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O365 Tenant Migration: Divestiture Webinar Transcript

Jun 26, 2020 by Finn Searchfield

Devices connected to the cloud, depicting an O365 tenant migration.

This is an abridged transcript from the O365 tenant migration webinar focusing on divestitures. Watch the full recording here.

Mike Weaver: So, let’s talk about separation methods, and admittedly this is where most people are struggling. When we talk about the common options for taking Office 365 and divesting, we have to go find the data. This data really falls into two boats. One is discovery, but there are some new options that are popping up that can help here as well – more than just your eDiscovery tools.

The first one is user-driven. This, for most organizations, is still the most common that I see, and I think we’re going to see it for a while. For a lot of divestitures, this is all that’s needed, creating folders in users’ mailboxes in OneDrive/SharePoint and having users move the data into those folders, spot-checking them for compliance, and moving them.

This is a pretty good plan because it gives users confidence and comfort that their data is going. So, they’re doing something or packing their boxes for the move. It allows the business to help define what goes in there and a little bit of protection for being able to scan those specific areas. It also allows for users that are working on multiple pieces of business and they’re going with the divestiture that they can ensure they have what they need, but the stuff they don’t need or shouldn’t be taking is left behind.

The other option is the discovery aspect. This is where we look for what can move. So, essentially, do an eDiscovery search, put in the terms, and migrate it. This doesn’t have a lot of user impact. It needs a business input to do this because it has to be well defined, but there are some challenges with this approach.

Seperation Methods - common options for O365 tenant migrations.

O365 Tenant Migration Considerations

The other thing you have to keep in mind is we’re just talking about Office 365 in this webinar. There’s a lot more to a company’s digital assets than just Office 365, so you’re likely going to have structured systems that are going to migrate. You might have a portion of SalesForce or another CRM system. You might have a product catalog or product database that needs to go with this.

There’s probably going to be other systems that are ‘out of scope’ of this conversation. What’s important to understand is these systems might be tied to your project. And so, what we have found that the organizations with the best result here are doing end-user interviews with team leads, tech leads and people that are right on the front-line. To ensure you capture everything, you need to ask, “What does your day look like? What systems are you in? Can you share your screen and show this to me?” so that then you can do a very good audit of what’s going on and come to an agreement on these other systems.

Other considerations for an O365 tenant migration.

User Driven

When we talk about that user-driven process – which again, even though it’s the least technical, is the most common process that we see – you want to ensure that IT is creating that folder, so there’s no spelling or space issues and it’s not in a different subfolder or somewhere you would miss it.

But also, in the communications you can tell users, “If you don’t have this folder, please open a case,” because if you didn’t create the folder, you don’t necessarily know that that user is part of the migration, so it’s important that you create it. Within this, you want the business to have clear communications on what data can move and what data can’t. You need that buy-in on what that is so that everything is known and you’re not over-sharing again.

User driven process for Office 365 tenant migrations


When we talk about the discovery process, this is exciting for analysts and for highly regulated situations it certainly has merit. Particularly for users that are working on multiple projects or if you’re divesting to a competitor. The idea of doing a really robust eDiscovery search is attractive, but we’re still not quite there yet. You still need someone to define the terms for the search. For a legal case, this is easier because you have a scope for litigation and it’s a little easier to do it, but in this case, you don’t know what you don’t know.

So, getting all this data can be difficult. You need someone with a lot of organizational knowledge and a lot of knowledge of user behavior. If you’re doing a 30-user divestiture, that might be easier than if you’re divesting thousands of users. It’s going to be really hard with accuracy to feed any eDiscovery engine in this case. Again, it makes it hard because companies operate not as if we’re going to divest tomorrow, so I don’t keep all my items well segmented. If we suddenly divested a section of business, I wouldn’t necessarily have operated knowing that for at least a period of time.

This process also requires – to do anything really advanced – advanced eDiscovery tools. You typically need E5 licenses. There certainly are some eDiscovery options in the lower SKUs, but to get that true AI engine and marking items, you need that E5 licensing or a third-party eDiscovery tool. So, this again is a great option for a highly regulated move or moving to a competitor, or maybe where most of the users’ work is in a third-party structured system. And this is only basic data, but it’s important to realize that this has some limitations.

Slide showing the discovery process for Office 365 to Office 365 divestitires

What is best?

So of course, to get the best of both is to mix them, and this is probably what we see. Again, the user-driven process is the most common, but using discovery tools to confirm compliance. This is where we use the discovery engine to ensure that we got everything. Asking the business to give us some basic terms that we can go and scan all the SharePoint sites, scan OneDrive, and scan the big repositories to try to ensure we got everything. Then go back, “There’s a site over here that you may have missed. We want to ensure you have everything, can you please identify if the site is in scope or not?”.

This is, for now, the most practical – the mixing of two worlds is what we’re seeing. This process tends to work really well. It also gives comfort again for the users that they know what’s moving with them. For both methods, we want to ensure that you’re migrating items that won’t come up normally or are really critical, so these are things that most of the time are in scope.

In particular. when you’re doing a mailbox migration, it’s calendars, contacts, tasks, notes, and everything in the Contoso folder. That’s typically what we’re seeing for an email notification. The other item to note is personal items. How those going to be handled? This can be, I know, a tricky topic and issue for users in organizations because personal items are always a difficult thing.

But keep in mind you also have the employees’ personal records for their own employment, so reviews they may have hung on to, certain notes or their contracts. Things like that. They may need a Section Two inside that folder as well to move those items over.


Which approach is best fr=or your tenant to tenant migration?

In this next section, we’re going to review the questions you need to ask your leadership in relation to the divestiture. You really need these answers before you can do all the analysis, scope, and a lot of the processes.

To see which questions you need to ask leadership when it comes to managing a divestiture-focused O365 tenant migration, please watch the full session.