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The Challenges of M&A Driven O365 Tenant Consolidation – Part I

20 May 2020 by Nigel Williams

People working around a cloud, depicting the consolidation of an O365 tenant.

When Business and Technology run at different speeds

For organizations that employ M&A as a key part of their growth strategy, the speed of integration is essential to success. For these companies, acquisition and integration are business as usual rather than occasional events.

The Coronavirus has slowed the global M&A market and deals will undoubtedly take longer due to new due diligence considerations and an increase in time taken to gain various necessary approvals.

However, fire sales are highly likely, and once the deal is closed the clock is ticking on integration, just as it was before the pandemic emerged. Potentially the urgency of integration will increase due to the increased overall timeline for deals.

Rapid Tenant Consolidation

With Microsoft 365 becoming the standard in many organizations, consolidating tenants rapidly is now one of the critical success factors in integration, and in the success or failure of the business goals of the acquisition.

There are, however, several barriers to beating the clock, most obviously the limitations imposed by a service designed to keep data separate, not combine it, and APIs not designed with migration in mind.

For the integration team, scoping the consolidation process is also challenging. In large organizations, workloads like Teams, Exchange, OneDrive, and SharePoint are usually managed by different groups, which possess different skillsets, so knowing the gotchas in each area isn’t easy.

This knowledge is critical as it enables the integration team to identify issues that could disrupt users. There are many configuration issues embedded in technical policies for sharing, mobile devices, message transport, and data leak protection which could heavily impact users during an Office 365 tenant to tenant migration if they are not known and managed.

It doesn’t help that most organizations do not have access to a consistent method of gathering data across workloads and will need to flip between admin centers, graph commands, audit log data, and of course PowerShell.

Hitting Deadlines

Agreeing what the end state of the target tenant will be can be surprisingly controversial.

The time-consuming debate often arises when a capability on the source tenant is going to be disallowed in the target. A decision then has to be taken, usually as part of a reconciliation process, to adjust the relevant policy or make an exception.

Sometimes this process is driven by regulatory issues. The closer the difference in size between the sources, the tougher those reconciliation calls can be.

The integration team also needs to achieve technical excellence amid substantial change, with the complex people management issues this can bring.

All these factors contribute to making tenant to tenant migrations challenging, but excuses don’t count for much in M&A projects. Hitting the project deadline is an important part of assuring the return on investment the deal was founded on.

To achieve technical excellence requires a repeatable model that is flexible enough to accommodate the inevitable differences between projects and rigorous enough to accommodate a high level of operational complexity. That isn’t easy to do, but it can be achieved and is the subject of part II of this post.

Quadrotech’s powerful Office 365 tenant consolidation software is capable of sustained 1 TB per hour speeds for Exchange Online data. Contact our specialist team today to see how we can reduce your project timelines.