Alaska video operator General Communication, Inc. (GCI (News - Alert)) had to make a decision in February 2010 when it was time to migrate its 143,000 subscribers onto a new video hosted billing platform from its 24-year-old system.
A Recent Cycle30 case study delved into the successful partnership between Cycle30 and GCI. With Cycle30, GCI had a partner to execute a quick migration with a low impact on operations. As a wholly owned subsidiary of General Communication Inc. and a former part of GCI, Cycle30 had the experience working with the operator’s complex business requirements.
“We knew that we needed to migrate. But we were not looking forward to the migration process,” said Maureen Moore, vice president for Consumer Services at GCI. “Everyone in this industry knows about the risks that come with migration: rising costs, lost revenue and service interruptions.”
Adopting a customer-centric model, GCI’s legacy video billing platform was address-based, making it difficult to manage services for multiple customer addresses. The company wanted to adopt a customer-centered hosted billing system that could handle multiple addresses in order to support better customer engagement and still change the nature of their data. The migration would also need to transform large amounts of data stored in “free text” fields, which had created difficulties managing pricing and customer care.
Arthur Gyldenege, Cycle30 data conversion manager for the project, said, “By preloading each piece of the migration in several iterations, we’re able to reduce errors and manual fixes while increasing our client’s confidence in the new system. I’ve been told stories of managers who can’t sleep leading up to a system conversion like this, worried that it will all fall apart. We don’t need to put our customers through that. We have a better, safer way.”
IT professionals tend to prefer the less processor intensive data transfers directly between databases called “back door” transfers. If that data transfer isn’t perfect, the new database will contain a host of artifacts and errors that affect operations, also known as “gotchas.”
“That’s too risky for most operators, and it’s too risky for us,” said Gyldenege.
Cycle30 coupled the front door approach with a “step down” methodology. Through 11 test migrations called “mock loads,” the team fixed problematic trends in records, such as different abbreviations of the word “street” in address fields. This practically eliminated problem records and provided a level of certainty for the actual go-live. In simple terms, the migration used the new application to enter the data into the database. The process enforces business rules and highlights any “problem data” long before go-live.
“When we faced critical issues, we found the Cycle30 team to be responsive,” said Moore, “The team came up with a good plan and executed it.”
Cycle30 worked closely with GCI business users on the business requirements for the new system automating the migration of 99 percent of all records, cleaning data, and moving free-text entries to normalized fields.
Edited by Rich Steeves