For many organizations, email and related business application migration is the biggest obstacle to face before they’re able to realize the full productivity and cost benefits of Office 365. Deciding to migrate the email ecosystem to a cloud-based service can bring up a lot of issues and questions for companies of all sizes, for the following reasons
- Migration procedures must be legally defensible. You’ve got to be able to immediately lay your hands on accurate, uncorrupted data at any point.
- The information must remain secure, and normal business operations should be able to carry on uninterrupted.
- There are technical challenges in converting file types, de-duplication, ensuring archive integrity, supporting e-forensics, and physically moving the data. It is crucial to plan around any bandwidth restrictions; you’ll need to consider extended time-frames to physically transfer large archives.
Other aspects to consider include:
- Email is a corporate record, so before beginning any migration, you’ll need to ensure fundamental audit trails can be preserved together with clear chain-of-custody, and that specific roles and policies can be defined to control administrator access.
- Except for the most basic projects, some level of automation will be essential. Automation helps manage resources, speed up the process, reduce errors, deal with exceptions and ensure everything remains defensible.
- The good news is that most migrations are performed from live mail, archive, and offline file and shared folder structures with well-known characteristics, so there shouldn’t be any nasty surprises. With appropriate tools, sound project planning, and support from experts, there is no reason why your migration can’t be a complete success.
With some migration solutions, software may run in the cloud and you won’t need any special hardware. However, the reliability of your wide area network (WAN) is even more important, as again you don’t want to choke normal business data traffic.
- Backup windows: Backups are often run outside normal working hours, i.e. at the same time you’ll want to be transferring data during migration. These need to be scheduled so that neither process compromises the performance of the other.
- Permissions to access data: Permissions need to be set on all source systems before data gathering commences. Where local files, such as PSTs, need to be accessed on individual machines, it’s important to communicate with staff and explain the reasons for access.
- Security issues: Misconfigured proxies and firewalls can be blockers to migration, as can overzealous security procedures that mean extensive customization to the migration tools being used.
- Specialist resources: If some of the necessary skills are not available in-house, it’s often necessary to employ external consultants to help with project governance or delivery activities. Appropriate planning and tool selection can often reduce the cost associated with hiring specialists.
- Bandwidth Impact/Constraints: Available Bandwidth has an impact both to migration velocity i.e. how quickly content can be migrated, as well as a wider impact to the available bandwidth for other business applications. There are also additional considerations which organizations need to be aware of, including that Microsoft can throttle transfer speeds from the service in certain scenarios, such as:
- User throttling – affecting migration from non-Microsoft platforms such as IBM Lotus Domino and Novell GroupWise
- Resource-based throttling – to manage incidents affecting critical services
- DDoS – In the past Microsoft has interpreted large-scale migrations as an attempt to perform a DDoS attack and have responded by either throttling or suspending the underlying service.
- Drive shipping: The process of copying data files to a BitLocker-encrypted hard drive and then physically shipping the drive to Microsoft is a challenge to perform bulk transfer to cloud.
Theoretically, it’s easy to migrate live email as Microsoft provides basic tools that allow you to transfer data into your organizations’ Office 365/Exchange Online environment, although large cutover migrations can be challenging. One of the challenges is that you need to consider more than your live email boxes. In many organizations, email is often the default ‘database of record’. It’s the only application that a vast majority of employees actively use in order to do their job. Not only does it provide an audit trail of correspondence, but it’s also used by many users as a quick way of accessing other documents or content. The organization will need to find a way of integrating the live mailbox migration with other elements of the email ecosystem from the outset if you are to avoid difficulties further down the line.
Over time, archiving of older emails in purpose-built electronic systems like Veritas Enterprise Vault often becomes essential to retain performance of the main system or for regulatory compliance. During a migration, it’s easy to break the interactive shortcuts (or ‘stubs’) that users rely on if just the live mail system is moved. Many organisations are now migrating archives into Office 365 – which creates the risk of incredible throughput bottlenecks and business interruption – while others must remap their live mail and archive systems completely if a hybrid Office 365 with on-premises archive is the target solution. Both scenarios can be achieved painlessly if the right approach is taken from the outset.
Line of business applications
One of the key features of Lotus Notes is the ability to host business applications within the Notes client, providing a single common location for a multitude of business applications, most of which may be considered as business critical. As these applications tended to grow organically and/or to meet specific business requirements (sometimes for specific teams/business units) it is likely that this application portfolio will have grown to include complex, integrated systems. As a result migrating to a service like Office 365 will inevitably involve the identification and migration of this application portfolio.
Moving from Lotus Notes to Office 365 is not just a technology change. As users are moved away from their traditional desktop Lotus application to the new Office 365 based platform, users will be presented with a new user experience, Outlook 2019/Pro Plus has a different look and feel and will require both training and usage for the users to fully leverage and adopt the new features available to them.
Successfully managing this change is one of the key components of a migration to Office 365, especially when considering some of the additional components available in Office 365, such as SharePoint Online, Microsoft Teams etc.
Advantages of O365
Compliance: Able to meet regulatory and legal standards for retention and discoverability . Ensure data resides in appropriate location/ geography . Reconcile files with correct users (even if they have left the organisation).
Security: Prevent local ‘PST’ files being created, lost or stolen. Improve protection against email-based viruses and attacks. Centralize control over live and archive mailboxes.
Performance: Enable VDI and multi-device roll-out, and improve employee mobility. Improve utilization of existing network and system resources. Improve business continuity and disaster recovery capability.
Cost control: Prevent expensive third-party remediation for unsupported products. Improve management of licensing. Reduce internal support cost of email administration and intervention.
Service enhancement: Enable adoption of cloud services that complement Office 365. Improve scalability of email services against business requirement. Consolidate systems following acquisition or merger.
Remediation: Standardize for future portability between email service providers. Mend broken and neglected email archives containing critical records. Fix problems with lost, corrupted, oversize and duplicated files . As you see, there are plenty of reasons for migrating to Office 365. And although not all may apply in your situation – it is likely you’ll recognize some familiar issues. Let’s move on and begin giving some thought to your compliance framework.
Microsoft Teams (Teams) is a shared workspace that brings many of the collaboration and communication solutions within Office 365 into a focused workspace. It integrates with other solutions from Microsoft, third-party vendors, and in-house development to facilitate faster and smarter working — both within and outside of the organization.
Companies reported significant time savings in collaboration activities for both information and firstline workers by adding Teams to an existing Microsoft 365 implementation. This included time saved on co-authoring and version control, and the time spent seeking out the right information and colleagues. Companies also reported a reduction in emails sent because users could request and share information in the Teams focused workspace using conversation threads. “One big advantage of using Teams is mobility. It is easy to use on smartphones and has improved collaboration for people on the move.”
Microsoft commissioned Forrester to analyze the Total Economic Impact of adopting Office 365 across several organizations. Its findings included:
- Co-authoring saved users 1.5 hours per week. Time was reduced by 14.9% in North America, 16.2% in EMEA, and 17.4% in Asia Pacific.
- Better document and coworker search saved 7.8 minutes per day.
- Improved version control saved 18.9 minutes per day.
- Conversation search saved 20.9 minutes per day.
- The average user received 89 emails per day; Teams reduced this by 17.3%. The number of emails ranged from 83 per day in Asia Pacific to 96 in North America. The percentage reduction was similar in North America and Asia Pacific, but only 16.5% in EMEA. For information workers, Forrester assumes that:
- Users save 15 minutes per day on co-authoring and version control activities. Half of this benefit is realized in Year 1 as workers get used to distributed real-time coauthoring.
Planning your migration.
Once the analysis, categorization of the estate has been completed, it is time to plan the migration, rationalization and transformation of the identified applications. This white paper will not attempt to provide a one-size-fits-all plan, as this is not possible. However, it will endeavour to provide some pointers and areas for organizations to consider.
What does success look like?
For each application in the programme, an idea of what success looks like should be identified. This can draw on the information identified in the assessment phase, but should be something that can be easily measured, and can include elements such as:
Solving a specific business problem
- User adoption
- Cost reduction
- Global availability
Solving a specific business problem should be a straightforward task. However, some of the other metrics may be more difficult to identify or quantify. Having said that, it is still important to understand what this may look like.