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Office 365 Migration Strategies

In Part 1 of this series, we highlighted the benefits of the Microsoft Office 365 Software + Services delivery model over the SaaS model. In Part 2, we took a deeper look at the business case for Office 365. Now, it’s time to take a look at some of the challenges of migrating to Office 365 and how you can mitigate these issues to protect your ROI.

Deciding what to migrate first

This is the toughest focus for many organizations. Do you start with the biggest challenges, e.g., moving to Exchange Online from Exchange Server? Or, do you migrate simpler applications such as the core productivity tools first to get everyone accustomed to using an online solution? Or, maybe the right thing to do is to address document management issues using SharePoint Online.

The challenge isn’t so much about what to do first, as it is about setting realistic expectations about the amount and pace of change that will be required. When these expectations aren’t set properly, implementations can stall. The organization ends up with a hybrid solution, but only because the project ran out of steam, not because it was the planned configuration. This can undermine the ROI of an Office 365 implementation because it requires duplicative infrastructure you wouldn’t otherwise need.

Creating the right hybrid

There are many valid business reasons for taking a hybrid approach. The most common is compliance and security. That’s not to say that a cloud-based solution can’t be compliant or secure. In fact, in some cases, it is easier (and often less expensive) to comply with standards in the cloud than in an on-premises implementation. However, every situation is different, and you’ll need to consider compliance and security when determining the best configuration for your organization.

For many businesses, this configuration is a hybrid solution that splits an application such as email across the cloud and on-premises infrastructure. This often requires additional expertise to set up properly. For example, in the case of email, you will need to use both Exchange Server and Exchange Server Online, setting them up so that they replicate seamlessly without impacting the user experience.  If this is your IT department’s first foray into a cloud environment, you may want to reach out for 3rd party expertise as it is one of the more challenging hybrid scenarios.

Setting realistic migration expectations

If you have a lot of data, it will take time to migrate, and availability requirements must play a role in your migration planning.  This is another area where including someone, either internal or 3rd party, with prior migration experience can help. They can help you assess the amount of data that will need to be migrated and create a realistic migration schedule. And, of course, once you have a migration plan in place, you will need to set expectations with users so there are no unpleasant surprises.

Establishing security measures

The myth of the cloud being less secure than an on-premises implementation has been pretty well debunked. Cloud applications like Office 365 have numerous built-in security measures, and the data centers housing these applications are staffed 24X7 by top-notch security experts. For more details on security, visit Microsoft’s Office 365 Trust Center.

However, there are new precautions that you might want to take with a cloud deployment that you did not have to think about before. As we mentioned in Part 1 of this series, some of the Office 365 plans are great for companies with mobile users. But with all those devices out in the field, you may want to establish additional security precautions that monitor who is logging in using what device and from where. Mobile devices can be easily lost or stolen, and an unusual behavior pattern may be the first sign of an attempted breach.

Setting up policies

These days, almost every mid sized organization has some sort of industry regulation, compliance standard, or data management protocol they are required to follow. Most do not preclude an organization from using the cloud, but you need to set up Office 365 correctly. It’s not hard, but the little things, like setting up email retention parameters for users, can become confusing And, remember the human factor, too. It’s a good idea to publish policies for online data storage and access for users as well to ensure that everyone understands the proper protocols.

These are just a few of the more common challenges we see when organizations migrate to Office 365. If you’d like to discuss your particular situation, we always welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business.

Cloud computing. Simplified

TierPoint offers managed cloud services across public cloud platforms like Azure, private hosted clouds, and hybrid environments. For organizations migrating to Office 365, we offer a number of services including:

  • Initial environment assessment and performance recommendations
  • Consulting services for ensuring Office 365 is customized for your unique requirements, including compliance and security
  • Migration and deployment services
  • Architecting hybrid environments
  • Synchronizing Office 365 with on-premises Exchange
  • Configuration and monitoring
  • Automatic upgrades and maintenance
  • Real-time troubleshooting

 

Midd CarmackAs a Senior Product Manager, Midd is responsible for delivering key features to define and translate TierPoint’s cloud product strategy into innovative and compelling solutions. Midd brings over 20 years of IT infrastructure, operating system, database administration and product management experience to the TierPoint team.