Creating an Office 365 Migration Plan: Top 5 Considerations

Post Date: 05/19/2020
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There’s no denying that a lot of thought and planning is involved in making an Office 365 migration a success. A proper governance strategy, licensing strategy, and generally taking the time to plan things out are all necessary pieces of the migration puzzle.

Find Out What You’re Working With

Early on in the planning phase, you’ll want to take stock of the data you’ll be migrating. Our pre-scan tools are just one way of understanding how much data you’re moving and what a reasonable timeline might be for that amount. I’ve seen many customers who’re looking to make a move from one source to another, but they have tons more uncompliant data than they think they do because they simply can’t find surface it all. To avoid this, try to accurately account for everything and set realistic expectations for the move itself.

Prepare for Restrictions

In the COVID-19 world that we live in, planning is more important than ever because of the way various services have been impacted. Microsoft has stated that features will be much more restricted during the day to keep Office 365 performance up—in short, there’ll be much more throttling during business hours. To run a successful migration, however, you’re going to be putting a lot of pressure on your Office 365 tenant. To ensure it doesn’t get throttled or slow you down, overnight and weekend moves are highly advised.  Not only to make the performance really good, but also not to disrupt your users.

The same goes for migrations between tenants. So if you’re looking to combine tenants or move items from one tenant to another, the same idea will use the same APIs to do that keep that in mind.

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Avoid Impacting Your End Users

Finding the right migration tool is key. In a world like today, it’s not really reasonable to have hard cut-offs from one source to another when you’re migrating—especially when you’re moving large datasets. So you’re probably going to have a scenario when your source and destination are going to coexist. And if that’s the case, you’ll want to move the changes users are making while still working in that source destination.

The ideal tool would be one that follows best practices so your move goes smoothly while also making sure that you can support incrementals and allow your users not to be disrupted by this move. The most important thing is to keep business moving and allow users to do what they need to do by not disrupting them and moving them from one place to another. The more minimal impact to their workflows, the better.

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Prepare Your Userbase

A migration isn’t just the technology. Yes, there are tools, and yes, there’s the content move, but making sure your userbase knows where they’re going, what they’ll encounter there, and how to use the destination system if they haven’t used it already are equally as important. Proper training and communication with your userbase are both essential.

This is why a pilot set is often a great idea for new users. It lets you take a group of friendly users, bring them to the destination, try some of your governance and compliance plans, and make sure everything is working nicely.

Pilot groups can also be great advocates to the rest of your userbase. They’re colleagues, friends, and coworkers, so we want to make sure that move is smooth not just from a technology perspective, but from a user perspective. That comes with training, prep, planning, and communication.

Cloud-to-Cloud Migration

Cloud platforms are a lot alike, but also very different. The benefit of migrating between two cloud platforms is that all of your data is already in the cloud, and users will already be used to interacting with and sharing data in a cloud-based system. There’s less downloading, uploading, and adding attachments during the move.

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However, as stated before, cloud platforms do operate differently from one another. One thing to ask yourself is “How do permissions work? How does sharing work? How does access work? Do users authenticate the same way? Does “share with me” mean the same thing from one system to another?” Cloud systems typically make it easy to share content, but they all have their own quirks in that way. That’s why It’s vital to understand how access may be granted in the source and destination and try to replicate that so it’s easier for your users to transition.

Another consideration is security. Your data is going to be moving over the cloud, so be sure that whatever tool or method you’re using to move between the source and destination is secure. Data should be encrypted to the highest level and stored in a secure location while admins use best practices for downloading and uploading.

Then there’s throttling and API limitations. Because data is moving over a cloud service or it’s being downloaded somewhere, there are a lot of touchpoints and points of network impact that you want to make sure you’ve accounted for in the move. Some tools allow you to migrate directly without a download, but there are some challenges involved. Just because things are in the cloud doesn’t mean there aren’t any limitations on server speed and network throughput. All those things will still be impacted and need to be thought about even when moving from cloud to cloud.

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Closing Thoughts

Needless to say, there’s a lot to consider when creating a comprehensive Office 365 migration plan. From planning to restrictions to end user impact and beyond, we’ve really just scratched the surface here. For a deeper dive on Office 365 migration, check out our Office 365 and SharePoint Migration Checklist!

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Kate is AvePoint's Senior Vice President of Client Services and Product Strategy, specializing in project management, IT infrastructure, wireless service applications, and Agile project management.

View all posts by Kate Faaland

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