Office 365 Migration Explained: Benefits, Types, and More

How does an Office 365 migration work, what does it entail, and how to prepare for it? Keep reading to learn more!

Why Migrate Exchange to Office 365?

Businesses decide to migrate from Exchange to Office 365 for several factors, including cost-effectiveness and operational efficiency. Also, many feel the need to have a flexible and secure work environment, which is why they choose to migrate.

Unlike Exchange, Office 365 is a highly scalable solution, which makes it a good fit for large and small businesses. With its ability to add or remove user licenses, Office 365 provides business operational flexibility that Exchange Server setups, which are on-premises, can’t compare to.

Moreover, with Office 365, organizations can avoid the exorbitant upfront costs associated with hardware purchases. Not only that but they can keep the prices of ongoing maintenance and on-premise setups down. 

Office 365 is also more accessible compared to Exchange. It allows users to access their emails, calendars, and tasks from anywhere. Of course, they do need a stable internet connection, but little else other than that.

Finally, with built-in security features, users of Office 365 can have peace of mind that their sensitive data is protected. 

Benefits of Doing Office 365 Migration From Exchange

An Office 365 migration offers quite a few advantages compared to Microsoft Exchange, starting with the things we’ve listed above. That includes scalability, cost-efficiency, accessibility, and security. 

Another feature many users take advantage of is the automatic updates, which ensure access to the latest features and protection against most threats. There are also integrated productivity tools like Word, PowerPoint, Microsoft Teams, and more.

In addition to the productivity tools, Office 365 also offers disaster recovery. In the event of a disaster, all stored data remains protected in the cloud. 

Finally, Office 365 is designed with standards of industry compliance in mind. Organizations can take advantage of the tool to remain compliant with HIPAA, GDPR, and other regulatory requirements. 

Before the Office 365 Migration

Undertaking an Office 365 migration is a big step, no matter the size of an organization. Even though the transition can streamline access and improve maintenance, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. An Office 365 migration requires a lot of careful planning to avoid data loss and minimize downtime.

The first step is assessing the current environment, understanding the existing mail setup, and identifying the number of mailboxes and their size. What’s more, you should know which version of the Exchange server you’re using and check for unique features, like public folders.

The second step is planning the best migration method for your organization. The main options are cutover, staged, hybrid, and IMAP migration.

In the third step, you’re going to prepare your users and organizations for the migration by letting them know what to expect. Following that, you’re going to set up the Office 365 environment, purchase the necessary license, set up your tenant, and verify your domain in Office.

The next step is to prepare your exchange server by ensuring it’s configured correctly and ready for migration. That can include installing a trusted SSL certificate and configuring Outlook, as well as setting up necessary permissions.

Once you’ve prepared the exchange server, it’s time to work on preparing your network and mailboxes. Make sure your network can handle the migration and your mailboxes are cleared and ready.

Depending on the type of migration you’re planning, you might have to plan for coexistence between the Office 365 and on-premises Exchange. That can include configuring mail flow and setting up directory synchronization.

Finally, you will perform a pilot migration with a few mailboxes because it can help you identify any potential problems you might face ahead of time.

Types of Migration 

When planning your Office 365 migration, there are four types to consider.

Cutover Migration Batch

A cutover migration describes an immediate transition from an on-premises Exchange system to Office 365. With cutover migration, you can’t choose specific objects to migrate, as everything is done at once, including mailboxes, distribution groups, and contacts.

A cutover migration could be a good choice for those using Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, or who have less than 2,000 mailboxes. Microsoft recommends the cutover migration for small businesses with less than 150 users.

Staged Migration Batch

With a staged migration, you will be moving everything in batches, making it a good choice for medium-sized companies or those with over 2,000 mailboxes. A staged migration will move mailboxes over a predetermined period and require the use of the Directory Synchronisation tool. That tool will replicate your accounts from the on-premises Active Directory base. 

During a staged migration, users of Office 365 will be able to send and receive emails from users who still haven’t migrated. However, they will not be able to access their calendars and tasks.

Hybrid Migration

The hybrid migration allows users to synchronize and manage their user accounts for both on-premises Exchange servers, as well as Office 365. With this type of migration, users can choose which mailboxes they want to keep and which to move. What’s more, they can introduce a single sign-on system and password synchronization to ensure an easier login.

To carry out a hybrid migration, an organization needs to have more than 2,000 mailboxes and Exchange 2010 or later. 

IMAP Migration

The Internet Message Access Protocol or IMAP migration allows users to transition from Gmail to any other email system. It does so by pulling information from source mailboxes and handing it over to Office 365. 

However, it’s important to note that IMAP only transitions emails, which means that all tasks and contacts will remain in the original inbox and will have to be migrated manually. Also, IMAP migrations have a limit of 50,000 total mailboxes and 5 million items.

How Coherence Can Help With Your Office 365 Migration

An Office 365 migration is a daunting task and one that requires a lot of preparation, practice, and patience. It also requires a level of expertise that is usually best left to the pros.

At Coherence Inc., we offer complete migration services, including:

  • Exchange to Office 365
  • Office 365 Tenant-to-Tenant Migration
  • G Suite to Office 365
  • IMAP 
  • Gmail 
  • Office 365 to Office 365

With years of practical experience and the use of state-of-the-art tools, we can carry out a migration of any type and size. Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help your business!