Many articles were written in the past about migrating environment to Office 365. In this article I don’t want to do through the same again. However, let us talk instead about what we have to think about before we go through this (project) way.
How to start – Step 1: Inventory
Microsoft has a bulk of services in the cloud. In one hand we have Office 365 which contains Exchange online, Skype for Business (Teams), SharePoint, etc. in the other hand there is also the Azure cloud. Only with these two clouds we have almost endless options we can go with. However, there are also other cloud providers like AWS, G-Suite, Alibaba, etc.
That means it makes in any case absolutely sense, to create a detailed inventory of our on-premises inventory. This will help us to choose the right cloud services for our company and it makes it more easier to create a migration game plan.
Round 2: clean up
If you ever have moved from old apartment to a new one, or from one office to another one, you always make the cleanup. At home you throw all old things away you have not used for decades, an old Couch does not fit anymore to the new apartment, the same with the curtains. In the office you also clean up old notes, papers, mouse pad, etc.
So why also not do the same with your environment before the migration? Check your Active Directory for empty distribution or security groups before migrating to the Azure AD. Remove empty SharePoint Sites and groups, remove duplicated content and have a look on your Exchange environment, here we always can find something…
Round 3: prepare the cloud (your destination)
When you arrive the first time in your new apartment, the first thing you do is planning which function each room will have. One will be parents’ bedroom, another room for kids, next one is the living room, etc. “Same, same but different” it is with your destination environment. As we must check if the Couch fits into the living room, we have to check our databases if they are corrupted, check the customizations, prepare the domains which has to be presented and/or handled by the cloud. By the way, If you want to know how to add a domain using PowerShell to your Office 365 Tenant, you can check this Link HERE how to do that.
Round 4: communicate!
Migration can only be successful, if everyone is in your boat! If you have a family, you have to plan the apartment moving with them. Your partner and kids have to be involved in the progress, this prevents many complications and you will have less headache! In the business case it is the same. We always have to keep the focus that not all of our users have the same affinity to the IT like we have. Not all users are happy with the changes a migration is bringing with itself.
The best things we can do is to prepare documentations about what will be new, communicate clearly when what will be changed, we train our users, we have FAQ’s for our users which contains the needed content for the migration and the time after it.
Round 5: Migration…
So, the first four steps are successfully done, now we start with the migration itself… For that we work of our workflows we have planned in our play book. The onboard and third party tools are doing what they have to and if not we have the right Engineers as backup to fix unforeseen issues.
Round 6: Post migration
When the migration is done, we must ensure if everything we have migrated was successful and if it works as expected. We go to our users inform then about the status and try to get feedback from them. Sometimes we also need to motivate them that the new things are better than old ones. My experience in this point is to talk open with them and try to explain the solution in an “easy technical way”.
Last Round: Monitoring
Now our environment is running on Office 365. We have checked in a first way if everything is working as expected and we also made sure, that our users are happy with the new environment. – Cool…
However, we cannot check everything straight away after the migration, that is just one of the reasons why we need to monitor our new platform. In any case we need to monitor the new environment – in the first month even bit more intensive.
I have made many migrations in the past, one thing I can tell you for sure: there are no two migrations which works in the same way! It is very important to communicate open to all people involved and to make a good pay book.