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For Cloud IT Success, Don't Assume that Office 365 Migration is Quick and Easy

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For Cloud IT Success, Don't Assume that Office 365 Migration is Quick and Easy

February 25, 2016
By Susan J. Campbell
TMCnet Contributing Editor

The decision to move to a new technology platform is never an easy one. In fact, it’s not uncommon for these decisions to be delayed, simply because we’re scared of the transition, the potential challenges, learning a new platform or the anticipated backlash from those it will affect. While cloud IT may make sense for the bottom line, there are still elements to the strategy that have to be fleshed out in order for the implementation process to be a success.

Migrating to Office 365 is no different. While many of us have used Microsoft (News - Alert) Office in one form or another, migrating to cloud IT is a change in the way we do business. There are parameters that we have to adhere to and challenges that could arise if we don’t have our ducks in a row, first. Still, there are small obstacles to overcome in order to start reaping the benefits that cloud-based technology can provide.

To that end, an InfoWorld piece explores the ‘gotchas’ in this type of deployment that are important to avoid in order to ensure success. The first suggestion is to not let migration chatter become migration confusion. There’s so much advice available on how to make the transition, it can be a challenge to know who to trust. Identify your expert source and stick to it throughout the process.

Next, don’t make unrealistic design decisions when debating between on-premise and the cloud. It’s not unreasonable to assume that you’ll be in a hybrid environment for a while during the migration period and one solution doesn’t fit all, so do your best to avoid that trap. When in that hybrid environment, make sure prerequisites are met or you may not be able to connect to Office 365 from your on-premises environment. If an update to Exchange 2013 is necessary for full support, make that change before going to the hybrid model.

Be sure you’ve selected the right support plan. All plans are not created equally. Larger organizations need to pay attention to the details and smaller companies requiring a hybrid approach must have a plan that supports Azure Active Directory synchronization. It’s critical that you understand support needs before pulling the trigger. At the same time, you need to have a strategy for legacy archive support when moving to the cloud. Without it – you’ll find your data is difficult to access.

Even as these challenges arise, it’s critical that you don’t stop during data import. This is a very real challenge as the bandwidth necessary to support this step is extensive. Look to third party options to assist in importing the data you need to help move the process along. This and other third-party add-ons can be essential, so don’t forget to figure the cost when estimating the entire project. It’s easy to get derailed when you run into surprises, so do your homework to the extent that surprises are minimal at best.

The last three things you need to keep in mind when seeking a successful migration to Office 365 are important to ensure you gain the most value out of this move to cloud IT: understand the limitations of Exchange online, especially in terms of message retrieval and the available workarounds; understand that SharePoint online is not exactly the same as SharePoint server, so it’s important to study the differences; and believing that Lync online equates to hassle-free telephony which is not at all the case.

The reality is there are a number of benefits to migrating to cloud IT in the form of Microsoft Office 365. To ensure the most successful migration, however, you have to understand where the challenges can arise and how to be prepared to overcome them for success. 

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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