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Office 365 Migration Guide – What to know and when to move

Adam Willford
Adam Willford11.01.2017

Office 365 is one of those services that we’ve all heard about more and more, particularly over the last 12-24 months.  For most, it’s something to do with “that cloud thing” but for others, it’s an entire platform full of resources to enhance your business – ranging from a simple e-mail account to a full blown Sharepoint site, CRM, Azure and even Yammer, a private social networking site for your business.

The problem, is that there are so many services available, knowing how to migrate from your existing services and what services your business can/should use, is an absolute minefield.


office365-header.jpgE-mails are usually at the very core of any business, so downtime or issues during a migration process is never something you want.  At Vital, our main aim for any migration is to make it as smooth as possible for the customer themselves, so we have several tools we can use to best suit the business environment while not sending a massive bill to your door.

Skykick is a Cloud Management system for Partners, allowing us to fully automate your data from your on premise / hosted server, to the cloud.

Not only does this tool allow us to schedule the migration for a certain time in the future, therefore allowing us to schedule it with our clients, it gives us a certain percentage of how far that mailbox has migrated.  This overview is one of Vital’s favourite features, because it gives us the flexibility to adapt if the migration is going slower than expected. 

However; by far the best reason to use Skykick – and the reason we as a company originally started using it, is the client tool that gets installed on the user machine.  When the date and time is specified, this tool automatically configures EVERYTHING on the machine that’s needed. It makes the new Outlook profile, it sets the signatures to the way they were on the old account, it even moves over the dreaded NK2 file which holds the e-mail database (you know when you start typing an e-mail in the To: box and it appears with a list?  That’s very awkward to move these days and takes time.  This dramatically reduced the amount of time we have to spend on machines and in fact we only tend to send an engineer when the migration is happening as a “just in case” – usually they’ve left by 11am! 

office365-migration.pngThis goes hand-in-hand with another Microsoft product, “Active Directory Azure Sync”.  Once your mailboxes are all moved up – you need to be able to add the accounts to your mobile devices, access the account from a web browser if you’re out the office or a multitude of other things.  Now in a world full of internet services, each using different usernames/e-mails and passwords, the last thing you want is to have even more to remember.  Active Directory Azure Sync synchronises your password from your on-premise server, so what you use to log onto your PC with, to the cloud account.  This isn’t quite an SSO solution, but it is a completely free solution with a very large benefit. 

There are obviously other Office 365 migration options out there;

  • Cutover Migration
  • Remote Move Migration
  • Staged Migration
  • IMAP Migration

Cutover Migration:

A Cutover Migration is probably the most popular of migration methods that O365 offer.  This ensures that all on premise mailboxes are migrated straight to the cloud over the course of a few days.  All the mailboxes are migrated in a single batch.  There is no single sign-on included in this method, so your e-mail account and computer account passwords will not be synchronised.  A maximum of 2000 mailboxes can be migrated using this option. For anything over this, a Staged or Remote Migration should be used. 

Remote Move Migration:

A Remote Move Migration can be used for hybrid deployments, such as if you have some mailboxes on Office 365 already and want to move more from your on-premise server over a longer period of time.  User identity / synchronisation etc is still managed by the on-premise server. 

Staged Migration:

A staged migration is similar to a Cutover, except that rather than migrating all mailboxes at a single time – you can do batches over a large period of time.  This gives much more flexibility in when and how things will get pushed up to the cloud. 

IMAP Migration:

An IMAP migration is probably the least used migration option – however in some instances may be the only one available if you use a hosted e-mail system for instance, through 123 Reg/1&1 etc – as they will only allow the IMAP protocol in.  This causes some issues with clients who have been using this, albeit old, system perfectly fine for years.  IMAP is not a viable option for businesses these days, especially with Office 365 offering a single mailbox for just £2.50 per month.

Overall, there are several options you can go with for migrating to Office 365.  There are of course tools here that haven’t been mentioned.  However, why go off searching on your own when Vital have the experience, knowledge and tools to do the job for you?

For a FREE evaluation of the options for your migration, make contact with one of our specialists.

Request Your FREE Migration Review

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