Ensuring a successful, smooth, and secure migration to Office 365 or Microsoft 365 is always a challenge as there are a lot of things that could go wrong during and post migration. However, if you plan everything beforehand and gather all the resources needed, then you can smoothly and successfully be able to migrate to Office 365. In this comprehensive guide, we will be explaining the detailed steps that you can follow for a smooth and secure migration to Office 365.
Steps to Follow for a Smooth and Secure Microsoft 365 Migration
Let’s start with the pre-migration preparation.
Migration Preparation Work
Identification of the stakeholders is the first task for this project. You need to identify all the stakeholders and teams who will be involved in this project. This is crucial for the success of the project.
You can create a team who will be responsible for overseeing the entire project and ensures that the communication between the teams is in place and clear. Such a team would have the plan of the teams, responsibilities, and acts as a mediator between the teams and the stakeholders.
After deciding the team, organize brain storming sessions to define the migration goals which will be in sync with the business requirements. Once this is done, an estimated budget needs to be allocated to this project from the business.
Next, you need to assess and evaluate the current servers. This would include a thorough investigation of the hardware, software, and network configurations. Make sure that all the documentation is in place and updated.
You need to also inform the users about this big change. An email needs to be sent to all the users informing them that the company will be migrating to a new system to improve productivity and collaboration. In this email, the users will be informed about the estimated timeline of the migration process completion and a date for their training. A training session is essential to familiarize the users with the various features of the new system.
Planning and Configuration
After the preparation work, you can start the planning and configuration of the Office 365 tenant. You can create a list of mailboxes and their respective sizes after the infrastructure assessment. You can define the following:
- – Which mailboxes are needed
- – Which mailboxes can be converted to shared mailboxes
- – Which mailboxes need to be decommissioned
- – Which public folders need to be migrated
You will need to decide the estimated number of users which are needed on the Office 365 tenant. This will allow you to understand the users and business needs and have an exact estimate of the operational cost of the system.
You need to also choose the license depending on the needs. Here are some common plans available:
– Office 365 Business Basic – 50 GB mailbox with OneDrive.
– Office 365 Business Standard – 50 GB mailbox with OneDrive, Office installation, and 50 GB archive mailbox.
– Office 365 Enterprise E3 – 100 GB mailbox with OneDrive, Office installation for PC and RDS servers, and unlimited archive mailbox. Once this is done, you need to create the tenant in Office 365 and ensure that the domain is confirmed with the DNS or other confirmation methods, user roles are created, and the global admins are set and secured with multifactor authentication (MFA). Next, create the users and setup the multifactor authentication (MFA) on them. You need to send an email to the users with the access address for Office 365, their login details (email address and temporary password), instructions on how to install Office 365 applications, and how to setup the multifactor authentication.
Choose the Migration Method
Data migration is the most important task as you need to ensure that no data is lost or left back. Depending on the size or the business needs, you can choose from the following methods.
Hybrid Migration is the smoothest migration method that you can use from the native tools. However, it is also the most complex and lengthy one. In hybrid migration, the local Exchange Server and the Office 365 tenant work as one Exchange Server and you can slowly migrate the mailboxes from local server to the cloud (Office 365). Once ready, you can complete the migration, point the MX records to the Office 365, and decommission the server. However, moving public folders is a more complex process as you need scripting, which is not possible to do from the Exchange Server interface.
In cutover migration, the MX records are pointed immediately to the Office 365 tenant. The data migration happens afterwards. The data is exported using the New-MailboxExportRequest command or via the Exchange Admin Center (EAC). This method is lengthy as you need to export all the data and then upload/import it using the PST Upload method. Though this is the fastest way to migrate services, the upload of the data can be a bit tricky as first you need to export all the data, upload it to a temporary blob storage, and then use a CSV file to manually map the PST files to the mailboxes. In this method, you cannot migrate to public folders. You need to do it manually using Outlook.
Third-Party Migration Tool
There are various third-party EDB to PST Converter tools that can help reduce the investment and resource needed for the migration. However, you need to look for the best tool in the market and which is highly recommended by MVPs and experts. One such tool is Stellar Converter for EDB. This tool can help you to easily, quickly, and securely migrate the data from on-premises Exchange Server database to Office 365. With this tool, you can open live or offline Exchange Server databases from any version and of any size. You can export the EDB data directly to Office 365 with automatic mailbox matching. It can export all the data from Exchange database, including user mailboxes, archives, shared mailboxes, disabled mailboxes, and even public folders with ease and no complexity. After the migration is complete, you can simply decommission the server with confidence as all your data has been securely migrated with no issues. This tool can help in drastically reducing the administrative efforts, complexity, and resources required.
Once you’ve decided the migration method and informed the users and stakeholders, you can perform the migration preferably on a weekend to ensure right propagation of the DNS and to get enough time to test and verify the migration. The migration will be successful if you’ve all things in place. Selecting the right data migration method or tool is crucial to ensure no data loss and for the peace of mind.