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Stubs don’t have to be hard

15 Aug 2016 by Peter Kozak

Recently, I visited a customer, a large company with over 10,000 Seats to talk to them about their Office 365 Migration Project. As many others, the customer wants to move the email workload first and, in parallel, activate the users for Skype for Business. The customer currently has an Exchange 2013 Environment archived by an Enterprise Vault Archiving System.
[vc_column width=”5/6″]Fortunately, the customer was well informed about the possibilities and the different applications/tools to approach such a migration. I was very surprised, when the topic of Stub/Shortcut Handling and/or Rehydration came up, as some competitors presented it as a huge pain point in an email migration and one of their key differentiators.

Let me remind everyone what Stubfiles/Shortcuts are: A user receives an email in his mailbox. The archiving system, in our case Enterprise Vault, archives the email depending on its policy (e.g. older than 30 days) and replaces the item in the user’s mailbox with a Shortcut/Stub. For the user the usage of this stub is (almost) transparent. If the user clicks on the stubfile, the original (archived) email will be fetched from the archiving system and displayed in the user’s Outlook without the need to restore the item to Exchange first. If the user moves the shortcut to a different place in the mailbox, the location is synchronized back to Enterprise Vault.[vc_column width=”1/6″]I’m wondering why this should be such a huge pain point, as typically the only thing you want to do, is to delete them…

Let me explain how we solved the customer’s migration problem and it becomes obvious:

For the Mailbox Migration from Exchange 2013 to Office 365 we use Mailbox Shuttle (our Mailbox Migration tool) and its Sync’n’Switch approach. Migration Batches are built easily inside the software by being able to group users by different Active Directory properties. In the case of our customer above, the customer decided to drive the migration by department. When the scheduled batch execution time has come, MailboxShuttle moves the mailboxes to Office 365 (including the stubs). The stubs for the user are still working as they contain just a hyperlink to the archived item. Thanks to the workflow based approach of our products, we can drag at this point in time the “Create Archive Mailbox” Workflow step, which like the name suggests, creates the user an Office 365 Online Archive automatically. If the user had an Archive in EnterpriseVault a mapping will be created automatically in ArchiveShuttle (our tool for Archive Migrations) and the synchronization phase starts. Data is now transferred from the On Premises Enterprise Vault System to the Users O365 Online Archive reflecting the folder structure of the Enterprise Vault archive. At this point in time, t he folders in the EV Archive, have already been updated by Enterprise Vault based on the shortcut positions in the primary mailbox.  As soon the transfer is done, we start the “switch” workflow inside ArchiveShuttle, which in our case executes all necessary steps to move the user experience from the on-premises system to the new Office 365 system.

The workflow executed for every user firstly disables the user for archiving in Enterprise Vault and “closes” the archive which makes it read only. The second step of the workflow is to verify that everything that had to be migrated for a particular user was migrated successfully. If there is any kind of delta, the delta will be migrated.  The third step now deletes the stub files from the user’s primary mailbox, and the stubs are not anymore needed as we want to start switching the user experience at this certain point.  After the shortcuts have been deleted, the next step is to remove the Enterprise Vault Buttons provided by the EV Outlook add in in the users Outlook, as the functionality is no longer required. The fifth step in our workflow is to remove EV’s VirtualVault from the Users outlook. The last step is to remove permissions from the EnterpriseVault Archive for the user, so that finally the users access is capped to the legacy system.

When the “switch” phase has successfully completed, ArchiveShuttle reports back to MailboxShuttle and MailboxShuttle continues with its workflow. The final step before the migration is complete, is to enable the user for Skype for Business. This was archived by calling a customer Powershell Script that the customer has written directly from Mailbox shuttle’s workflow Engine.

If you’re in the market to migrate Enterprise Vault to Office 365, please contact our expert team today.