Build A Bulletproof Office 365 Migration Plan

office 365 migration planMany enterprises are now implementing their first Office 365 migration plan, and facing prioritization quandaries and technical hurdles along the way.

Despite promises of “simplicity in the cloud,” this is NOT a “flip the switch” type of decision.

The Office 365 portfolio includes over a half dozen major services with varied capabilities and interdependencies.  IT professionals must carefully plan their roadmaps based not only on their own organizations’ requirements, but also on the various Office 365 offerings’ strengths and weaknesses, and their differing maturity levels.  Enterprise IT must also deal with an increasingly rapid rate of product updates and releases from Microsoft — requiring aggressive change management best practices, and raising design and integration issues.

Start Your Office 365 Migration Plan with Service Prioritization

It sounds simple, but it makes all the difference:  decide which services to use, and in what order.  For example, once the identity synchronization and federation environment has been established with Office 365, Exchange Online is the first service that most organizations should evaluate and implement — because it has close parity to its on-premises counterpart, it works well in a hybrid implementation and has the least user impact when the migration is handled well.  However, other services that may appear to be easy first implementations are less likely to meet some of the organization’s requirements or have could have a big impact on users, the computing environment, policies, training, and the organization’s approach to content and collaboration.

A critical factor at this juncture is knowing the difference between the online and on-premise versions, and how well they integrate with other existing or oncoming systems.

Microsoft’s cloud-based directory and identity management service — is required to use Office 365, even if Microsoft Server AD is already installed on-premises. Because migration and integration between the two forms of AD is not straightforward, organizations need to assess the best approach for their organization to support federated identity with Office 365.

Design and Architecture Are Still Important

Once you know what services to use, the next step in your Office 365 Migration Plan is thorough design and architecture.  A common mistake is to overlook or underestimate identity and provisioning — a critical aspect that must be worked out early in the solution design process.  XMS Solutions recommends starting with a federated identity structure to serve as a foundation for the provisioning and security of all Office 365 services.  Also, consider that moving to services such as SharePoint Online involve not only migrating content, but also accounting for the entire ecosystem, including application functionality and customization.   This often leads to the need for hybrid implementations that can satisfy an organization’s requirements and leverage infrastructure to facilitate the delivery of these cloud services. Other areas that should be a key focus of Office 365 deployments include addressing enterprise mobility management issues and avoiding network-related performance problems — particularly in global installations.

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