Six questions every business should ask before migrating email to Office 365

Six questions every business should ask before migrating email to Office 365

The email migration process from Exchange Server (in-house) to Office 365 (cloud) can be filled with all kinds of quirks, quandaries and questions. If you’re thinking about migrating your email to the cloud and want to avoid getting thrown about the proverbial creek without a paddle, here are six questions you’ll want to ask.

"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers"

- Pablo Picasso

I’m sure Picasso’s words were more accurate pre-Google and the semantic web, however, the point remains the same: answers are no good in themselves. And yet…

"There are no right answers to the wrong questions."

– Ursula Le Guin

As with the rest of the world about us, knowing the right questions to ask is absolutely crucial. The same applies to email migration to Office 365. Ask the wrong questions – or none at all – and you can find yourself in all sorts of trouble. Here are some questions that should help you paddle confidently through the currents of email migration.

  1. Do you understand your email environment?

    Make sure you do. Document EVERYTHING. Every mailbox, every distribution group, every public folder and every calendar permission. If you don’t understand what you have, you can’t know what you’ll need to configure once you migrate.

  2. Is your email environment healthy?

    Find out if your existing Exchange environment has any corrupt or unstable mailboxes. These could seriously hamper a migration. So, even if you decide against removing them, at least you can factor them into your migration process and avoid unpleasant surprises and avoidable delays.

  3. Have you communicated about the email migration with your business?

    Email migration affects everyone so make sure you communicate thoroughly with your entire organisation. Tell them:

    • What’s going to happen and when
    • What might change and when
    • What actions they may have to take and when
    • The process for reporting any issues
    • The likelihood and timings of any potential disruption

    On the subject of disruption, I’d also suggest you make a point of finding out if there are any parts of the organisation where email downtime is a no-go. There are plenty of best practices to help avoid downtime during email migration – that’s something we’ll cover in our next blog.

  4. Does your organisation have the expertise and time resource required for successful email migration to the cloud?

    According to Bloor Research, nearly two out of every five (38%) attempts at cloud migration fail. Too many businesses take it on without due consideration for whether their in-house resources have the knowledge, experience and time to plan and execute the migration. Check out last week’s blog: “It’s complicated.” Why so many cloud migrations end in failure.

  5. Have you looked into planning, testing and deployment tools?

    If you ARE planning to take on migration yourself, there are tools to help you plan, test and deploy your cloud migration.

  6. Do you have enough bandwidth for Exchange to avoid slow migration?

    If you don’t think your bandwidth will cope with the size of your Exchange email files, don’t expect a one-off upload. Instead, stage your migration over a number of days or weeks.

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