Thursday, October 15, 2009

National e-mail migrations - almost done

As of this morning we're well over 90% of the way through the migration of National (ADSL) customers with @virgin.net e-mail addresses to the Google Apps platform, with all new customers having been on the platform for some time.

As with any migration of this scale - remembering that we have 6m mailboxes overall to move to Google from the legacy platforms - it's had teething problems, but generally it's gone very well and we've had some excellent feedback from our customer care & technical support teams, other staff members and, most importantly, customers.

Given that we're only about 6 weeks in since we migrated the first mailbox and 5 since we started ramping the volumes up, we've got this done very quickly and expect to finish the National migration imminently.

We've attempted to migrate every mailbox at least once so far, and are now working through those that didn't work first time and fixing them before re-migrating them. The reasons they didn't migrate first time are due to a multitude of different scenarios that we are working through one by one, but include:
  • Corrupt mailboxes
  • Password mismatches (data integrity issues we've resolved)
  • Particularly large mailboxes (resulting in mailbox time thresholds being hit, and hence we rollback to ensure people don't lose access to their e-mail for a long period of time)
  • Too many messages in inbox after migrated (a difference in the count of messages on the old platform versus Google, usually due to some spam hitting the mailbox during the migration process)
While none of these are customer affecting and the mailbox is migrated back so the team can fix it if they fail first time, unfortunately we have had a few cases (a low number but we know these are frustrating to those affected) where we have seen some customer impacts, which has in the main affected those with secondary mailboxes on the old platform when the primary has gone to Google.

Our focus has been on fixing these and re-migrating the secondaries as quickly as possible, and the last big batch of these was done last night. I can only apologise for the inconvenience this has caused those few customers affected, as the team have been working all hours to fix these cases when they have happened.

As you can see the faults (in the main calls) we have had in from customers have been well within what we expected, and we're very happy with this given the scale of the migration we have been working on:

[Click on image for a larger version, scale removed as it is commercially sensitive]

The slight rise towards the end of the migration has been as we have tackled some of the more problematic mailboxes and finished our data cleanse programme, which required some customers to change their passwords.

Most people contacting us have been those getting to grips with the Google-based interface, which is quite different to what they were used to previously, and our technical support teams have been helping out when customers do contact us (and more help can be found here).

So where do we go from here?

The next key steps are to finish up the National migration and review it to see what we need to do differently ahead of the next migration in order to improve the customer experience. Next up we have the ex-Telewest customers with @blueyonder.co.uk e-mail addresses, to be followed next year by the ex-NTL customers with @ntlworld.com addresses.

There's also a nifty little tool coming over the next few weeks to help customers who use client software (like Outlook Express) update their settings for what we need them to be in the longer term.

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