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The constantly growing popularity of Microsoft’s cloud platform (Office 365) has persuaded many Exchange admins to switch over from their current environment to the cloud. But moving their on-premises Exchange Server to Office 365 is not at all an easy task with native options.
There are a number of native options (like cutover migration, hybrid migration, staged migration) available for the admins to move from their on-premises Exchange Server to Office 365. Express Migration, which is considered a better alternative to the cutover migration in small and medium organizations, is the latest entry to the list of native options.
According to Microsoft, there is no downtime for the users with Express Migration, as it allows mail flow continuity throughout the entire migration process. Express Migration is quick, and cost-effective.
Moving from Exchange Server to Exchange Online may sometimes become a headache for small businesses. Native options (like hybrid and cutover) usually demand complex infrastructure and server setups. But Express Migration perfectly suits the requirements of small and medium organizations, with many benefits like:
Use this method to migrate emails if you:
Before proceeding towards the migration process, make sure you’ve already signed up for Office 365 subscription and have a verified domain. The external domain name has to be added as an Alternative UPN suffix in ‘Active Directories Domains & Trusts’.
Use the following instructions to do so:
Doing this will ensure that your on-premises users are assigned their UPN suffix to their matching email domain name. In Active Directory Users & Computers, select properties, and click Account tab and provide the relevant domain name against the user logon name.
Get into the Admin Center of Office 365 portal, and navigate to Users, and then to Data Migration.
Make sure you’ve Exchange 2016, Exchange 2013, Exchange 2011 or SBS 2011, before downloading and executing Hybrid Configuration Wizard. This wizard helps you to establish hybrid deployment in on-premises Active directory. It also lets you define and configure various parameters for your hybrid deployment. To do this, it first creates the HybridConfiguration object and gather existing Exchange and Active Directory topology configuration data. You can also learn to create and configure a new hybrid deployment here.
To perform migration for small enterprises, select Office 365 Minimal Hybrid Configuration, and then select Synchronize users & password one time option to quickly move your user mailboxes (around 50 or less), without any fuzz. This will install Azure AD Connect for data migration and sync. Select the default Express settings and the synchronization to complete. Once you are done with the migration, you can manage the users with the following options.
Once Azure AD Connect has synchronized the mailbox users (with their passwords), then you have to assign Office 365 licenses to migrate their on-premises mailboxes.
After assigning the licenses, you can begin the mailbox migration, with the following steps:
Note: It is a good practice to run a migration test for two or three users, before migrating them all at once. It is advised to ensure that everything works perfectly as expected.
DNS record is useful for email systems to track where the emails have to be delivered. Now when migration of on-premises Exchange to Office 365 is completed, you’ve to finish setting up your DNS record as well.
Limitations of Express Migration
No doubt that Express Migration is a simplified migration method, but it does have certain limitations like:
The ‘Express’ method is not an ideal choice for bigger organizations as only one endpoint and a single batch migration would be a too time-consuming process for them. However, a third-party Exchange migration tool is a better alternative for larger organizations to recover Exchange databases and restore them to live Exchange and online Exchange portals.
Express migration is a great choice for small business to migrate Exchange to Exchange online (Office 365) within a couple of weeks or less.