With the end of Microsoft XP/Office 2003 many SMB are considering moving to a new platform, preferably one that allows for more collaboration in an increasingly mobile world. While some are considering ODF platforms, others may be more comfortable with a format they already (somewhat) know. The following article is intended to address some best practices for those SMBs migrating to Office 365.
First, Office 365 is intended to be an entirely hosted environment for organizations regardless of their size, replacing the core operation of on-site systems focused on managing email, collaboration, real-time communications and desktop productivity. It contains Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online, in addition to Microsoft Office and Office Web Apps. Your organization will have several plans to choose from, depending on your particular needs.
The next step as an IT manager/decision maker is to create a plan. We say it over and over again. Regardless of organization size or platform chosen, planning is key to success - here are some quick tips:
- Make a list of data that needs to be moved and what can be ignored. Clean up unused mailboxes, users, SharePoint libraries, etc. so it takes less time to migrate and fewer opportunities for error.
- Bandwidth is an important factor. In addition to evaluating the speed of the connection over which Office 365 will be accessed it is also important to consider average packet loss and latency. You may need to upgrade your bandwidth to efficiently migrate to Office 365.
- Train your users so that they understand how their daily activities will change with Office 365. There are a lot of training resources online, and Microsoft offers training videos. Depending on the number in your organization, it may be worth considering hiring a migration risk consultant.
- Make use of the available tools (Deployment Readiness Tool – which performs pre-migration checks on your environment; Office 365 speed test - Tells you how good your connection to Office 365 is and whether you should upgrade your internet before your migration.) in order to have a smooth migration.
- Know the limitations (The default mailbox size limit is 25 GB, you can e-mail a maximum of 1,500 recipients per day, e-mail size limit is 25 MB).
- Choose the best migration type that suits your organization: IMAP cutover, Exchange cutover, Staged coexistence, Hybrid coexistence.
Office 365 provides impressive new tools for organization. Functionality that in the past required major capital expenses is now available as an operational cost. This means that you can buy what you need, when you need it and only as much as you want. While carrying out a migration may be difficult task, it can be made easier with planning.