A Guide on Moving to Office 365 – Planning and Migration Explained

If you’re considering moving to Office 365, you should have a solid plan in place before you begin. Even though migrating has become somewhat easier than in the past, it’s still an extremely complex process that, without the right planning and execution, can quickly go sideways. 

Luckily, Coherence Inc. is here to help. We’ll guide you through the migration process, and help you avoid any potential pitfalls along the way.

Understand the Architecture of Office 365

If you and those in your organization have been using SharePoint or any other file share, you’re probably used to things a certain way. You will most likely be using a hierarchical approach for finding information.

On the other hand, Office 365 is built around Office 365 Groups. It is a very flat hierarchy for collaborating on information and files. All that is to say, is that moving to Office 365 will result in a substantial change in the way employees are used to working.

To get the most out of the move and the entire platform, for that matter, everyone in the organization should be trained in Office 365 Groups. They should also understand how they represent a different philosophy for using Microsoft tools.

Assess Your Current Environment

As per Microsoft’s recommendation, you should take stock of your environment, and try to list everything within it.

Starting with user accounts, list all employee email addresses and login credentials, even from former employees. While moving to Office 365, you’ll be able to decide which information to keep and which to remove, but at this stage, having all the information is key.

You should also include all mailboxes, and have their number and size information. Have the storage details and know what the locations of file shares are.

Before the migration, you should also have all information on network settings, application details, and communication platforms. 

Of course, one of the most crucial components to bring into your move has to be client data. Pull all client data like versions, specifications, and configurations, including browsers, applications, and OS.

Determine a Migration Strategy

When considering moving to Office 365, one of the biggest things to think about is the type of migration to do. The four most common types of migration include: Staged, Cutover, Hybrid, and IMAP.

Staged Migration

With a staged migration, users can migrate in batches of on-premise mailboxes to Office 365 or Microsoft 365 over a few weeks or months. This is a solid migration method for mid-sized companies that have over 2,000 mailboxes.

Cutover Migration

With cutover migration, the transition from an on-premise system to Office 365 is immediate. All resources that we previously listed get moved at once. However, with cutover migration, you can’t select specific objects to move. 

Currently, the cutover migration method is possibly the most popular one when it comes to migrating from Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2013. It’s also the best method for those with less than 2,000 mailboxes.

Hybrid Migration

With a hybrid migration, businesses can integrate Office 365 into existing directory services and on-premise Exchange servers. That means that users can manage and synchronize user data for both environments.

One standout benefit of a hybrid migration is that it can synchronize passwords from all current users and introduce the single sign-on process. Keep in mind that to be eligible for hybrid migration, a business has to have Exchange 2010 or a later version and over 2,000 mailboxes.

IMAP Migration

The Internet Message Access Protocol or IMAP migration method allows companies to transition users from Gmail or other types of mailing systems. With IMAP, you can pull all necessary information from source mailboxes and move it to Office 365.

That said, IMAP only works if you’re transitioning email and no other aspects of your previous environment. That means all tasks, calendar items, and client data will have to be manually migrated. What’s more, IMAP might not work for big organizations as it has a limit of five million items from a total of 50,000 mailboxes.

Prepare Your Environment

To ensure a smooth transition to a new environment, there has to be some prep work involved. First, you’re going to want to evaluate your current IT infrastructure and ensure its compatibility with Office 365. 

One factor that often gets overlooked is internet bandwidth even though it plays a key role in migration. Moving to Office 365 requires a reliable and fast internet connection that can support the company’s traffic.

The next step is to verify domain ownership, which means verifying that you own the domain that you plan on using with Office 365. After that, make sure to set up the Office 365 account and the subscription. You will also need to choose a plan that meets your organization’s needs.

Test the Migration

Before moving to Office 365, a good practice is to test the migration by doing something called a Pilot Migration. With this method, you can create a few test mailboxes and populate them with messages, calendars, tasks, and contacts. That way, you’ll be able to put the migration to the test and verify the outcome.

For accurate results, replicate the test mailboxes with the same type and amount of data as you have in the original mailboxes. Doing a pilot migration will provide you with an opportunity to learn about potential post-migration issues.

Begin the Migration

Once you have everything in place, it’s time to start migrating your data, following the well-laid-out plan. Also, consider that you will need to train your users on the systems and do continuous testing after the migration to ensure everything went off without a hitch.

How Coherence Inc. Can Help When Moving to Office 365

Moving to Office 365 from any environment is a daunting task that involves a lot of moving parts. That’s why it’s often best left to the pros like the ones from Coherence Inc.

Our team of dedicated migration experts can handle any move, no matter how big or small. Among our services, we offer Email, Tenant, G Suite, and Active Directory Migration.

With a proprietary migration checklist, custom tools, and proven processes, we have what it takes to carry out your project and guarantee the best results for you and your organization.

Get in touch with us today to learn more!