Migrating to Microsoft Office 365 from an on-prem environment can deliver significant benefits for organizations. The transition to the cloud levels the playing field for companies of all sizes because it gives businesses the ability to leverage cloud versions of multiple Microsoft products, without the hassle and cost of buying, configuring and managing servers in-house. Instead, the administrative burden is shifted primarily to Microsoft and the cloud. Programs like Microsoft Exchange Server, SharePoint, Skype for Business and access to programs such as Word, Outlook, OneNote, Excel, Publisher, and PowerPoint are available to users anytime and from anywhere. With this capability, subscribers can synchronize documents working on different platforms. If users have a Microsoft Office 365 subscription, a computer, laptop or mobile phone, and an internet connection, they have instant access to all the tools they need to do their jobs. These capabilities give organizations and users the extreme flexibility to access applications whenever and wherever they are working from, ultimately powering greater collaboration and productivity across the business. With so many different products in the Microsoft Office 365 suite, the challenge becomes successfully managing the migration process to the cloud while avoiding unexpected downtime, loss in productivity or extra stress on already-stretched internal IT teams. Communication and planning are keys to ensuring a smooth transition to Office 365. Business leaders and IT need to efficiently communicate with users about what to expect during the transition, prepare a detailed transition plan and have the right Microsoft support options in place before converting. Before taking the leap, keep these and other top considerations in mind before starting your journey to Office 365.
- There are hybrid deployment prerequisites- The truth is that when considering Office 365, it’s rarely all or nothing proposition. Most organizations want the ability to host some Microsoft instances in the cloud for mobile workers, as well as have the ability to run some on-premise for those working on site. An example of this might include mixing on-premises Exchange mail use with Office 365. The good news? A hybrid solution is possible! The bad news is hybrid architectures can be challenging to set up, and there are hybrid configuration prerequisites. (Source: Microsoft). If a hybrid cloud option still sounds appealing, it’s also essential to consider things like identity management and security policies for both on-prem and cloud applications. Office 365 hybrid options generally make sense for large-scale organizations that have thousands of users or for companies that are working on a staged migration. For some companies, it’s also pertinent to integrate cloud platforms and services with existing on-premises infrastructure as part of the overall IT strategy.
- Archiving email can be tricky- Just starting the conversation with Microsoft Outlook users about migrating to a new email platform can cause anxiety. People can’t afford to lose archived or non-archived emails. It’s simply not an option. The challenge is that most on-premises legacy archive solutions used for email migration efforts don’t work with Office 365. While there are exceptions, using exporting capabilities, for example, those applications can be extremely slow and tedious. When talking about terabytes of data, the process can be time-consuming and a daunting project.
- Network speeds can significantly affect migration velocity- Before starting on an Office 365 transition plan, organizations should identify their maximum available network capacity. Because there are a myriad of factors that can affect network speeds and performance, this may take some digging. Microsoft suggests contacting your broadband provider to confirm allocated bandwidth and to get details about any restrictions. This could include the total amount of data that can be transferred in a specific period. They also suggest testing the flow of data from on-premises data source to the Microsoft datacenter gateway servers. Other activity happening on the network such as scheduled backups, data transfers, or archiving activities can also severely impact network capacity and as a result, the speed of transitioning to Office 365.
- Paying more for support up-front could end up costing you less- Finally, companies looking to streamline their transition to Office 365 should have adequate support plans in place first. While many large organizations opt for bigger support packages, sometimes small and mid-size organizations select limited Microsoft support options, hoping to save money. This strategy can sometimes backfire if something goes wrong like importing data into Exchange Web Services (EWS), for instance. How much would an email account outage affect your business? What if it happened for 4 hours, or even 4 days? Some risks aren’t worth taking. For those working on a hybrid approach, most recommend an Office 365 support plan that includes Azure Active Directory synchronization. (Source: Microsoft).