Office 365, We are doing it!…Now What Series: Migration Plan

Once your organization has made the decision to move to Office 365, many planning and execution strategies to ensure a successful migration must be considered. This “Now What” blog series will look at some less-technical aspects that enable a successful Office 365 journey. In this post, we’ll discuss what you need to focus on when developing your Subject Matter Experts (SME) and Migration Plan.

Subject Matter Experts

First, you’ll need to ensure your organization has the correct SMEs in its migration team. The SMEs include technical teams as well as business teams such as Network, Exchange, Active Directory, Information Security, Communication, Help Desk & Desktop support leads. These individuals will play an important role in decision making, user acceptance testing and execution of the entire project. It would also be beneficial to include a 3rd party integration partner, like Anexinet, that has the expertise to guide you through a successful migration.

Migration Plan

The development of a Migration plan is crucial to the overall strategy of any migration. A few things to keep in mind when developing a strategy are:

  • Stay within the budget
  • Maintain organizational security
  • Aim for a target completion date and most of all
  • Keep your users happy

Top 3 Office 365 Migration Strategies

Staged Exchange Migration

When developing a migration plan, an organization may take several approaches. One strategy—most commonly used by large organizations—is a “Staged Exchange Migration” or “Phased” migration. This strategy schedules the migration in “waves” based on the agreed timeline to complete the project. The timeline should be based upon the number of users and the amount of data that needs to be migrated.

As part of this strategy, always consider Shared/Resource Mailboxes when creating your migration waves. Migration waves may be categorized in many ways: by geographical location, by physical location, by department, or by mailbox size. Regardless of which method you use, always consider users who have access or mailbox delegation to a Shared/Resource Mailbox. As an example: Administrative assistants should be migrated with the individuals’ mailboxes they manage. The same goes for the “Accounting” team—regardless of their geographical or physical location. Those who have access to the “Accounting” mailbox should also be migrated in the same migration wave. This will not always be an easy task; however, it will alleviate issues and support calls during the coexistence period.

Cutover Exchange Migration

A second migration strategy is the “Cutover Exchange Migration.” This is good for small organizations looking for a fast migration cutover (over a single weekend). A cutover migration is recommended for organizations utilizing an on-premises Exchange Server 2003 (or later) or an on-premises Exchange with fewer than 2,000 mailboxes.

Hybrid Exchange Migration

The third option is a “Hybrid Exchange Migration.” This allows for long-term, cross-premises coexistence, in which your organization’s end state is both on-premises Exchange and Office 365. This approach may be required when some mailboxes or 3rd party applications that integrate with Exchange aren’t compatible with Office 365.

The Hybrid Exchange Migration approach allows the organization to keep a leg in the Exchange and Office 365 worlds, while also providing the capability to move a select number of users or departments at a time into Office 365, at a pace suited to the organization’s needs.

To utilize this approach, your organization will need to meet some specific requirements. First, you’ll need to setup, or have in place, a Hybrid Server that will host the connection between your on-premises Exchange Server and Office 365. You’ll also need to utilize Directory Synchronization (such as Azure AD Connect Sync), since a Hybrid configuration relies on this.
The strategy an organization chooses is totally dependent on its environment, priorities and culture. When determining its ideal Office 365 migration strategy, an organization must ask, “What is the best way to improve the performance of our data migration, optimize the migration pace, minimize downtime and achieve a positive user experience?

Please also be sure to review the offering details of the various Office 365 Licensing options available for your organization:  Which Office 365 License Do I Need?

Anexinet offers an Office 365 Migration Kickstart that accelerates your migration by equipping you with a readiness assessment, proof of concept, and roadmap.  And if you’re looking for something I haven’t mentioned here, know that Anexinet has the expertise, knowledge and skilled staff to achieve your goals and ensure your migration is successful. We’d love to help your organization on its journey through Office 365, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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For additional information on Office 365 migration methods, please refer to the following articles:

Staged Exchange Migration
Cutover Exchange Migration
Hybrid Exchange Migration
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