Hybrid cloud solution with Microsoft Office 365.
NIIOS was founded by Dr. G.R.J. Melles in 2003. Under his leadership, together with the NIIOS team, fundamentally new transplantation techniques have been developed over the past 15 years for corneal diseases. These techniques have now been adopted internationally as the gold standard. In addition, Dr. Melles has developed ophthalmic instruments and dye solutions for use in cataract surgery.

More than 20 million patients worldwide have been operated with the use of the surgical techniques developed by Melles, giving them better vision. For many, blindness may even have been prevented.

These techniques are also used at the cornea clinic in Rotterdam (the Melles Cornea Clinic). NIIOS Research & Development focuses on research and development of tissue treatment methods. Another component within NIIOS is the Eye Bank. In the Eye Bank, donor tissue is processed into a high-quality end product, which is supplied to ophthalmologists in the Netherlands and abroad.

Jacqueline Blok is a project manager at Niios, Arnaud van Herk is an IT specialist at Referit.

helping as many patients as possible.

"Our mission is to be able to help as many patients with corneal problems as possible, where the patient suffers as little as possible from the surgery. Our techniques are also increasingly used abroad. Doctors from all over the world come to Rotterdam for a two-day course to master Gerrit Melles' technique."

what was the main reason for NIIOS to seek IT help?

Arnaud: "In 2010, I was still working as a freelancer and was approached by an acquaintance to stop by and talk to the owner, Gerrit Melles. Since that moment we decided I was going to handle their IT management. In 2017 I started working for Referit, then we decided by mutual agreement to include NIIOS as well.

We then also noticed that the systems within NIIOS were outdated, so there was a need for a more modern environment. An environment that was not only more modern and faster, but also more secure. Especially important, knowing all the important personal data they manage. Referit was able to offer this as well, which went very naturally."

how was the process?

Arnaud: "It was actually two different trajectories; the migration of their local mail server to Office 365 and the other to replace the hardware. NIIOS had data all scattered across different systems. We wanted to consolidate this as much as possible to a central place. The first thing that stood out was that they were working with five physical servers, I wanted to reduce this to one local server, where other virtual servers could run on it. This solution of course also saves a lot of heat and energy. Before migrating the Exchange server to Office 365, we first looked at the number of accounts, shared mailboxes and public folders. After a large inventory, we looked at how the transition could go as smoothly as possible. The important thing is that the end user is affected as little as possible."

After a major inventory, we looked at how the transition could go as smoothly as possible. The important thing is that the end user is affected as little as possible.
Arnaud van Herk - Referit

what did the approach look like?

"To make this happen, we first set up the hardware, and then built a whole new environment on top of that, alongside the existing environment. After realising this, we made sure all data that was being used, was neatly synchronized. Those two environments ran synchronously side by side for a while. With regards to e-mail, we chose to build a hybrid implementation. This means that you can still use both ways to access your account for a while. So they got access through the 'old' way, but also access to the account within the Office 365 environment. Thanks to this hybrid environment, all data and mail messages are immediately available in both locations, because they have a connection with each other. All mailboxes were already migrated to Office 365, like a copy. The user didn't notice anything."

what tools have been deployed?

Arnaud: ''We accomplished the migration to the new hardware with Hyper-V. The existing environment of NIIOS consisted of 4 physical servers and this was migrated/consolidated to 1 physical server with Hyper-V. Several virtual servers were set up within Hyper-V, replacing the existing physical servers. For the transition to Office 365, a Hybrid Configuration Wizard was used for the hybrid environment between Exchange and Office 365. Azure AD Connect was also used for synchronization of certain objects. And ReliefJet Essentials for Outlook to transfer all public folders."

why was Referit chosen?

Jacqueline: "Arnaud has been coming here for a long time. Gerrit Melles likes to work with people with whom he also builds a bond of trust over time. And the trust in Arnaud is enormous. We like the fact that we can always rely on him. He has also witnessed the growth of the company and is aware of all the backgrounds. Everything here was still on a local server, we have now partially moved to the cloud with Office 365, quite a big step for NIIOS."

how was cooperation during the process?

Jacqueline: "The guidance from Arnaud and Referit was great. In particular, the coordination with each other of all preparations. We thoroughly discussed what we were going to do and what this actually meant for the end users. There was still a certain fear among the employees that it would take a lot of getting used to after the transition and things would no longer run the same way as before. To avoid problems, we set up a project group, which did all kinds of tests together with Arnaud. After implementation, everything generally went very well."

Arnaud: "The entire migration was finally arranged in one weekend last January. With about two weeks of aftercare during which I myself was present on site, everything is now running smoothly. So they switched from old to new in one weekend.

"Of course it took some time getting used to everything, it's quite a transition from the old Office 2010 to Office 365. In terms of appearance, deliberately not much has changed, the desktop is slightly different and of course the new Office environment also works slightly differently. But other than that, as much as possible has remained the same for a smooth transition. A lot happened behind the scenes, but NIIOS didn't notice any of this."

We discussed well exactly what we are going to do and what this actually means for the end users.
Jacqueline Blok - NIIOS

what is the most positive outcome of this project?

Arnaud: "NIIOS definitely notices the benefits of being able to access their files anytime thanks to OneDrive. And to always have access to their email account. Quite recently there was a huge power failure in a large part of Rotterdam. The employees at NIIOS then realized that they could still work from home. If they had still been working with the old system, then work could not have been executed for hours."

Jacqueline Blok: "The general availability of the archive and of our mail is important. It's very nice that you can constantly access this. And that you can work remotely and always have the latest versions of documents at hand. It also feels that everything works a bit smoother."

are there any other areas of improvement that are planned in the future?

Arnaud: "At the moment, of course, this is sufficient and already a huge step forward, it could be that in the future they move completely to the cloud. Currently it is a hybrid construction. We are brainstorming together to further develop and improve efficiency in work processes."

Jacqueline: "Efficiency in work processes is a high priority for us, with data security always in the back of our minds. With this project, we will also use the expertise of Arnaud and Referit."

what did you think of working with Referit?

Jacqueline: "The service orientation is very high, the accessibility excellent. The contact during planning is also very pleasant, because in advance you know where you are at and there are no surprises. In short, they have a professional way of working and things happen the way that are agreed upon.