For a growing number of businesses, switching to Microsoft Office 365 is pretty much a no-brainer. Subscribing to a suite of always-up-to-date cloud-based versions of familiar communications and productivity software is cost effective, easier to manage, and automatically preserves your data offsite. (Although you should still make a separate backup.) There’s just one problem: you have to migrate your existing data into Office 365.
If you’re like most organizations, you and your colleagues live and die by your email and calendar. It is your primary source of communication both inside your organization and externally with vendors, partners, and customers, as well as how you organize your day-to-day schedule. Understandably, no one wants to be without access to their email, calendar, contacts or tasks.
Migrating that data to a new platform inherently introduces the risk that something could go wrong, whether it’s an outage or an actual data loss.
Here are some things to consider when planning to migrate to Office 365.
What to Migrate
There is much more to your standard email than just accessing messages. Whether you currently use an on-premise Exchange server, Windows Server Essentials (formerly Small Business Server), or hosted POP3, IMAP email (like Gmail), you and your colleagues have almost certainly used some features and settings that customize the experience to your liking.
When you migrate to Office 365, no one wants to start from a completely blank slate. Here’s a complete list of everything that you likely need to migrate:
- Data Journal
- Alias/Distribution Groups
- Public Folders
- Public Folder Permissions
- Mailboxes (both shared and individual)
- Email Categories
- Folder & Calendar Permissions
- Mailbox Full Access Permission
- Meeting Invite Integrity/Status
- Outlook Profile
- Additional Offline PSTs
- Address Autocomplete
- Signature Block
It’s quite a lot, isn’t it? And to varying degrees, it all matters. The more you can smoothly migrate all of this data to Office 365, the fewer headaches and angry colleagues you will have.
Stage the Migration
To minimize risks, staging the entire process in multiple phases will give you an opportunity to fix errors before the final cutover. A little planning and mapping out a methodical process goes a long way.
Some of the data you will need to migrate resides on a server, whether it’s on-premise or in cloud. But some of the data types on the list above are actually on users’ computers, inside the client software (like Outlook) they use to access and manage email. Signatures, rules, offline email data all need to get migrated as well, so users can immediately get back to work with Office 365.
Manually moving client-side data, settings and profiles is time consuming and opens up the possibility for errors. Automating the migration using one of many tools that exist will help, but you still need to closely manage it to ensure it all switches over correctly.
Here are three important considerations:
Analyze and audit your current email environment to get a complete picture of what configurations will be necessary.
Some tools help you synchronize your data before, during, and after the cutover. By ensuring the information is stored in two places simultaneously, you greatly reduce any risks.
To finalize the migration, you will need to get your colleagues’ desktop ready. Migrating this takes additional planning, but retaining users’ customized settings—things like autocomplete, signatures, and Outlook profiles—helps smooth the way for more people to adopt your new Office 365 without complaint.
Migrate to Office 365 with Confidence
Your company’s email, calendar and contacts are far too important to lose.
For a lot of businesses seeking simpler, more secure and easier to maintain email, moving to Office 365 has proven to be a great choice. But the migration process can seem daunting.
If you would like further advice or assistance making your Office 365 migration a success, get in touch with us. We have experience managing data migrations for companies of all sizes.