Moving Microsoft Exchange to the cloud.

Migrating from your on-premise Exchange servers to Office 365 is the place to start for any organization that is moving to the cloud. The Kiefer team has worked with a number of clients that have moved their e-mail to Office 365. Our team has offered expert guidance and valuable insight to these clients to help in a seamless transition.

Once you have your domain, users, and groups in Office 365, the next step will likely be to migrate your mail and calendar content to O365. There are a number of ways to move Exchange to the cloud. This blog tackles some of these methods. 

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Something to keep in mind, even though some of these methods seem simple and straightforward, there are always caveats and issues that could arise that may be out of the norm. When working with a partner on your migration, you should be working with a partner that understands what to look for and can help you plan accordingly.

Another thing that is important to note, it truly isn’t possible that a blog outline all of the details of migrating Exchange to Office 365. We simply wanted to provide readers of our blog with a high-level overview of common practices for migrating e-mail to the cloud and help you identify the most logical starting point.

Migrating eMail

If you have an on-premises Exchange Server environment, your administrator can migrate all email, calendar, and contacts from user mailboxes to Office 365.

You can elect to use the “out of the box” migration tool – in the admin console, under Exchange->Admin->Recipients->Migration, there is a wizard-like tool to help you set up an exchange migration.

Generally speaking, there are two ways to migrate. You can perform a staged migration or a cutover migration to Office 365. All email, contacts, and calendar information can be migrated for each mailbox.

Migrate all mailboxes at once (AKA: A cutover migration)

If you are running Exchange 2003, Exchange 2007, Exchange 2010, or Exchange 2013, and if there are fewer than 2000 mailboxes, you might consider a cutover migration. Microsoft has a great technical article that can be helpful if you are considering a “cutover”. ARTICLE

Even though Microsoft has suggested that a cutover migration is feasible for organizations with less than 200 mailboxes, it’s important to know that moving 2,000 mailboxes will take a lot of time. Microsoft has even mentioned in a recent article that a cutover is ideal for migrating 150 users… or less.

A “staged” migration (hybrid)

A staged migration requires that an administrator maintains both on-premises and online mailboxes for the organization. Over time, administrators will gradually migrate users and email to Office 365. This approach requires planning and synchronization. A staged migration a good approach if you have more than 2,000 mailboxes and want to migrate mailboxes in small batches over time. Microsoft has published an article that dives deep into this topic and can provide valuable guidance. ARTICLE

This is the method that we recommend for many of our clients. A staged approach allows us to leverage the on-prem and cloud infrastructure. This approach is also ideal for clients that are looking to migrate but are concerned about an interruption in e-mail services.

Small organizations – Users can move to the cloud on their own

If your organization is small, you can have users migrate their e-mail, contacts, and calendars to the cloud. The process is pretty straightforward. Here are some details on how to upload an individual’s content to the cloud. ARTICLE

Third-party tools

In some cases, we recommend using a third-party migration tool to migrate your mailboxes. Kiefer Consulting has partnerships with partners that provide a robust toolset for migrating to Office 365. There are a lot of fantastic tools that can be used to help in managing a large-scale migration. We can help you find the right tools.

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Hire a Partner

Hire a partner to help you with your migration and/or deployment of Office 365 – Microsoft partners (such as Kiefer Consulting) are experts at migration and can walk you through the entire process. We can recommend the right third-party tools (if necessary) and provide valuable expertise. Our team has a proven process and can help your organization migrate.

If you have questions about migrating e-mail or any of the methods outlined in this blog, please contact us. We are a Microsoft Partner with a Gold competency in Cloud Productivity. We’re happy to answer questions, share opinions, and help you down the path!


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