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Integration: the way forward for Office 365 migration

29 Mar 2016 by Mike Weaver

Why automation is needed
In a previous blog ‘Making Office 365 migrations less painful’ we looked at how Office 365/Exchange Online migrations could include both live mail and archives to take advantage of its enhanced compliance capabilities and unlimited mailbox quotas.

Office 365 migration is just like any other migration in that you need to schedule in planning time, resources, testing, configuration and so on. It’s not just a simple matter of selecting which mailboxes and archives you want to move and then pressing a button.  I personally treat a migration to Office 365 more like a Merger and Acquisition Project than an Exchange upgrade.

In these projects you can drastically simplify the process using automated tools. There’s a huge amount of repetitive activity involved in migrating large numbers of user accounts. There will also be case-by-case problems to solve during the process.  A good automation workflow will handle most situations.   The better the software and its logic, the fewer interventions you have to make to deal with exceptions. As a result, the entire migration will run more smoothly for operators and end users.  In general, if your environment is healthy and in good condition, you should expect a 2% or less fall out.  (I have seen as low as one-quarter of one percent!)  This will allow you to focus on the management of the migration project, and doing your day to day work.

Migration isn’t just about extraction and ingestion. You need to avoid service outages and interruptions for users, manage internal communications, migrate “leavers”, assign Office 365 licensing, and much more. These and other issues are best managed by automation. Unless you can write your own custom migration tool, you need to find a tool that is flexible to handle your specific migration needs.

Automating your Exchange Online migration
As discussed in the previous blog, Microsoft offers some basic migration tools for mailboxes and archives, but their functionality is relatively restricted.  (For archive migrations, there are very large deficiencies on functionality and speed)

If you’re looking at running a single project to migrate both, in most cases you’ll need to run two schedules using completely different software for each. In most cases you’ll need to talk to at least two vendors, or ask a live mail product vendor if they can also supply somebody else’s archive migration tool (or vice versa). The other option is to bring in a consulting firm to address the issue.  However, this is often a very expensive option.

The methodology of moving a live mailbox, versus moving an archive, is quite different.  For live mailboxes, we have to ensure we use methodologies that will avoid having to reconfigure the Outlook client.  For Archive Migrations we don’t have this issue, however, the size is so large other migration methodologies are needed.

When you’re comparing migration software, you need to find the right product for the right purpose.  We feel you should use the right migration methodology for the right job.  This means automating the Microsoft methodologies for the live mailbox migrations, and using another process for the archive.  This prevents Outlook from needing to be reconfigured during the migration.  This also avoids Outlook Cache rebuilds.  All of this can be achieved without an agent, client, or logon script.

When it comes to Archive Migrations, these restrictions are not here.  This allows us to use technologies that speed migration.  We’ve already highlighted how our Highly Optimized Transfer System (HOTS)and Advanced Ingestion Protocol (AIP) dramatically speed up WAN data transfer and ingestion speeds compared with other methods. But with the right technology, even extraction can be faster. Here’s one example where we measured Veritas Enterprise Vault (EV) extraction at 11.8 TB/day using our ArchiveShuttle application.

If you’re planning a migration project, ask your software vendor for a proof-of-concept in your environment. You should test BOTH the live mailbox migration, and the archive migration.  We’re confident that QUADROtech’s Time to Pilot Completion (TTPC) and Time to First Item (TTFI) in a live migration are the best you’ll find.

Why a single vendor makes sense
QUADROtech is the only vendor with a complete suite of products that address live mail (MailboxShuttle), archives (ArchiveShuttle) and PST files (PST FlightDeck). With our simple pricing structure it’s easy to budget for a complete Office 365 project involving just one vendor agreement.

You can use the software yourself, call on one of our worldwide network of specialist partners, or ask us to manage the project for you. You can use on-premises versions or use the QUADROtech cloud to save provisioning extra hardware. You can even run it using temporary storage and the built-in SQL database service in Microsoft Azure.

Having a single vendor lined up means that everything can be safely and easily run through proof-of-concept before you get stuck in. And there’s no danger of leaving out something vital that results in user impact.  We have built workflows that handle all aspects of the migration.  (tune in to the next blog!)

Does that sound good? Well, where we’re going next is even better.

Integrated mailbox and archive migration is the future
Wouldn’t it be great if you could define a single, reliable workflow that would ensure interdependencies between live mail and archives were handled automatically?

For example, what if you could set up a single schedule within MailboxShuttle that would migrate the mailboxes within Exchange Online and hand those mailboxes over seamlessly for ArchiveShuttle to ingest the archive data?

We talked about migration never being as simple as just pressing a button. But this kind of solution is as near as you could ever get to it. Just think of how much easier and more efficiently a migration project could be completed.

We know of only one vendor who could have that conversation with you (it’s us, and they are quite kind to talk to).

We’ll look at what’s involved in a further blog.

Mike Weaver is the Product Owner of Cloud Commander, PST Flight Deck and Mailbox Shuttle. Bringing a wealth of experience in large Enterprise Environments, Mike assists with complex, multi-product implementations of all Quadrotech solutions. Prior to joining Quadrotech, Mike led Merger, Acquisition, and Divesture Messaging Projects. He also administered, and engineered solutions for Microsoft Exchange, Veritas Enterprise Vault, PST Flight Deck, Archive Shuttle, as well as many other solutions and products in the Windows Infrastructure space. Mike holds a Master of Business Administration from Quinnipiac University, and a Bachelor of Science from Central Connecticut State University.