Determining the Right Migration Strategy for Your Business
Before you begin your Office 365 deployment, you need to determine what migration model you’ll use. You need to consider the size of your company, timeline requirements and current infrastructure. Depending on your assessment, you’ll have three migration strategies to choose from:
Cutover migrations are great for small businesses, companies on a tight timeline, and those who aren’t currently on Exchange On-premise. These migrations allow you to move all users at one time, making cutovers much faster than other methods, lasting as little as a few days versus potentially several weeks. When you’re running a small business, migrating in one fell swoop is a safe option as fewer users leads to fewer chances for error. Additionally, small businesses often don’t have the internal resources required for other migration models.
Regardless of company size, cutovers can be tricky – you really need complete confidence that there are no flaws in your deployment plan and that you’ve thought through every step necessary, otherwise you risk deploying hundreds or thousands of users with any number of mistakes. This of course leads to an onslaught of support tickets from end users, potential downtime, loss in revenue and a disappointed leadership team.
For some added peace of mind, consider migrating with a staged or hybrid model.
Staged migrations give you the opportunity to migrate users in phases, perhaps by department, critical business units, or leadership levels, and is available from any email system. Moving in stages allows you to catch any potential migration errors while they affect small batches of users, rather than the entire organization.
Staged migrations are perfect for larger companies, especially those with affiliate companies or satellite offices. Moving in stages allows you to migrate specific regions or offices, based on need, volume and/or market, in an order that meets your business needs.
However, staged migrations can be just as tricky as cutovers. Because there is no rich co-existence between Google Apps, Zimbra, Lotus, etc. to Office 365, you need to consider all of your mailbox co-dependencies ahead of time.
If your CEO has an assistant who has a shared mailbox with the rest of leadership, which is accessible by certain managers and all processes tied to these are critical for completing daily tasks, you’ll need to make sure that entire group of people gets migrated at the same time. Because dependency maps can very quickly become intricate spider webs that continuously balloon, we tend to suggest that organizations deploy a hybrid model whenever possible.
As with staged migrations, the hybrid approach allows you to move users in batches. However, hybrid migrations are only available when moving from Exchange On-premise and you’ll need to meet certain requirements, including Exchange 2007 or newer, purchasing a certificate for a hybrid exchange server, and a separate hybrid exchange server (which require additional on-premise resources).
Hybrid servers and migrations have rich co-existence, which make this an excellent migration model. In a hybrid scenario, even if your CEO has been migrated and his assistant hasn’t, the assistant will still be able to manage his inbox and calendar and the Global Address List will still be unified with all users. Hybrid migrations allow for continuous productivity and uptime throughout the migration process.
There are of course unique scenarios within every business that may require one migration model over another, so the above situations may not apply to your needs. Either way, be sure to take a good look at your current infrastructure, understand your goals and what’s available to you, and take the time to craft a detailed deployment plan before getting started.
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