In June 2011, Microsoft announced the launch of Office 365. As expected, it took the market by storm and has over the years emerged as one of the premier business productivity suites embraced by almost all major companies worldwide. While there are reasons aplenty to make an immediate switch over, the transition has never been easy for most. Corporates face a bunch of problems while adapting themselves with the Office 365 suite. These problems may vary from corporate to corporate as each one of them has a different set of systems for security and compliance requirements, hybrid prerequisites, legality, networks, etc.

However, before diving deeper into the Office 365 migration practices, we need to understand why many corporates are willing to adopt Office 365.

Why Organizations are Making a Beeline for Office 365

1. Lower Costs: Many corporates believe that a system for messaging and collaboration for meetings, tasks, etc. is less expensive to deploy and operate than simply hosting it on internal servers.

2. Costs are Predictable: If a messaging and collaboration system is hosted online, it tends to provide more predictable costs than internal deployments because the cost is on contract bases with the service providers.

3. Capex to Opex: Managing expenditure is one of the most tedious tasks for any corporate. With the Office 365 suite, the expenditure is shifted from a capital expenditure (CAPEX) system to an operating expenditure (OPEX) system. It drastically eradicates the substantial deploying costs related to up-front hardware, software, and labor costs and helps in saving taxes.

4. Reduced Opportunity Costs: An on-premises deployment of messaging and collaborating tools is an invitation to an entire IT team, including employing candidates and retaining them. With the cloud-based Office 365 suite, the opportunity costs are reduced significantly.

5. Mobility: Since Office 365 is hosted on cloud, it gives freedom to the employees to gain access and collaborate with the teams from any corner of the world at any time. This is a major boost to productivity.

Common Ways of Migrating to Office 365

There are multiple ways in which a corporate can migrate to Microsoft Office 365. It depends on company to company, according to their needs and demands. Here we have listed out all the possible ways of migration-

1. Hybrid: In this approach, we tend to shift internal system tools to the Office 365 cloud while retaining some systems on internal servers. Although almost every corporate tends to save an Active Directory Server and related settings for user-base management, using this approach, other tools for specific use cases can also be saved back on the internal servers for any period. For example, there might be a case that some SharePoint servers that are meant to just simply host the older content. Hence, Office 365 migration is not exactly a good idea as it will just enhance the associated costs and efforts and hence, are preferred to be saved on the internal servers.

On top of it, this approach might also be helpful for companies with strict privacy policies. For example, corporates with legality associated with email information will tend to maintain their emails on the internal servers indefinitely. You need to have more than 2,000 mailboxes if you’d like to use a hybrid migration. It is also recommended to have at least the Exchange 2010 version. In case you don’t have one, you must install at least one on-premises Exchange 2013 or Exchange 2010 Service Pack 3 (SP3) server to enable hybrid connectivity.

2. Complete Migration to Microsoft Office 365: In this approach, we move all the systems to Microsoft Office 365, saving nearly nothing on the internal servers. This is the “all-in” migration that involves the shift of all the data, processes, documents, and applications used under Office 365. This method enables the corporates to shift all the data that can be shifted into Office 365 and additionally replicate the applications and settings it needs to operate using the settings available in Microsoft Office 365. This process will be conducted as a series of the Hybrid Migration mentioned above, but will eventually target moving all the data out of the internal servers.

3. Staged Migration: This approach moves everything from the internal servers to Microsoft Office 365 in batches. It shifts all of the data, including mailboxes and existing users from Exchange 2003 or 2007 to Exchange Online. It’s usually preferred by medium-sized companies (deploying over 2,000 mailboxes) currently using the internal servers of Microsoft Exchange 2003 or 2007. It is not currently suitable for organizations using Exchange 2010 or 2013.

Read Also All That You Need to Know About Migrating Email and Contacts to Microsoft 365

Challenges of migrating to Office 365

  1. Planning the migration

Businesses need to plan the migration well in advance. Moreover, personnel steering the migration must have ample knowledge of SharePoint. The speed of migration depends on factors such as how much downtime the business can afford and complexity of migration. Also, for the migration to be efficient, understanding the inventory and evaluating the assets is critical.

  1. Insufficient bandwidth

Businesses that function round the clock will face an issue of insufficient bandwidth. Migrating data to Office 365 consumes vast amounts of data which leads to downtime. This prolongs the migration process. Even if you choose to schedule it, insufficient bandwidth will lead to delays.

  1. Security concerns

Security is one of the top concerns for any business. It becomes even more important during Office 365 migration services. Unless proper measures are taken chances of data leak is always high..

Best Practices for office 365 Migration

Analyzing the Security and Compatibility Requirements

While planning a company’s migration to Microsoft Office 365, it is really important to assess how well does Office 365 suite satisfies the requirements of the company. Certain points need to be taken into consideration before opting for migration.

• Email Security Requirements

There are multiple types of Email security, including virus screening, malware identification, spam screening, prevention of data loss, etc. All organizations usually have a set of policies defining the threshold for these security features. Hence, it is really important to check whether Office 365 fits in those requirements or not. Office 365 integration provides email security, including anti-malware, anti-virus, and anti-spam.

• Compliance Requirements

Many companies or even government policies define the rules for the data that any company can hold or use. For example, the United States has specific laws for data management in different domains like healthcare, tech, etc.

Although Microsoft has tried to incorporate dynamic compliance features into Office 365, including HIPAA Business Associate Agreements, EU Safe Harbor, etc., some compliance capabilities are not covered in the Office 365 integration. Other compliance issues might be related to cloud storage. Companies need to make sure that they are not breaking any ownership laws or agreements with their clients or the government.

• Archiving Requirements

The archiving requirements of any company depend on the domain they are working, their client-side, etc. These are not defined exactly by Office 365 setup but must be fully satisfied by Office 365 suit if the company wants to depend entirely on it. Many third-party archiving players offer certain plans to Office 365, that helps companies to continue using old archiving tools and approaches after shifting to Office 365. For example, if a company requires an archiving system that is not currently available in the Office 365 setup like batch search, and broader support for indexed file types – they should consider opting for a third-party cloud-based or internal server-based archiving system to be used with Office 365.

• eDiscovery Requirements

Companies handle a large amount of data everyday and need to search and find documents very frequently. Hence, they need an efficient e-discovery and indexing platform. Example situations can be litigation Early Assessment, information requests, internal investigations, etc. Office 365 has incorporated some eDiscovery capabilities in their suite, but they are still very limited in matching the expectations of every corporate.

• Disaster Recovery Requirements

Although Office 365 has been developed to perform in a highly efficient and problem-free way, it is still not good enough to eradicate all the possibilities of failure. Tools like Email, messaging, and collaboration are the pillars of any company on which they blind fondly rely. Hence, most of the corporates opting for Office 365 are recommended to opt for some third-party services available to enhance the disaster recovery capabilities.

• Backup Requirements

Although there is an automatic system to back up the data in Microsoft Office 365, corporates may want to keep a separate backup as a part of their policy or just for satisfaction. Hence, they can either opt for a Hybrid migration or any third party backup plan that is available in the market.

Getting ready with the internal requirements and setup required for the migration process.

There is some planning that any corporation has to do to efficiently carry out the migration process. Some of the important steps recommended are-

• Active Directory

Having an Active Directory on the internal server is a must. This is utilized for shifting and handing user accounts during the migration process. It also helps in single sign-on for employees using which they can access both on-premises servers and Office 365 services.

• Pre-Migration Upgrades

It is highly recommended that the company upgrade to the latest Exchange Server, Sharepoint, etc. Shifting from an older server to Office 365 directly may cause unexpected problems. This makes the Exchange migration to Office 365 easier.

• Internet Capacity

Office 365 is all cloud. Hence, the company must have an efficient internet connection with sufficient data limits and bandwidth to smoothen the migration process.

Migrate Email to Office 365 using IMAP(Internet Message Access Protocol)

It is commonly observed that corporates prefer using other emailing services like Gmail for their daily use. The three migration methods we mentioned above, depend solely on the Exchange server, which makes it difficult to migrate the mailing system separately. An IMAP migration helps the corporate shift users from third-party email services like Gmail, Zoho, etc. that support the IMAP framework.

An IMAP migration extracts data from the third-party mailboxes and transfer it to Office 365 setup. Although IMAP migration shifts all the data related to emails; calendar items, tasks, contacts, etc. are not supported by the IMAP shift. This data requires manual intervention to shift it efficiently onto the Office 365 server.

On top of it, the above three mentioned methods don’t create the mailing accounts of all the employees automatically. However, with IMAP migration, the company doesn’t have to worry about creating each account manually.

Corporates can shift up to 5,000,000 items and 50,000 total mailboxes using IMAP migration. Once the IMAP migration is complete, any mail sent to the older system won’t be migrated again. While these form the basics, there are several other points to keep in mind as well while Migrating Email and Contacts to Microsoft 365

G-Suite Migration

Many corporates have got comfortable with the popular Google Suite for Office. But, when the demand for productivity grows, G Suite isn’t sufficient to cater to employees’ needs. On top of it, Google doesn’t match the quality of Microsoft Office 365 support. Hence, while migrating from G-Suite to Office 365, there are some crucial steps that we need to take.

1. Setting Up Office 365 Apps: Before we start the migration from G-Suite to Office 365, it is really important to set up all the apps corresponding to the tools that the corporate might have been used in G-Suite. This will smoothen the process and avoid any unpredictable errors.

2. Migrate Email to Office 365: The migration from Gmail to Outlook in Office 365 can be easily performed using IMAP migration, as discussed above. Gmail supports IMAP framework and will easily migrate all the accounts and the corresponding data to Outlook. IMAP migration can also allow the company to opt for Office 365 email encryption setup for better security.

3. Storage Migration: The migration of data from Google Drive to Onedrive can be a tedious task. Shifting every employee’s data will take a lot of time. Hence, it is usually recommended that the corporate should opt for multiple third-party players available that have expertise in storage migrations.

4. Installing apps: After all the data is transferred, it is really important to set up all the respective apps and their corresponding accounts in the Office 365 environment. Office 365 has provided excellent support for importing different kinds of data for an easy set.

Who we are and what makes us an Industry Authority?

Flatworld Edge, a subsidiary of Flatworld Solutions, is an ISO certified global company that offers Outsourcing Services to support technology needs and equip and enable businesses to build efficient products and services. As Office 365 migration services experts, we deliver services ranging from implementation and migration to upgrades and support. With over thousands of customers and millions of dollars client revenue in our portfolio we are one of the fastest growing technology company in the world.