About the Client
A top 50 UK law firm with more than 500 employees wanted to migrate its case management system from Microsoft Team Foundation Server to Microsoft Azure DevOps. However, the process was fraught with complexity. We turned this high-risk move into a high-value event, unlocking tangible business benefits.
Challenge: Complexities Put Integration and Collaboration Under Threat
The law firm’s proprietary case management system, originally built using the on-premise Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS), plays a central role in enabling lawyers and other fee-earners to process insurance litigation matters. With advancements in cloud technologies, it became apparent that moving the application to Microsoft Azure DevOps could offer significant benefits. The platform was already being used for some applications, and there was an appetite to build on this.
Nevertheless, several factors made this migration less straightforward than a standard move from TFS to Azure DevOps. The client had completed a major acquisition of another law firm in the 12 months prior, so the move was an opportunity to integrate casework from the two businesses. However, this was complicated by the prevalence of customised project templates. Furthermore, the fact that some applications were already running on Azure DevOps precluded the use of Microsoft’s standard Azure DevOps 2019 Server Upgrade Process combined with Azure DevOps Migration Tools.
The standard approach would have resulted in the case management system being isolated in its own Azure DevOps organisation, limiting collaboration. Since facilitating a CI/ CD approach to software development was a high priority, this was not acceptable. It was important to ensure commonality across all applications.
Solution: Standard Methods Weren’t up to the Task, so an Engineer-led Alternative was Deployed
Given the complexity and potential repercussions of the migration, we devised a tailored approach. We’re well-versed in standard Microsoft migration tools, and following an Inception Day to enrich our understanding of the existing implementation, it was clear that they wouldn’t offer an optimum migration on this occasion. So, instead of following the mainstream migration pattern, we developed an alternative with the flexibility and precision required to meet the client’s needs.
This approach involved careful selection and deployment of open-source tools. And we used virtual machines for a dry-run, enabling work items to be reviewed and validated before the migration of live data was triggered.
A central aspect of the solution was the conversion of the case management system’s source code to GIT using GIT-TFS. The GIT-TFS tool acts as a two-way bridge between TFS and GIT, pulling TFS commits into a GIT repository then pushing updates back to TFS. Converting the source code in this way meant it could be pushed into the existing Azure DevOps organisation rather than necessitating a new, standalone organisation. The migration itself was achieved using VSTS Sync Migrator, a powerful open source tool available in Microsoft’s Visual Studio Marketplace to facilitate the migration of high-fidelity work items.
Outcome: Migration Unlocks Better Ways of Working and Commercial Advantage
Despite the complexity and risks involved, the migration of this case management system from TFS to Azure DevOps was completed on-time and on-budget without compromising performance during the transition. This empowered the client to quickly derive tangible value from the cloud environment, further strengthening its position at the forefront of insurance litigation. The law firm now has a firmly established DevOps culture, and is set to further improve and accelerate its delivery of new functionality to maximise customer satisfaction and competitive differentiation.
This case study is based on work completed by DevOpsGroup before the team joined forces with Sourced Group, an Amdocs company.