Microsoft 365 is how your Microsoft Office Productivity Suite of products is now delivered to most clients. The Microsoft 365 Suite of products reside on a single cloud platform, combining best-in-class applications, with intelligent cloud services, advanced security, multi-factor authentication and cloud storage. Providing end users and small businesses an identical platform to design, discuss and collaborate. The cloud infrastructure, takes care of changes, rewrites as well as allowing multiple editors and versions to be created of important business workflows. This platform can either be run entirely in the cloud, in an hybrid environment both in cloud and on-premise or as a traditional on-premise product only.
To learn more about Microsoft 365 suite of products check out PIPs Microsoft 365 Information page
One of the largest hurdles in a seamless transition to Microsoft 365 is the data migration of years of on-premise data to the Microsoft data centers.
The first step is to identify the data for this new system may include things like-
- Local and Remote Active Directory Forests and Domains
- On-premise Exchange Server Mailboxes
- On-premise Exchange Server public folders
- Other On-premise Exchange Data & Email Data
- On-premise SharePoint sites and storage
- Email archives
- Email server scripts, signatures, aliases, rules and distribution lists
- Local shared folders and file storage
- SMTP server for printers and scanners
- External IMAP and POP Email services from third party Email service providers
Although all this data can amount to terabytes of data, taking a logical and methodical approach to splitting up cold, warm and hot data will segregate your data, allowing for a controlled staged migration.
For more information on Microsoft 365 migration plans and running a pilot migration check out PIPs “Microsoft 365 Migration Preparation Checklist”
Create a Microsoft 365 Tenant
Go to the Microsoft 365 Home page and create a new tenant. the Tennant will have the format –
(NOTE: if you are a PIP customer, please have PIP create your new tenant so that we can set it up correctly under ou umbrella, providing you with our support portal and our billing portal).
This will create a new platform in the Microsoft 365 Cloud for your company.
From this point you can start adding all of your real company wide domains to this tenant and making one of your domains i.e. yourcompany.com.au the primary domain.
Create Global Users, Administrators and security groups so that your team can complete the relevant setup.
Ensure you setup the right access for any SharePoint online or Microsoft Teams site you create.
Microsoft 365 AZURE Active Directory – Microsoft Entra ID
If migrating from Exchange or your own Active Directory, all that is needed in the new cloud based Active Directory is a trust relationship between your current domain and your new cloud domain.
Alternatively, you can login to the Azure Cloud AD and create Organizational Groups, Users, Groups and security policies from scratch for deployment.
Configure all two factor authentication, security certificates and trust relationships.
If you are running an onsite Domain Controller, Forest or Domain, as a part of Microsoft there are migration tools. Microsoft Entra Connect Sync Service will synchronize all information held in the on premise AD to Microsoft Entra ID. Synchronizing all user accounts and groups to the new environment , will provide a base for your hybrid migration.
Migrate Company Files and Data
One of the largest tasks, time wise is migrating all your company data from your on-premise storage to the Microsoft Cloud Storage. The best way to achieve this daunting task is to document the on-prem environment and catalogue all data that needs transferring. Categorize all data into cold, warm and hot storage. This way you can migrate all cold storage early on in the piece, setting up folders, hierarchies, access control and permissions early on and tweak where necessary.
To move your company files to Microsoft 365 SharePoint, you will need to:
- Create SharePoint sites for your teams and/or departments in the SharePoint app in Microsoft 365 or from the SharePoint admin center.
- Upload your files to the SharePoint site. You can drag and drop files from your computer or use the Upload button in the SharePoint site. You can also sync your files with OneDrive and then move them to SharePoint.
- Organize all the files in folders and libraries. You can create folders and libraries to group your files by category, project, or purpose. You can also add metadata, such as tags, keywords, or custom columns, to make your files easier to find and manage
- Share the folders and files with team members, groups and departments. Use the Share button in the SharePoint site or the file details pane. Setup local OneDrive accounts to link and synchronize SharePoint Shares and Folders for individual accounts providing a context in Windows for commonly used location.
- Use WebDAV Services on non Windows machines to create synchronization points for ease of access.
Migrating On-premises Exchange Server to Microsoft 365 Exchange
Your on-premise Microsoft Exchange Server / Exchange Farm must be Microsoft Exchange 2003 or later.
Exchange Server migration to Exchange online preparation –
- Count the number of users, preferably you want to have fewer than 100 mailboxes
- Be sure to have archived exchange mailboxes if possible to reduce the migration process of email data
- If possible reduce retention size in Exchange Admin Center and have users clean mailboxes months ahead of time.
- Make sure you have added your domain to the AZURE Active Directory
You will not need to add users/mailboxes to the new Microsoft 365 Exchange farm as they will be automatically created during migration
Once you have setup your domain, security groups and a trust between the two Email Farms you can start migrating the mail boxes.
You can leave this migration running for as many days as you require. Email will still come in and out of the old system as your MX records will still be set to deliver Email to the legacy on-premise servers. During this time the two Email server will continually synchronize all mailboxes to a point close in time.
On the night of cut over, the system administrator will need to “verify” the migration. At this point a last synchronization of Email mailboxes will occur and the trust/synchronization will stop.
At this point, you must change your MX record to point to the new Microsoft 365 Exchange farm.
You can then change your tcp_microsft records and restart your Outlook on all clients to connect to the new farm. Make sure you send and receive and Email from your Email address to an external Email address.
Remember most Outlook clients will be set to cache Email, so depending on how big mailboxes are, this could consume considerable bandwidth at this point, so careful planning for a smooth transition is required.
After you are happy with the synchronization of Email, transfer up all archived PST files leaving the large pst files to last or preferably overnight.
Migrating other Email platforms
To migrate your IMAP mailboxes to Microsoft 365 there is an import service in the online Exchange admin center. This tools will perform a cutover migration from your IMAP server to Microsoft 365. This migration method will transfer all your mailboxes, contacts, calendars, and tasks to the cloud platform in one go.
A cutover migration batch is the best option for small to medium-sized organizations that have less than 500 mailboxes and want to move everything to Microsoft 365 at once. If you have a larger or the contents of user mailboxes are more complex, utilizing csv files and batch migrations, you may want to consider a staged migration or a hybrid deployment instead.
Before you start the migration, you need to prepare your IMAP server and your Microsoft 365 environment. Here are the main steps you need to follow:
- Create a list of the mailboxes that you want to migrate, assign licenses to them in Microsoft 365.
- Connect your IMAP server to the Exchange admin center using a migration endpoint.
- Create a migration batch and start the migration process.
- Monitor the migration progress and fix any errors that may occur.
- Complete the migration and update your DNS records and MX records to point to Microsoft 365.
Migrating from POP, POP3 or Post Office Protocol based Email can be achieved in many ways.
- Exporting and attaching with Microsoft 365 Admin Centre
- Third-Party tools
- PowerShell scripts
To make sure the transition process isn’t a complex process, PIP typically recommends exporting Email to PST files and connecting them to your new exchange email account within Microsoft 365 Admin center. This ensures no data loss and operational efficiency.
- Export all users Emails from your POP3 mailboxes to PST files using your email client.
- Upload all PST files to either your personal OneDrive or Company SharePoint.
- Now attach each individuals PST files to their Exchange Online Email accounts within the Microsoft 365 Admin Centre.
- Users or IT teams can then decide what Email can be imported from the attached PST files
- Depending on what is imported PST files can be detached and removed after data integrity is ensured.
For further assistance for in ensuring a successful migration
Check out PIP’s “Microsoft 365 Migration Preparation Checklist” for a full checklist and best practices of cloud migration and data integrity
To learn more about Microsoft 365 suite of products check out PIPs Microsoft 365 Information page
The migrations from on-premise Office to Microsoft 365 cloud can be achieved overnight even for large organizations. As long as you document a migration plan, documenting your migration method ensuring you have accounted for, timeouts, data transfers, TTLS and obtained all passwords and required credentials.
Check out PIP’s “Microsoft 365 Migration Checklist“