Changing Minds, Before Technology

Changing Minds, Before Technology

The Challenge

Changing Minds, Before Technology

How do you breakthrough a culture of distrust and adherence to the status quo? One data center at a time…

One of the larger data centre programs we’ve worked on included the retrofit/replacement of all core network and exchange infrastructure across six international data centres for a global telecommunications firm.

The CEO had just missed another critical email and his patience had run out for the firm’s operations support system (OSS) network. Replacing all core routers, firewalls, load balancers, switches and upgrading the Microsoft Exchange infrastructure had become our team’s #1 priority.

This program presented many challenges, and the initial risk assessment highlighted the significant scope of transformation driven by the multiple requested technology platform upgrades.

The key obstacle however was not related to either technology, budget or schedule. We had to overcome the embedded culture of each international data center. Each data center had a manager that ran his DC like a mini empire. All project teams were considered outsiders, consultants were treated with disdain and change was avoided.

Problem Statement

  • Enterprise network prone to service interruptions, impacting email and core services
  • High priority project requested by CEO; high optics and executive pressure.


  • Re-deploy critical network infrastructure (firewalls, switches, routers, exchange servers) to 6 International Data centres
  • Cutover to current technology
  • Decom end-of-life (EOL) gear


  • Seamless transition to new resilient /highly available core infrastructure (i.e., no unplanned service disruptions or outages)
  • Five 9’s (99.999) resiliency / HA


  • Internal network and security SME’s
  • Third party professional services teams to provide local hands & feet where required


  • $7M budget estimated
  • $5M budget allocated
  • 9 months to complete project


  • Each Data Center manager ran his DC as his own empire
  • Consultants and project team members were seen as outsiders by the local data center operations teams
  • High level of resistance to change expressed by local teams

As the objectives of the project collided head on with this resistant culture, our priority was to get these regional teams on board ASAP. We began by involving the DC operations teams in the planning phase of the project. The goal was to have them share the planning and decision responsibilities as opposed to simply being impacted by the project’s decisions.

These teams were also included in the design/solutioning phase and were encouraged to share their recommendations for the rollout of the new infrastructure and subsequent (high exposure) cutovers.

These two actions transformed the DC operations teams into project team members and created a true sense of ownership across the extended team. The DC teams now shared in the success of each progressive cutover. Instead of resisting change they were driving it.


  • Involved the DC operations teams in planning phase
  • Invited DC operations teams to provide recommendations to de-risk cutovers
  • DC operations team management owned key decisions
  • Assigned coordination tasks to DC operations teams
  • Highlighted and attributed project successes to DC operations teams


To deliver a highly-complex IT project including multiple technologies, vendors and international teams, there may be multiple technical challenges to overcome. The key to success however, is building solid relationships within your extended team.

When a project’s risk register is filled with technical items, building high-trust relationships with your team members is the most effective mitigation strategy.