Office 365 Email Migration: A Rare Opportunity to Archive and Improve

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Stop to ask yourself why you’re migrating your email from your old Microsoft Exchange Server to Office 365. Beyond the financial advantages of not having to maintain and manage the server, perhaps it was at least in part because email just seemed slower than it used to be?

If you asked your IT department, they might tell you that it was, at least in part, because the Exchange Message Store, the file that contains all the email and everything else you do on Exchange, is getting bloated. They might even share their concern that the larger an Exchange Message Store gets, the more vulnerable it seems to corruption.

Right Back Where You Started

But you’re migrating away from that bloated old server to Office 365, and we all know that most every migration represents a great opportunity! We’re casting out the old and bringing in the new. Well, not always…

The fact is that most of us take on a migration, and our primary goal is to get it done with minimal downtime or disruption. Often, we don’t consider what we could do to make our lives easier in the future and thereby pass up those opportunities.

It’s possible that after moving all that Exchange data to Office 365, you find yourself back where you started because you’re still dealing with the same enormous volume of data in the new Office 365 Exchange Message Store that you had in the old one on your server!

Users Hate to Delete Anything

If you’re like many companies, you’ve been on the same Exchange Server for a long time, many years, perhaps even a decade… or more! And you can bet that some of your users who’ve been in the company for all that time have emails dating back to day one.

If you asked them why they have such old emails, many may tell you, “Oh, I just like to keep everything, just in case.” You might trip over the boxes and piles of files arranged around their desks as you visit them to ask. Be careful where you step.

Seriously, though, if you checked to see the last time they accessed any of those aged emails, it should come as no surprise that they haven’t for years.

Users hoarding old email is not the only contributor to the email data glut. Over the years, duplicate accounts get created accidentally. Accounts for people who left over a decade ago remain active and available. Years of junk mail accumulate in these. Some users have tens of thousands of messages in their inbox. Others have a “To Be Filed” folder that could sink a server. Most email systems have a policy that says email only needs to be archived and available for 7 to 10 years. Still, far older messages and files remain.

OnLine, NearLine, and OffLine

Your migration to Office 365 Exchange Online is a great opportunity to rid yourself of all of that excess ballast in your primary Exchange Message Store that costs you storage space to keep, time to process and reprocess, expense to backup and inevitably frustration when it contributes to Message Store corruption.

Every migration should begin with an assessment of where you’re starting and where you want to end up, and any email migration will deliver more value and benefit if you take the time to separate the data into that which must be kept online, near-line, and off-line. Here’s how to evaluate each:

• On-line data must be kept immediately available in online storage. In the case of email, that means it migrates to the new Exchange Message Store. • Near-line data should be available without too much difficulty. This data can be migrated to a storage archive that is easily searchable. • Off-line data is usually ancient and is seldom needed for anything. You should literally delete these data if they’re beyond your corporate retention policy, but they can also be committed to media such as tape or DVD and tucked away in a file cabinet somewhere.

The data you identify as near-line or off-line will very likely amount to way more than two-thirds of the data you’re currently maintaining. That kind of reduction means you’ll be off to a fresh start when your Office 365 migration is complete.

The Agile Advantage

Agile IT has worked with many clients to help assess their data and dramatically reduce the size of their Exchange Message Store while migrating them to Office 365. The result is better performance, happier and more productive users and a far more successful transition. Contact us today about your current email environment, and discover the benefits of a leaner Message Store!