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Taking the Pressure off Exchange Hybrid Cloud Migrations

  • Premise-to-Cloud Exchange Migration Puts Pressure on Everyone 
  • Hybrid deployment offers better control, more options, less stress

 

“Cut-over” Even the word itself sounds abrupt.  The pressure of preparing all of your data, especially your critical Exchange email data, and then trying to move all of it all at once without creating disruption for users is neither a trivial project nor a welcome prospect.

With many companies moving to the Exchange Online component of Office 365, email migration becomes a primary concern.  Many are choosing to begin with a hybrid deployment in which some mailboxes are moved online while others remain on the company’s existing Exchange server.

Brad Anderson, corporate vice president, Windows Server & System Center, says that the hybrid approach can accommodate the way any organization grows, organizes and operates “in any setting, under any circumstances.” A key reason for going hybrid is that “this approach helps organizations avoid placing all of their eggs in one basket. Having all of your data in a single place makes you vulnerable to the occasional outage, and it also puts you at the mercy of your access to a particular physical or virtual location."

For others, the reason for starting with a hybrid deployment is simpler.  The less you have to move at one time, the less the risk of error or data loss.  Migrating groups of mailboxes on a scheduled basis over a period of time also dramatically reduces the likelihood of introducing disruption for the users.  It also gives administrators more time to more closely examine email content that may be better moved off to archive and take advantage of the migration as an opportunity to reduce the overall size of their Exchange message store.

Challenges

There are two obvious challenges in considering the deployment of a hybrid environment:

  1. Setting up and configuring a hybrid environment in which some mailboxes are on premise and others in the cloud is a complex task requiring knowledge of directory and federation services.  These allow the administrator to manage the location, data transport, and security considerations.
  2. Once the hybrid environment is established, it must be carefully monitored and managed.  There are many opportunities to economize and gain substantial efficiencies, but a lack of proper vigilance can result in outages and workflow disruption.

 

Leveraging a Proven Methodology

Another unique challenge in deploying a hybrid Exchange environment is the fact that there is no single established standard methodology documented and validated by Microsoft.
Many Exchange administrators are choosing to use Mailscape for Exchange Online from ENow to accelerate and smooth the setup and configuration of their hybrid deployments.  A finalist in The Best of TechEd 2014 Awards, Mailscape for Exchange Online automatically tests that the networking components, mail flow, Active Directory Federation Services, and DirSync components are setup correctly. 
Exchange Administrators themselves will want to know that the capabilities of Mailscape for Exchange Online include:

  • Network Port verification
    • Ensures that all necessary ports for a Hybrid deployment are open. Also monitors connection response times.
  • Microsoft End Point verification
    • Validates that all appropriate End Points for Exchange Online, ADFS and DirSync are available.
  • Internal Network monitoring
    • Verifies that users at your location can access Microsoft Datacenter’s via your network.
  • True ADFS functionality testing
    • Automatically performs a single sign on to verify that all components of ADFS are functioning correctly.
  • True DirSync functionality testing
    • Modifies an attribute of an on-premise user and then verifies if the change is made in the cloud directory.
  • Message size report
    • Any email over 20mb won’t get moved up to O365. This type of information is extremely important to gather up front. This report easily allows the admin to see which emails won’t be moved up and allow the admin to communicate with the end user beforehand to get that message saved so there are no surprises after migration.

Planning & Reporting
Reports generated using Mailscape for Exchange Online help administrators save time in preparation before users are migrated to the cloud.  Reports that will ease your transition to the cloud include:

  • Mailbox Size Report
    • Helps estimate overall amount of data.
    • Identify large mailboxes.
  • Message size report
    • Any email over 20mb won’t get moved up to O365. This type of information is extremely important to gather up front. This report easily allows the admin to see which emails won’t be moved up and allow the admin to communicate with the end user beforehand to get that message saved so there are no surprises after migration.
  • Inactive Mailboxes Report
    • Eliminate mailboxes that are not being used.
  • Mailbox Permissions Report
    • Easily and quickly identify shared mailboxes (Send As, Receive As, Full Access)
  • Distribution List Report
  • Message Domain Report
    • Identify all messaging domains to ensure proper migration.

Assuring the robustness of every Office 365 end user’s experience, as well as those whose mailboxes remain on-premise, is critical to the success of your deployment.  Mailscape for Exchange Online monitors the entire hybrid environment in real-time, allowing administrators to proactively ensure the best possible end user experience.  Remove fear of the cloud, increase user satisfaction, and dramatically improve your new platform adoption rates with Mailscape for Exchange Online.  For more information, visit enowsoftware.com.