How to Move to Exchange Online: The Five-Phased Approach
1. Always Know Where Your Towel Is
- If you’re planning to use Outlook Web App (OWA), you need to have updated web browsers of at least current version, minus one
- You’ll need to setup service accounts for AD Connect and the Exchange migration. For AD Connect, you may want to consider a secondary server (like Directory Synchronization) rather than a server that’s already running essential services
- Depending on the migration tool you use, you may need a separate server to run the migration tool
- Because they don’t synchronize with Office 365 out-of-the-box, you will need to come up with a plan ahead of time if you are using third party directories like Lotus Domino or SAMBA
- Create a plan for migrating:
- Any data not on your current email server
- Any necessary compliance features, like archives, data loss prevention, rights management, etc.
- Public folders – here you’ll need a special migration tool or you’ll have to export all of them to PST
The setup phase absolutely needs to be done right if you’re hoping for a smooth migration. There are a lot of moving parts and each is equally imperative to the success of the migration. Here’s what you need to setup:
Item for Setup
Note from the Experts
|Office 365 tenant with all user accounts||When licensing your users, take into account what services you want to activate from the start and what may be better to launch down the road in order to not overwhelm the workforce. Try creating a special adoption plan.|
|Shared mailboxes, rooms, distribution lists and delegation permissions||Make sure there’s someone on the team who is proficient in PowerShell in order to script all of the new delegation permissions, especially if you have more than a few lists, rooms or shared mailboxes.|
|AD Connect to connect Active Directory||AD Connect has a certain number of fields required to sync with Office 365. If you have thousands of users and you’re missing those fields, you’ll need someone who is proficient.|
|A migraiton account for mail to move to Office 365||If you’re planning a hybrid migration you’ll need to obtain an SSL certificate for your hybrid Exchange server.|
|Porting of whitelist, blacklist and SPM filtering rules||Be sure to use the built-in auditing feature to verify your transport rules are working properly.|
|Configuration of email encryption services||Setting up this service is as easy as turning it on, but encryption rules are based on triggers that, depending on your business needs, can be extremely complex. Make sure you plan for these ahead of time!|
4. Migration Phase
You’re finally ready for the cut-over – sure it took a lot of planning to get here, but we promise it’s well worth it if you’re going to try this on your own. At this point, it’s as simple as running the migration to pull over mail, contacts and calendars, as well as changing your DNS records to point to Office 365 and verify a proper setup.
Prior to doing a full cut-over, consider running a pre-migration pilot group, that way you have the opportunity to run troubleshooting on any migration errors in a much smaller batch of users.
5. Post-Migration Phase
5. Post-Migration Phase
Just one more step and you’re done! Once the migration is complete, you’ll need to reconfigure end user phones and Outlook to point to Office 365 (make sure you plan ahead for this or you’ll have endless support tickets post-migration). From here you’ll need to work on integrations with any on-premise applications or services like Scan to Email or SMTP applications.
So it may not be a simple process, but if you’re meticulous about planning and take your time to consider how this migration will impact your business, end users and applications, you’ll be just fine. And if you don’t think this is something you could or should tackle on your own, consider working with a trusted partner instead.
Don’t forget: just because the migration is complete does not mean the job is done. With every great migration comes a great deal of responsibility – and by that we mean change management and training efforts for end users. Check out our adoption best practices.
We’ll help guide you.
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