We all know there is a huge shift to the cloud as more and more companies are realizing the potential of cloud based solutions.
However, we here at the GSX Solutions Professional Services team recently came across a number of potential concerns that many of our customers and partners have had regarding their planned or in process migrations.
Today, I’d like to highlight and address some of those concerns as well as discuss the phases of an Office 365 migration.
I’ll also talk about some available tools from Microsoft that can help before, during and after an Office 365 migration.
One of the biggest fears that we’ve heard from customers is that there is no visibility into the Office 365 environment. As admins, we have all been used to having all of our servers, cables, network devices, etc. under our control, sometimes within our own sight! In the cloud, there’s the perception that you have no insight into what’s going on. While it can certainly be true from a hardware perspective (things like specific CPU, disk and RAM information for a server) there is a wealth of information available to you about the Office 365 environment.
Another common misconception about Office 365 migrations is that once a migration is completed any issues that come up and “no longer my problem.” Anyone who has gone through a migration can certainly tell you this isn’t the case. Regardless of who is hosting the physical servers and cables, and whoever’s pipes the bits travel over, the ultimate service being delivered to your customers (the end users) is your responsibility, and you better believe when there’s a service outage or performance degradation, your customers aren’t calling Microsoft, they’re calling you!
Phases of the migration
So now that we’ve discussed a few of the misconceptions associated with a migration, what are the actual phases you’ll be encountering and what are some of the items you need to deal with?
First would be the planning of the migration. You’ll need to make each site has proper network connectivity, any required on-premises hardware, test latency, DNS, etc. An idea of the number of sites required, what protocols and clients to use, information on current Exchange usage and whether a full migration or a hybrid setup makes sense are also needed.
Then comes the actual migration. During this process you’ll inevitably have some users on-premises and some in the cloud. Knowing the exact performance and service level for each set of users is critical to the success of the migration. An idea of the adoption rates is also key: exactly how many users are left to be migrated, number of mailboxes remaining, SharePoint sites left to migrate, etc.
Finally, after the migration is complete there are a number of “run and maintain” tasks you should keep an eye on, including being alerted to service interruptions and performance degradations, auditing licenses used and free as well as being able to actually troubleshoot any issues seen.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list but hopes to outline some of the major phases and concerns of the migration process.
Microsoft built-in tools available
We’ve addressed many of the common fears and misconceptions about Office 365 migrations, we had a look at some of the phases of the migration and now we’re ready to talk about some of the tools available to assist you during the migration and alleviate some of those concerns.
- Office 365 Portal (portal.office.com)
- Service health dashboard for Office 365
- License information
- Links to many of the other tools available
- Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer (MRCA) – http://testconnectivity.microsoft.com
- Cloud based connectivity and configuration checks
- Office 365 Client Performance Analyzer (OCPA) - https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Office-365-Client-Performance-Analyzer-e16b0928-bd38-423b-bd4e-b8402bc106aa
- Client based connectivity and performance tool
- Network performance and configuration
- PowerShell - https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj984289(v=exchg.160).aspx
- Almost all cmdlets available for on-prem and Office 365
- Highly customizable
- Office 365 APIs
- Can be used in cmdlets, other languages (VB, C, etc.) and even Excel
These are just a few of the tools available, there are many others. While they do have their advantages and help to provide performance and connectivity information, they can be difficult to automate and to create long term trending information and analysis.
Third parties solutions can help fill in these gaps as well as provide additional testing and metrics not available in other tools.
To have more information and comparison on each of the tool listed above, feel free to check the slides that we presented at the Cloud Admin Conf yesterday.