Approach to Office 365 Migration | Consultant Thoughts

Microsoft Office 365 (O365) has been around as a service for a while now, and can be considered mature.  Many companies are now using it, although we do not have exact figures from Microsoft.

You may be using an on-premise email environment (Exchange, GroupWise, or Domino), which may be approaching time for an upgrade.  This is the time to be considering Office 365 as your next email platform for your business.

Office 365 | Single Points of Failure

Think carefully about your reasons for going to Office 365, and if you want to link it (Federation) with local Active Directory (AD).   Linking with your local AD can be useful for features like Single Sign On (SSO), but require different levels of new on-premise local server infrastructure to support – and introduces new single points of failure to consider.

On one project, a customer moved from Domino to Office 365, and used ADFS – they ended up with more ADFS related servers on-premise than the count of Domino servers being decommissioned.   Is that what moving to the cloud is really about.    To really gain financial benefits from moving to the cloud we advocate not using ADFS, or DirSync – just use Office 365 as a web mail service – users will have to be responsible for managing a new set of credentials.

Office 365 | Choosing a Partner

How to go about migrating to Office 365 ?  There are plenty of Microsoft Partners who will gladly help you with Office 365, but do they really care about the migration (and coexistence) phases that will be required.   Our experience is that their main expertise is on the Office 365 service, and getting users onto it as fast as possible.

Here at we care about your business and your users.  When we migrate you to Office 365 it will be after careful analysis of how you work now, and sharing a Migration Strategy with you that anyone can read to understand what will happen. Included in the Migration Strategy is a Risk Management Plan.  Spending a few days planning is never wasted money, but doing little or no planning can be very costly.   We want the CIO to understand what will take place for the migration, and agree to it, before it starts.   Would you change one of the most important applications for your business without a plan, and full understanding of it ?

Office 365 | Potential Migration Issues

Common areas that cause issues with migrations to Office 365 are:

  • Throttling of migrating data by Microsoft.   Speeds of data migration can be as low as 200 MB/hr.  If you have 5 TB of data, then that will take a long time.  A Smart Migration Strategy, coupled with the right migration tool, can mitigate this.
  • Shared Mailboxes.  Users may use Shared Mailboxes with complex rule sets and folders every day.  How will these be migrated to Office 365, and at what point in the migration project are they best tackled ?
  • SMTP Relay Service.    You may have provided an SMTP relay service on-premise for devices like Unix Servers or multi-function printers.  How will this SMTP relay service be available in Office 365 ?
  • Coexistence.  Migration might take a few months.  How can coexistence be setup to minimize business disruption.   There are a few different 3rd Party Tools for coexistence to choose from.  Do you need to buy one of them, or is there a smarter way of doing your migration to avoid having to purchase one – they can be expensive.
  • OST Saturation.   It is likely that users will need new Outlook Profiles as part of their migration to Office 365, which means new OST files will be created on their local hard drives.  Do they have enough space for these on their local disk ?  The user might have a 10GB mailbox.   The OST file will take time to fully download, and if you have multiple users starting up their Office 365 mailbox at the same time, then all those OSTs being downloaded may saturate your network.   Again, this needs capturing in your Migration Strategy as a risk.
  • Support Procedures.   How will the Service Desk be creating new mailboxes on Office 365 – do you have process for this ?  Do they need automation for some tasks ?   What is the process for someone who leaves the company – what happens to their Office 365 mailbox ?
  • Compliance.  Does your business have Compliance requirements in terms of length of time to hold data, or where that data is held (which country) ?
  • Do you use Lync now, or do you want to use it, and maybe integrate it to your PBX ?

The above are just a few areas to focus on for your move to Office 365.   We are a fan of the Office 365 service, and use it ourselves.  However, we want this article to emphasize that careful consideration of many factors is required before making that move.

Office 365 Migration | Consulting Options

Hire my email migration consulting services to help you with your project, even if it is only to act as a Trusted Technical Advisor during your transition.   You can use my services as you need them for your project.   My consulting rates are competitive as our overheads are low.  Contact Us for a discussion of how I can help.

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