Avoid Post Office 365 Migration Regret With These 7 Planning Tips

The road to Office 365 is fraught with unexpected cloud migration roadblocks. Without an experienced cloud consultant leading the charge, many businesses come away from an Office 365 migration with a long list of regrets. Whether your business is exploring a hybrid strategy or Office 365 migration, these tips can eliminate post-migration anguish and help you maximize your cloud investment faster.

1. Find a trusted Office 365 migration resource

While reading up on blogs can educate you on the migration process, it’s important to find an IT consultant with a proven track record to prepare you for what lies ahead. Having migrated more than one million users to Office 365, we’ve found that clients often have misaligned expectations going into the migration, so we take extra time educating them through the process.

When looking for step-by-step assistance in an Office 365 migration, Agile IT’s cloud consultants can design a budget-friendly yet effective migration strategy that makes sense for your business needs and budget. Most importantly, we set expectations from the get-go to eliminate unwelcome surprises along the way.

2. Understand the prerequisites for a hybrid migration

A hybrid Office 365 migration is a combination of an existing on-premises Exchange with Office 365 user accounts.  However, you may not be able to connect the two if the proper prerequisites are not setup.  A hybrid migration will work with Exchange versions 2007- 2013. For 2007 and 2010 versions, the Hybrid Configuration wizard requires one instance of Exchange 2013. Agile IT can help your business establish the correct prerequisites for a hybrid migration if in doubt.

3. Select a support plan based on your migration strategy and needs

Office 365 is available in a large selection of plans to meet different business needs. Office 365 Business Essentials and Office Business Premium are available for businesses with 300 users or less. Office 365 for Enterprise also has five different options.

Small businesses that use a hybrid migration need to ensure they select a plan that will support Azure Active Directory. All other plans support Azure AD and a hybrid migration. Office 365 plans for small businesses do not offer Azure support so hybrid migrations are not available. Make sure to consult an Agile IT consultant to find the right plan if choosing a hybrid environment.

4. Plan for data input restrictions

Exporting data is only half of migration; the other half is inputting the data into Office 365. Data import is the root cause of several issues with Exchange Web Services (EWS). EWS has issues importing up to 400 GB a day with a speed of about 250 MB per hour.

For large amounts of data files and inboxes, this can cause a migration to come to a snail’s pace or to a complete stop. Bandwidth may be an issue depending on the volume of data being pushed. Agile IT can help you consolidate data to hasten the data migration process along with solutions that won’t put a crunch on business operations.

5. Understand retention limits with Exchange Online

Retrieving messages is often difficult because Office 365 won’t retrieve messages past the retention limit (14 days) from the point the messages were deleted. The deleted item retention limit can be reset, though this can be difficult. Office 365 requires a connection to PowerShell remotely in order to make the retention limit change, but even then, the limit maxes out at 30 days. As long as your business is OK with the 30-day retention limit, there should be no issue.

6. Anticipate the cost of ad-hoc business apps

While Office 365 Business Premium includes the full Office suite available on mobile devices, email, calendars, conferencing, Skype for Business (now Microsoft Teams), Yammer and more, other apps are available at an additional cost. Some apps are free through the Windows store but others must be purchased separately.  Agile IT can help you understand exactly which services and apps are included and offer suggestions for additional apps which may require an additional fee.

7. Know that SharePoint Online differs from SharePoint Server

Because Exchange Online is comparable to on-premises Exchange, one might assume that SharePoint Online and Lync Online work the same as their on-premises versions. But there are some important differences you may not realize. For example, claims-based authentication may be your favorite feature in SharePoint Server, but it’s not available in SharePoint Online. Agile IT’s consultants can prepare you for any unexpected Office 365 migration.

At Agile IT, we’ve successfully migrated millions of mailboxes to Office 365 and know what to expect. If you need help planning your Office 365 migration, we can walk you through the process.

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