Office 365 is one of Microsoft’s fastest emerging products ever, yet some enterprises have come to a standstill when it comes to migrating mailboxes from Exchange (on-premises) to Office 365 Cloud Exchange. So, what seems to be the hitch? For some, the migration plan interferes with other routine business tasks, and for others the process just seems too damn difficult! But, who can blame them? The transition from Exchange to Office 365 can certainly not be taken lightly. So, if you are considering moving to Office 365 as well, follow these steps for a successful and efficient migration:
Determine a Suitable Migration Method
To ensure smooth migration to Office 365, the first step you should take is selecting an appropriate migration method. Typically, there are three methods for migrating: a cutover migration (designed for small business with less than 1,000 mailboxes in Exchange Server organisations), an IMAP migration (designed for medium-sized business in which mailboxes are migrated using a non-exchange mail system), and a hybrid migration (requires the Exchange admin to establish a connection between the Office 365 and Exchange Server).
Estimate the Time Required for Migration
Once you have determined the appropriate migration method, it is imperative you estimate the total amount of time required for completing the entire exchange process. If you are planning a hybrid migration, you can transfer users in batches. However, it is vital you don’t create large batches, as it takes an unreasonable amount of time for a single batch to be completed. For each step, it is important you estimate the total time commitment.
Look at Migration Infrastructure Requirements
All migration methods have different requirements. This means, if you are performing a staged migration, there are some infrastructure requirements you have to follow. This includes creating a server which runs Active Directory Federation Services (handles identity management between two environments which in this case: Exchange to Office 365). Not to be the bearer of bad news, but you might also need a migration server to smoothen the exchange process.
Confirm Your Organisation’s Readiness
Preparing for any migration can prove a complex undertaking. Before starting any process or step, ensure your organisation is ready and properly configured. Thankfully, Microsoft provides a tool called the Office 365 Health, Readiness and Connectivity Checks tool which you can use for assessing your organisation’s readiness via a quick check or a more comprehensive and time intensive ‘readiness’ check.
Don’t Forget About Assessing Client Readiness
After checking your organisational readiness, it is also vital to confirm client readiness. If you are planning to give your users access via the Outlook Web App to check their mailboxes, the process wouldn’t exactly be tough. However, if you plan to connect users and their mailboxes using Outlook, you will have to perform a time intensive and comprehensive software inventory check to make sure compatible versions of Outlook are used throughout your business. (Office 365 doesn’t support Outlook 2003).
Use the Right Tools for the Job
Finally, take advantage of any available tools to ensure a smooth migration process. Microsoft has provided some decent and downloaded tools for migrating Exchange Server to Office 365. This includes Microsoft Exchange Server Deployment Assistant, Office 365 Health, Readiness and Connectivity Checks tool, and many others.
So, if you want to migrate your Exchange mailboxes to Office 365, follow each of the abovementioned steps carefully and cautiously.