Office 365 for Email – Migrations and Downtime

Office 365 for email – Migrations and Downtime.

Some of the questions we get asked all the time when switching clients to Office 365 for email is: ‘How long does it take?’ or ‘Will there be any downtime?’

I thought I would write a post about these two questions specifically, in the hope that it can at least put you the reader at ease when deciding if Office 365 for email is for your business.

‘How long does it take?’

This is not a simple question, but has a simple answer – it depends. The time it takes to perform an Office 365 mail migration depends on a number of factors, factors you should consider when planning to move your mail services.

How many mail boxes? Obviously if you have 5 mailboxes, it will take less time than if you have 50 mailboxes, and 50 mailboxes will take less time than 500 mailboxes and so on and so forth. The more users the more support and admin will be required for the transition.

What type of migration? There are 3 types of standard migrations that can be performed to migrate email to Office 365 email, Cutover Migration, Staged Migration and Hybrid Migration. This is of course assuming you are coming from some type of Exchange based solution whether it is On Premise or Hosted. We also perform what we like to refer to as a custom migration, which is where we might move you from POP, IMAP email from a different source like Gmail or Mac Mail Server etc etc. The type of migration required will affect the required time to perform the migration.

How much data? The amount of data to import into Office 365 email is generally the biggest factor in determining the amount of time required to perform a migration. If there are 10 mailboxes with 2Gb of email, this will be 20Gb of data that has to be uploaded to the Office 365 servers. Now I am not sure if you have ever tried to upload 20Gb of data on a poor ADSL2+ connection but it’s not great fun. Now imagine if you have 100 users with 10+Gb mail boxes.

Internet Speed? If you are importing your existing email into Office 365, and why wouldn’t you. The data has to be uploaded to the Office 365 servers, and depending on the migration type re-downloaded to sync your new mailbox. For example, if you are moving to Office 365 from a hosted IMAP solution like Gmail, then the email generally will be uploaded from those servers which you would assume would have a decent internet connection, but then you have to have Outlook connect to the Office 365 Exchange Servers and download all of your email, calendars and contacts, which depending on your Internet connection speed will vary.

Aftercare support? So you have migrated all of the data, users are connecting with Outlook and everything is going well. Until your phone starts ringing and a user no longer has their email address autocomplete from before the migration, or they are missing Calendar items or maybe they can’t connect their iPhone to Office 365 for email. Allow time to provide support for these types of requests. There will always be things that can get missed, the most common ones are Scan to Email for on premise scanners, signatures, and email address auto complete.

The time it takes is generally not an issue as generally there is no interruption to services while the migration is being performed – if planned correctly. We recently performed a staged migration of a Hosted Exchange 2010 server with over 1000 mailboxes and 3TB of mailbox store, this migration took weeks of planning and preparation and was seamless to the end users with very little impact to the hundreds of tenants hosted in that environment.

‘Will there be any downtime?’

If everything has been done correctly, there will be very little interruption to business email services. The majority of the work is done during the planning, preparation and migration phases, again, if planned and prepared correctly. At most the interruption should be while a mail client is re-configured to connect to Office 365 and the mailbox is synced, during this time if there are any urgent emails that are waiting to be sent or received, keep in mind the user can always use Outlook Web Access or the webmail client.

So if you are thinking of migrating to Office 365 for email, which is an awesome tool for any business ensure you plan thoroughly, stay informed and communicate with your users, this will ensure a smooth migration and everyone will be happy, and of course if you need help or would like someone to do the migration for you get in touch with us here at AUIT and we will certainly be able to help.