Posted by John Alumbaugh
- Director of Consulting Services at CloudStrategies LLC
John oversees all services related client activities and is responsible for growing CloudStrategies consulting business. In addition to helping clients migrate from legacy infrastructure into modern cloud infrastructure, John is responsible for setting consulting business strategy, and is actively involved in day to day consulting with hybrid coexistence deployments. John is a US Navy Veteran with more than 20 years of IT infrastructure experience and is an all-around propeller head card-carrying gadget geek.
Lessons Learned for a Streamlined and Successful Migration to O365
Since our beginnings as a company, Cloud Strategies has focused solely on the Microsoft online experience, previously BPOS and now Office 365. Over the past few years there are a number of things we have learned that help to ensure a smooth transition to Office 365 and Exchange online. Many customers think that as long as they can move their mailboxes from point A to point B then the process is done. And while that is certainly the high-level goal, to accomplish this successfully it is almost always more complicated behind the scenes.
Speeding and Automating the Migration to Office 365
At Cloud Strategies we specialize in migrations to Office 365 and Exchange online. What we’ve learned through our years of experience is that speed and automation really matter. The faster you can complete the migration, and the more automated the process steps, the more likely you will deliver a successful project with a happy customer. To enable this automation and migration speed we have started using the E2E Complete product from Binary Tree
. They are the well-known experts in the mail migration market and we have already standardized on using their Notes to Exchange migration tool
. They bring quality products and expertise to the table, and it only makes sense that their professionalism and expertise translates into the Exchange-to-Exchange migration space as well.
Mail migrations from Exchange on-premises to Exchange Online can utilize the free mail transfer tool from Microsoft included with Office 365, but the inherent limitations often stop us and customers alike from utilizing the built-in tool. I want to start by saying that “if” your Exchange environment meets the requirements, the free tool can get you where you want to go, but often that’s not the case. The first issue is that the Office 365 migration tool works VERY differently from its BPOS counterpart. The new tool requires a totally manual process. It forces you to import user mapping via a spreadsheet, and if you accidently choose the wrong migration type (staged vs. cutover) undoing that mistake is not straightforward. Plus, you can’t easily schedule migrations of staged groups, and the transfer speed is not consistent, or at least not historically.
The thing I like least about the free tool is that RPC over HTTP must be active in your current Exchange environment for the tool to even connect. I personally don’t like having to spend time fixing the old mail system when we are migrating away of it, so unless RPC over HTTP is in place, I just prefer to save time and skip the free tool.
For the low overhead of adding another Virtual Machine to your hybrid setup, E2E Complete brings scheduling automation, tracking and reporting to your migration project, as well as integrated communications to the end users. As long as I have an Exchange 2010 server in the environment, (which is a hybrid coexistence requirement anyway) then I have all the PowerShell cmdlets that I need to make E2E Complete work to my advantage.
Even though you can schedule the mailbox moves with the coexistence server, the E2E Complete tool scheduler takes a lot of the manual work out of the process and allows much more user friendly batch migrations, making it a faster, easier, and smoother transition from on-premises Exchange to Office 365. Because of the added complexity of the hybrid coexistence environment, Cloud Strategies experience has been that the faster the customer gets out of coexistence, the happier they are with their move to the cloud. Most organizations are working on a razor thin IT staff and IT budget, and adding all the complexity that hybrid coexistence brings can be very frustrating. E2E Complete helps us get customers into the cloud faster so that they can reap the benefits of a simplified IT spend for email. For all future Cloud Strategies migration projects we have standardized on using the E2E Complete tool to help streamline and speed up the migration processing.