How and when should an Exchange-to-Office 365 migration occur?

How and when should an Exchange-to-Office 365 migration occur?

Unlike birds, small- and medium-sized businesses rarely know -- if ever -- exactly when a migration should occur. Often, business owners question the benefits and importance of migrating from Exchange to Office 365, and because of the back-and-forth, no progress is made. In today’s modern and highly-competitive business environment, it’s crucial to get a leg up on the competition, and embracing new technological advancements is a good start.

“But there’s nothing wrong with Exchange -- why should I change?” would be the thought stuck on repeat among business owners contemplating a migration. It’s their responsibility to do what’s best for their company, so would it be wise to take a chance on something unfamiliar? But like the debut of many technological innovations, it's more about key improvements built on top of older versions -- Office 365 is no different.

Despite Office 365’s growing popularity, some businesses have yet to move their on-premises Exchange server to Microsoft’s Cloud. The extended support for Exchange 2007 is inevitably going to end in 2017, meaning that it’s best for small- and medium-sized businesses to get on the train before it leaves the station.

Migration scenarios
First of all, Office 365 has storage limits that need to be taken into consideration. All mailbox types, including public folders and shared mailboxes, can store up to 50GB of data. If there are public folders or mailboxes that exceed the limit in your organization, some content will need to be archived.

Secondly, moving to Office 365 requires the source and target environment to be thoroughly prepared before the migration process can be started. Here are the four possible scenarios:

  • Cutover Migration - mailboxes are moved based on a “cut and paste” model in one go, and transitioned without changes into the cloud. Microsoft emphasizes that although this method enables you to migrate up to 2,000 mailboxes, exceeding 150 isn't recommended. This way, administrators can ensure better stability and reduce the risk of many errors.
  • Office 365 Import Service - although this Exchange 2003 and 2007 service allows you to enable directory synchronization and to gradually move batches over time, it is not recommended as a long-term solution for syncing between the source and target server. Mailboxes are moved in multiple batches -- ideal for those with more than 150 mailboxes.
  • Hybrid deployment - this process provides a mixed environment in which central management of both Office 365 and on-premises Exchange users is possible. Hybrid migration requires Active Directory synchronization between source and target server, which allows mailboxes to be recreated in the cloud, along with users’ credentials.
  • Office 365 Import Service - during migration, items are exported from source server to Outlook’s PST format and then uploaded to a target server using the built-in Office 365 Import Service. For databases of 10TB and more, it’s recommended to ship hard drives containing PST files to them instead of importing over the network, to speed up the process.

Servers and maintenance
Not only is Office 365 available in the cloud, it is also integrable with your company's on-Premises solutions if needed. As long as you aren’t constrained by stringent data regulations, the benefits of working in the cloud is the preferable option, especially when it comes to cutting back on the costs of maintaining local servers. Office 365's Trust Center also keeps your data safe at all times.

Office 365 operates on a "pay-as-you-go" system. This means you can pay for any additional services and data storage you need as your organization grows. For example, with OneDrive for Business, you receive a huge amount of storage space without having to break the bank. No more headaches over buying new hard drive or storage space ever again.

You no longer need to be at the office to access company data and applications to stay productive. Office 365 allows employees to work from smartphones, tablets, and laptops and is backed up by comprehensive security measures.

It’s important to embrace new technological innovations, not only to survive the highly-competitive business environment, but to thrive within it. Allow Complete Technology to help your business leverage IT and be the best it can be. For further information, feel free to call or email us anytime!

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