideas they have recommended to speed up their slow broadband connection.

One of the boffins in our PR team decided to compare this with a download over our 50Mb broadband service, and have reported to TechRadar that the pigeon would need to travel at almost 330mph in order to keep up with our 50Mb in comparison!

From TechRadar:

"On our service, that 4GB would take under 11 minutes to transfer," the Virgin Media rep proudly informed us. "For a pigeon to beat us, it would have to fly at nearly 330mph."

He was even kind enough to send us his calculations, which were as follows:

(4 GB) / (50 (megabits per second)) = 10.9226667 minutes

(60 miles) / (10.9226667 minutes) = 147.339843 m / s

147.339843 (meters per second) = 329.589842 miles per hour

And that's one heck of a fast pigeon, much faster than the fastest bird recorded, which is supposedly the Spine-Tailed Swift - which can reach an impressive 171km/h (just over 106 mph apparently).

Saturday, September 5, 2009

1,2,3 ... migrate

There's a big couple of weeks coming up at Virgin Media as we start to move our existing customer mailboxes to the Google Apps mail platform (as we announced back in April).
Since May all new customers have been provisioned onto the Google platform, and we now have well over six figures in terms of mailboxes on there. Most people are using Webmail rather than client (e.g. Outlook Express) access to their e-mail (with a @virginmedia.com e-mail address) and our fault rates (contacts into our technical support teams) are well within forecast.

We have 6 million mailboxes (as customers can have more than one mailbox) to move over from our existing customer base also, and we're starting with the migration of our National (ADSL) customers - who have an e-mail address ending with @virgin.net. Customers with @ntlworld.com and @blueyonder.co.uk e-mail addresses will be migrated to the platform once we have all the National customers onto Google.

Next week we are planning to start e-mailing customers to let them know of their upcoming migration to Google, what the new features are and that they will keep their current e-mail address (we're planning to offer customers the opportunity to migrate to the @virginmedia.com domain if they wish to at a later date). The e-mails will be sent to people before their mailbox is migrated (i.e. people won't all receive them at once), and they look something like this:
Since we launched with new customers we have been working on getting ready for the migrations, and now that the test migrations have completed and our staff trials are going well (with really good feedback), we've called a go decision to commence the communications and the migrations will get into full flight over the next few weeks.

Great credit and thanks to the fantastic project team of course! Roll on the next few weeks, and we think people will enjoy the new Google functionality.

There's lots of help information on our website about Virgin Media Mail (on Google) if people want to read more.