GSX Blog

Prepare for These Surprises When Migrating to Office 365

Posted by Gary Steere on Thu, Mar 23, 2017

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If you’re considering making the big move to Microsoft Office 365, it’s important to know what the process entails and where costs may be hiding before you take the leap. Unfortunately, far too many customers migrate to Office 365 before they are ready. Knowing what surprises could be in store is crucial to helping you make successful decisions when preparing for your move to the cloud.

Microsoft has designed one of the most advanced computing platforms on the planet in Office 365. Office 365 has been architected to be incredibly secure and resilient. This architecture has been carefully planned to meet the needs of nearly all users who will use this platform. But meeting the needs of nearly all users clearly calls out the fact that it does not meet the needs of everyone.

The biggest surprise that pops up early in the migration involves costs associated with Internet connectivity. The economics here are quite simple – you just moved an entire business application to the Internet and faster Internet costs more money. On the surface, this should be something quite simple to evaluate; Microsoft offers free calculators that will tell you exactly how much speed you need to have.

Unfortunately, most companies lack the intricate understanding of their users’ behavior to properly use these calculators. If a company does not accurately understand the user population and how these individuals use Exchange or Skype for Business, many times they estimate. In practice, I find that the estimates can range from well-educated estimates, relying on actual data and filling minor gaps, to “Guestimates” where companies simply make numbers up.

There is a saying in technology – “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. How can a company assess peak usage and grant applications priority if they are using artificial numbers? Well, they can’t. And this surprise is where the cost comes from.

Perhaps the second biggest surprise that comes along when enterprises migrate to the cloud is the current state of management capabilities. Let’s Imagine a company with 100,000 employees, 35 locations and several divisions. It is possible that perhaps 100 different people might have to help support 1,000 users each. Right now, administration in Office 365 works as follows:

  • A user can be granted complete power, almost complete power, or no power.
  • The admin rights apply to all 100,000 users
  • There is no way to grant access to only the 1000 users that each admin should control.

I am a big fan of Microsoft. I think what Microsoft has accomplished in Office 365 is a massive technological success. But I believe in being direct when there is an issue. And unfortunately, Office 365’s management capabilities fail to meet the needs of large enterprises. This failure has existed for a very long time and in my opinion it should have been addressed.

As a result, large companies end up having to invest in expensive user management and reporting platforms. When considering that some companies have tens of thousands of users, the costs of these third-party tools can add up quickly -- a major surprise that often isn’t budgeted for.

So, what’s the best way to avoid these surprises and others from arising? Due diligence is key. Have your eyes wide open when you evaluate your move to Office 365. Don’t just take the word of any vendor -- take the time to do your research. And remember, even when Microsoft provides free migration services, moving to the cloud is never free. It requires understanding of your on-premises environment and how your users interact with the environment. Once you’ve properly examined and evaluated the costs and challenges involved, you’ll be able to make informed decisions for a successful cloud migration.

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Tags: Migration to Office 365, Office 365, cloud migration, Office 365 management, office 365 migration