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How to migrate to Exchange Online without upsetting your boss

How to migrate to Exchange Online without upsetting your boss

So, you’ve finally convinced the CEO that it’s worthwhile moving your e-mail system to the cloud and now you’ve hit your first big challenge – how do you actually migrate to Exchange Online? 

Even better, how do you migrate to Exchange Online with zero downtime or stress? That would be ideal, right? 

Step 1 – Planning

First, you need to ensure you’ve got all your plans in place to make your migration a success. The initial plan needs to include:

  • Details of each user you’ll be migrating from your existing e-mail system to Exchange Online
  • Details of who manages your domain name, and the login details to allow you to make changes to DNS records for your domain
  • Information about which mailboxes won’t be moved, plus any that need to be consolidated
  • Full information of all e-mail aliases, mailing lists/distribution groups and forwarders so you can re-create these when you migrate to Exchange Online
  • Passwords for user’s mailboxes if migrating from an IMAP service, or the details of a domain user with full access to all mailboxes if migrating from an in-house (on premise) Exchange server.

Step 2 – Communication

You need to speak to all the relevant e-mail users to find the best time to migrate the e-mail and make the switch over to the new online service. There’s nothing worse for your professional reputation than scheduling a mail system change on the same day that the Marketing Department have sent out a communication to thousands of prospective customers – trust me, you won’t be popular!

Next, you should plan enough time to adequately allow the existing e-mails to migrate to Exchange Online. To calculate this can be tricky. If your e-mails are hosted in-house, you can work out your upload bandwidth of your broadband connection and the rough size of your mailboxes by looking at your existing server. Use a transfer rate calculator like: http://techinternets.com/copy_calc and you can then work out roughly how long the migration should take. If you’re hosting your e-mails with a third party then it’s purely dependent on their outbound transfer speeds and if they throttle their connections when they are being heavily accessed.

Once you know your changeover date, consider if you plan to make the MX records change (the part that specifies that new e-mails deliver to Exchange Online and not your current solution) on a weekend. If you do, make sure you have the technical resources available on the weekend to make the required DNS changes – especially if you’re going to need external assistance from a hosting company or other third party to make your DNS changes.

Step 3 – Desktop, and mobile device support

Once you’ve made the switch, all of your user’s e-mails will now be delivered to Exchange Online. Great stuff!

However, you need to ensure you’ve factored in time to help your end users change their mail profiles (or install Outlook) so they are able to pick up their e-mails. You’ll also likely need to assist them with changing their phone settings so they can collect their e-mails, and also any tablets or laptops they may own.

Of course, the huge downside to a weekend migration is that the first thing people want to do on Monday morning is to pick up their e-mails from the weekend. This means you need to make sure that you (or your IT team) are ready to assist the end users when they arrive for work.

How do I migrate to Exchange Online with no downtime?

If you follow the steps above, there should be little/no downtime – but lots of manual work with things like Outlook changes, etc.

We have a suite of specialist tools and some well drilled procedures that will reduce your workload by around 80%, and we can guarantee zero downtime of your e-mail systems. We can also automate the client e-mail switch-over on Outlook, so you don’t get the Migration Monday blues  – plus we’re migration experts, having moved over 400 people to Exchange Online in the past few years.

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