Exchange to Office 365 Migration – Expectations and Real Challenges

Aftab Alam | Updated On - 30 Dec 2020 |

Read time 5 min

Cloud computing heavily influences modern business practices. We can easily assume that 2018 is the year of cloud. Every single day there is some news about new technology from the big cloud service providers like IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft. If organizations want to manage their emailing system on the cloud, then Office 365 is the best platform.

Office 365 is a cloud-based platform from Microsoft which include Microsoft Office suite, OneDrive, Skype for Business, SharePoint Online, Yammer, and much more.

It is a subscription-based service which you can select based on your usage and number of users. The best thing about Office 365 is that all the associated software in it are updated without any additional cost. Here are the plans which you can subscribe:

  • Personal: This plan works for a single user and includes all MS Office suite applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher, Access).
  • Home: This plan is suitable for a family as it supports 6 different users.
  • Business: This plan includes desktop versions of applications for up to 5 devices and users. It includes Exchange Online, SharePoint, and Lync Online.
  • Business Essentials: This plan is highly suitable for large organizations as it offers Exchange, SharePoint, and Microsoft Teams. It also offers online versions of Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote).
  • Business Premium: This plan combines services and applications in both Business and Business Essentials plans.
  • Midsize Business: It is a customized plan specially designed for an organization with 10-300 employees.

After selecting a suitable plan, your next step will be planning a migration process, and your IT Administrator will tell you that it is a quite complex process and you need to understand various aspects of the migration. Fortunately, there are various best practices which you can follow to ensure a smooth migration.

  1. Evaluate your current infrastructure

    Before starting the migration, you should evaluate your existing IT infrastructure. This will help you plan the infrastructure for the future environment. Microsoft provides a complete list of methodologies and practices you can follow to understand your current infrastructure.

  2. Estimate the time required to complete the migration

    While migrating data from Exchange to Office 365, you need to take care of the time required to complete the migration. A major factor affecting the speed the migration is the speed of the Internet as it slows down or speeds up the migration. If the migration is slow, you may not be able to work either on Exchange Server or Office 365 for a long period.

  3. Select the best migration method

    There are several migration methods provided by Microsoft which you can follow to execute your migration. For example, there are three types of native migration methods which you can use for the migration of mailboxes from the Exchange Server –

    • Cutover migration (One-time migration)

      You can run a cutover migration on Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016 versions. Here are a few things which you should remember before the migration –

      (a) You can migrate up to 2000 mailboxes in cutover migration, but it is advisable to migrate only up to 150 mailboxes.

      (b) The domain name of the source Exchange Server should be owned in the destination Office 365 platform.

      (c) After migrating users from Exchange to Office 365, you need to manually assign new credentials to the user.

    • Staged migration (Batch migration)

      During staged migration, you can create multiple batches of the mailbox and migrate them one by one. Staged migration supports only Exchange server 2007 and 2003 versions. You need to make the following changes in order to start the migration –

      (a) Configure your Exchange Server with Outlook Anywhere.

      (b) The user account you use to connect to Exchange Server should have the complete permission to access the mailboxes in Exchange. The same account you will use to connect Office 365 to the email system.

      (c) The domain name of the source Exchange server should be owned in the destination Office 365 platform.

    • Hybrid migration

      Hybrid migration is perfectly suitable with the latest Exchange versions. You should choose this method to migrate Exchange Server to Office 365 by setting up a hybrid configuration. The migration is performed from Exchange Administrator Center (EAC) in the following conditions –

      (a) You want the fastest migration.

      (b) You are using Exchange 2010, 2013, and 2016.

  4. Run several test migrations

    Before starting the actual migration, you should run trial migrations multiple times by migrating different kinds of data. It will help you get idea about how the actual migration will work and what data can be migrated easily. It will help you figure out the possible outcome and the impediments.

  5. Use the appropriate tools for migration

    There are several tools to facilitate quick Office 365 migration. You should get complete information about such tools while preparing for the migration.

If you want to migrate Exchange data to Office 365, then you can choose Kernel Migrator for Exchange which is the best Exchange migration tool for Exchange Server. It can migrate an unlimited number of mailboxes in a single cycle. There are multiple filters which enable you to migrate the desired data only. Also, you can easily schedule to run the migration at any desired time.

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After getting complete information about Exchange to Office 365 migration, you can start the migration. But you will also understand that it is not an easy process, and there can be numerous challenges, risks, and failures in your path. And with the help of professional Office 365 migration tools, you can simplify the migration considerably.