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Office 365: How To Choose A Migration Partner


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Not all Microsoft Office 365 migration partners are equal. We've collected best practices and key considerations when evaluating a great migration partner.

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Office 365: How To Choose A Migration Partner

  1. 1. How to choose a Microsoft Office 365™ Migration Partner Moving to the Cloud without Risking Productivity, Collaboration or Security
  2. 2. Connect with us today 1.800.268.7638 | | @softchoice 2 Not all Microsoft Office 365 migration partners are equal. You often find partners who look good on paper and realize – after it’s too late – they’re missing the mark. Sometimes issues arise when a project isn’t accurately scoped out, or when Office 365’s value (and limitations) are not properly communicated at the outset. In other cases, not enough thought is given to what happens after day two and beyond. Everyone has bad days. The challenge for many organizations is how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? I’ve assembled what I believe are the best practices and key considerations for evaluating a great migration partner. This is based on direct experience managing the migration of more than 20,000 mailboxes (and counting). In each section, I outline key considerations and what to look for during every phase of a migration. I hope it serves you well on your journey to the cloud! Choosing a Microsoft Office 365™ Migration Partner | Introduction Tim McKellips Manager of Technical Services Softchoice
  3. 3. Connect with us today 1.800.268.7638 | | @softchoice 3 Twitter: @Mckellip LinkedIn: Tim McKellips About Tim McKellips Meet Tim Tim McKellips has spent his entire 16-year IT career in the Microsoft technology and professional services arena. He started as an Exchange 5.5 and Windows NT consultant before serving as the director of a Microsoft practice in the Central and Eastern U.S. Tim joined Softchoice in 2007 and today leads the company’s Technical Services team, defining strategy and methodology for complex Professional Services solutions, with a special focus on Microsoft. Tim relishes living the stereotype of a gadget and technology enthusiast. For fun, he and his family are slowly renovating their century old cottage in northern Wisconsin.
  4. 4. Connect with us today 1.800.268.7638 | | @softchoice 4 When you invest in Office 365, you’ll find lots of vendors who will tell you how they want to execute your project. The reality is, the planning and design process is more about understanding your needs and environment in order to tailor the right solution. During the planning and design phase, I recommend the following: Assess your current state Understanding the health of your current systems before you plan for your end state is essential. Many people skip this step and then deal with delays and failures during the actual migration. The reality is your structure is only as strong as your foundation. In my experience, the most important thing to do is make sure your Active Directory is healthy and doesn’t contain errors. For instance, IT administrators often build exchange servers and fail to remove them from Active Directory when they are no longer needed. This causes errors when these servers are shut down and bad data is moved to Office 365. 1 BE ACCURATE Planning and Design
  5. 5. Connect with us today 1.800.268.7638 | | @softchoice 5 Choosing an Office 365 Migration Partner | Phase 1: Planning and Design Consider the gap state I’ve seen many IT decision makers look at Office 365’s features and decide what they want to achieve. What often gets lost is the work involved in moving from point A to point B. This route – or the space between your current state and end state – is the gap state and requires careful planning and design. How to mind the gaps? • Don’t squeeze your business into a narrow definition of Office 365. Instead, a partner should help you think about creative ways to make Office 365 work for your business. • Decide how Office 365 will help you achieve your business goals. For example, if uninterrupted service is part of your migration goals, how will you maintain uptime during the gap state? • Determine how migrating to Office 365 will impact your SLAs. Revisit your SLAs and key policies as part of the migration plan. This includes evaluating how Office 365 will impact your uptime, archive policies and recovery time objectives. I also like to use a migration to recommit to business SLAs and potentially raise them. If you fail to consider SLAs as part of your gap state, you will get bitten. Some IT professionals underestimate their mailboxes and create a plan without the right diligence. This can triple the effort of a migration. • Determine the impact circle. Email runs the engine of your business, so you must understand how it impacts productivity in your organization. I’ve seen IT professionals actually shut off access to email during a migration. While some organizations can get away with this, if you don’t want to face the wrath of your co-workers, plan to migrate without service interruptions. This also means understanding how other systems and hardware – such as fax machines – may be affected by the migration. “ ” The space between your current state and end state is the gap state and requires careful planning and design.
  6. 6. Connect with us today 1.800.268.7638 | | @softchoice 6 Envision your end state The best end states are agile. At the end of an Office 365 migration, you should be more flexible and have a working strategy that you will change over time. Clients often ask me if they should keep all of their mailboxes on premise or move them all to the cloud. The reality is it’s not an all or nothing situation. You will find a happy middle ground by keeping sensitive mailboxes on premise while moving the rest to the cloud to achieve cost savings. This may also help you comply with SLAs, address regulatory concerns and enable easier disaster recovery. Build a global identity strategy Many organizations use Office 365 as the compelling event to spur a larger SaaS management strategy. Office 365 gives you the opportunity to think about how you will manage a global SaaS identity strategy. When you migrate to Office 365, you should consider: • How will you enhance user productivity while keeping your data secure? Will you allow users to log in via Active Directory to gain secure access not just to Office 365 but to all of their SaaS apps? • How will you provision and deprovision access? How will you turn off an employee’s access to your other SaaS apps when they leave the organization? • How will you manage external identities? What are the best ways to manage customers, partners and vendors who need to access your apps and portals? These are important questions and figuring out your strategy here can pay big dividends in terms of improved security, governance and productivity over the long-term.
  7. 7. Connect with us today 1.800.268.7638 | | @softchoice 7 Understand your user roles and use profiles As IT professionals, we worry a lot about user profiles. While these are still important, we now must separate them into users and profiles. To get the most from an Office 365 investment, we must identify not only who is using the technology but how. Let me give you an example. Do you have mobile workers who want to use Office 365 on their iPads? A mobile worker is a ‘role’ and the fact that they’re using an iPad represents a distinct ‘profile’. If we don’t support this profile, users will go outside of IT to get their work done. This is also where licensing comes into play. The choices you make around users and profiles when planning an Office 365 migration will affect your licensing options and also your costs. Be aware of Office 365’s strengths and limitations While Office 365 offers a powerful suite of services, it may not meet all of your needs. You may want to archive both on-premise and cloud workloads for Office 365 and on-premise collaboration data. Since Office 365 can’t do both, you may want to bring in a third-party service, such as Mimecast to provide this capability. You may also require additional layers of security and encryption. Understanding the ecosystem surrounding Office 365 is important, particularly if you’re in a highly regulated industry. “ ” The best end states are agile. At the end of an Office 365 migration, you should be more flexible and have a working strategy that you can change over time.
  8. 8. Connect with us today 1.800.268.7638 | | @softchoice 8 2Design and Implementation BE IN THE KNOW Everyone has the same goal for an Office 365 migration: a successful move to the cloud. What’s unique is your starting point. You may be coming from Google Docs or Lotus Notes. Perhaps you’re transitioning from older versions of Office. Broad experience in terms of understanding these platforms and where you’re coming from is key. Appreciate how you are different It’s one thing to know Office 365 best practices. But it’s more important to apply them to your unique requirements and objectives. Are you regulated by HIPPA? What are your data encryption needs? How will your data be archived? These and other factors impact how you arrive at your final destination. Ensure the implementation runs smoothly Most employees shouldn’t be aware that a migration is even happening. To ensure a smooth transition, you need to determine the impact circle – or who will be affected by the migration. One key to success is testing Office 365 with a pilot group before rolling it out. Create a coexistence strategy that allows employees to use Office while the migration is taking place.
  9. 9. Connect with us today 1.800.268.7638 | | @softchoice 9 Think beyond day one When you’re strapped for time and resources, training is often the first thing to go. Make no mistake: no migration can be considered successful unless Office 365 is actually being used. Before you move to migration and testing, you need a plan for ‘Day two’. How will you teach employees about Office 365’s new features? How will you ensure usage? An adoption and support plan will empower users to get the most out of Office 365. This will help your move to the cloud be more successful in the long-run. “ ” Everyone has the same goal for an Office 365 migration: a successful move to the cloud. What’s unique is your starting point. Choosing an Office 365 Migration Partner | Phase 2: Design and Implementation
  10. 10. Connect with us today 1.800.268.7638 | | @softchoice 10 Many partners test Office 365 during a migration. If it looks like it works, they move on. What they often don’t do is validate that everything is working according to the original plan. For instance, you may create dummy mailboxes, send some test emails to them and proceed with your migration confident that everything is ship-shape. However, you need to make sure that all of your users have working email. The rule of thumb here is ‘expect, then inspect.’ A good plan, poorly executed results in failure. You need to test, then action, then validate. 3Migration and Validation BE CLEAR
  11. 11. Connect with us today 1.800.268.7638 | | @softchoice 11 The post-migration phase is the time to set yourself up for long-term success. This includes executing a support plan that states how you will manage changes in your organization going forward. What will happen if critical people in your organization leave? Your support plan should include all of the documentation that new users and IT staff need to pick up where others have left off. What Role Does Support Play in Your Vision for Office 365? Good documentation is enough for many organizations. If you’re moving to the cloud to eliminate support to focus on other priorities, it may make sense to move your support to the cloud as well. In the on-premise world, your staff responds to tickets and resolves incidents. With Office 365, your tickets go to a dedicated support center. Instead of resolving incidents directly, IT takes on the job of managing the escalation of issues with an external provider. It is also challenging to provide your mobile users with the round-the-clock support that they expect. If you don’t have the bandwidth to manage Office 365 in house, managed services – such as Softchoice’s Keystone Services – may make sense. This provides you with “always-on” monitoring, support and incident management for Office 365. A good managed services offering also includes regular business technology reviews and ongoing mentorship from Office 365 professionals who understand your environment and can help you plan for the future. 4Post-Migration BE READY
  12. 12. Connect with us today 1.800.268.7638 | | @softchoice 12 Key Takeaways I’ve covered a lot of ground. Hopefully this gives you a good sense of the most important considerations when evaluating a migration partner. In summary, a successful migration requires the following: Choosing an Office 365 Migration Partner | Overview BE ACCURATE BE READYBE CLEAR BE IN THE KNOW PROPERLY PLAN ASSESS THE PROJECT’S SCOPE, TIMEFRAME AND BUDGET. EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT OFFICE 365’S VALUE AND LIMITATIONS. CREATE MAINTAIN A STRONG CONSISTENT COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY. GET PREPARED FOR ANYTHING THAT COMES UP DURING THE MIGRATION AND BE READY TO PROVIDE SUPPORT ON DAY TWO.
  13. 13. Connect with us today 1.800.268.7638 | | @softchoice 13 About Softchoice. With over 40 locations across the U.S. and Canada, Softchoice is one of North America’s largest providers of IT solutions and services. The company’s holistic approach to technology includes solution design, implementation, and managed services. Through unique offerings like Softchoice Cloud, and deep expertise in Microsoft Office 365, Softchoice makes it easy for organizations to source, implement, and manage the right cloud solutions for their business. ©2014 Softchoice. All rights reserved. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Other guides in this series: »Operation Migration : Six lessons learned from migrating 20,000+ Microsoft Office 365™ mailboxes »The Essential Guide to Licensing Microsoft Office 365™ in the Cloud