In the second blog of this series, we told you how important it was for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to develop a solid migration plan to help their clients make the move to Office 365. In this final installment, we’ll look at the different migration methods available and how you can help your clients choose the right one to suit their needs.
Let’s face it. Migrating data from an Exchange Server to Office 365 is a complex process. No matter which method you choose, you’ll have to do a lot of planning and you’ll have to be ready for bumps along the way. So talk to your clients. Find out what kind of data they want to migrate and how much time they’re willing to spend on moving it to Office 365. Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have a better idea of which migration method will be the best solution for their business.
For more details on planning your migration, take a look at our Ultimate Office 365 Migration Guide.
Will it be Cutover, Hybrid, Staged or Third Party?
This is considered the easiest of all the migration methods. It’s also the migration of choice for many small business owners. All mailboxes, users, contacts and mail groups are transferred to Office 365 in one shot. It’s the easiest way to get a company’s existing email into Office 365 and it’s very useful for organizations that plan to move their entire email organization and manage their user accounts there. On the downside, cutover migrations can only handle up to 1,000 mailboxes and may take several days to complete, depending on the total number of users, contacts and mail volume the company wants to transfer. Some small businesses may prefer to do the migration in stages rather than waiting for a total transfer to be completed.
Contrary to the cutover migration, the hybrid model is a lot more complicated. Doing a hybrid migration involves moving some on-premises capabilities to Office 365 and leaving others to be managed in-house. The difficulty comes in deciding what should be transferred. For example, you may decide it’s just not worth the effort to migrate SharePoint servers that host older content to Office 365. This data can remain on-premises along with email archiving. Planning for this kind of migration is a strategic challenge because there are a number of platforms and systems involved in the transition. An MSP who demonstrates real expertise here can be of real value to his clients. Despite the difficulty involved, hybrid migrations can handle more than 2,000 mailboxes, which could be more suitable for larger businesses.
If your client doesn’t want to migrate all his resources at once, he might opt for a staged migration. In this case, you can transfer his mailboxes to Office 365 in smaller batches over several hours or even days. Once again, the migration time depends on the number of mailboxes and the volume of content to be transferred. Just like the cutover migration, a staged migration is limited to less than 1,000 mailboxes. There is little disruption for users because no email is being received at the older Exchange email server. In some cases, users may be required to restart Outlook and change their passwords when the migration is finished. Staged migrations work best with newer versions of Exchange email servers. If your client has a later version of the Exchange server, such as 2003 or 2007, you might suggest a cutover or hybrid migration until you can devise another plan.
Despite all we’ve told you about your value as a data migration expert, there’s another option for resellers who might not have the required expertise. Ask your cloud partner to handle it! Some providers have their own Office 365 migration tools to give resellers a hand. This is usually a dedicated team of experts that will guarantee seamless migration and onboarding for free as part of their service. Other providers will migrate your customers’ data for you, but they’ll charge a fee. This is an important point to consider. If you don’t have to pay for migration, it means you can make higher margins or pass on the savings to your clients.
Want to learn more about migrating data to Office 365? Download our free Office 365 migration guide here.