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October 26, 2020

Office 365 Migration

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We’ve been with the same exchange hosting provider for 10+ years. They are probably the best in the word and have always done a excellent job. I can’t say enough positive things about them.

Over the past few years, Microsoft has added products to the office suite that third party hosting providers like ours are not allowed to sell directly. For years we’ve jumped through hoops to make these additional products available for our clients. Sometimes the “workarounds” do not work as intended. This creates confusion and complaints for everyone.

Our clients deserve the full functionality of the Microsoft product suite with no additional hoops or burdens.

For this reason, we are migrating everyone to Microsoft Office 365.

This is a big change on the backend (server) and a small change on the front end (outlook / workstation). Outlook, email, webmail, calendar, and contacts all work the same. Office apps work the same (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.) and mobile phones work the same.

The spam filter is different. Spam will go to the junk folder and less legitimate mail (ham) will end up in junk. There is also the focused inbox (not a fan) but some love it.

The biggest change is is the ability for you to log into office.com with your actual email address (not the @onmicrosoft.com address than you never remember).

Microsoft forces third party hosting providers to add “onmicrosoft.com” to the end of user names. This causes significant confusion for users. The third most helpdesk ticket is about logging into office apps. Office asks for your email address, but won’t let you login with it and you must use the “@onmicrosoft.com” address instead. To add insult to injury, the password for your email and the @onmicrosoft.com are different, and they cannot be synchronized. Who needs 1 more password to remember?

Less headaches and more features is what you gain with this migration. We’ve already done several migrations and here are the questions that come up most frequently.

  • Q) What’s the new monthly cost? A) It costs the same. Your monthly bill will not increase.
  • Q) Why is our mail with a third party provider? A) Before O365, Microsoft did not host exchange servers. Microsoft started a few years ago and we waited until we felt confident it wouldn’t crash and take all your data with it.
  • Q) How long does the migration take? A) Actual time varies depending on the size of the company. We can migrate a client with ~100 users in 1-2 days and <50 users the same day. For larger clients we bring in additional resources to keep it under 3 days.
  • Q) Will I lose any mail? A) No. We copy server > server or outlook > outlook so no data is lost.
  • Q) Will email be down during the migration? A) No. Once we “flip the switch” all users can log into outlook.com and access their email and setup their phones.
  • Q) How long until our old email shows up in outlook.com? A) If we copy server > server the old mail is already on the new server. If we migrate outlook > outlook, you’re only waiting for the mail to restore. Actual time is based on the size of the mailbox but usually less than 3 hours.
  • Q) Why not always copy server > server? A) Cost. There is a license required for server > server migration. Outlook > outlook migration is free. For clients willing to invest in the server license to cut cost on labor, the server > server migration is faster and cheaper.
  • Q) What about the email on my phone? A) Phones are easy. After migration, simply remove the old account from your phone and add the new account. Viola! Email on your phone is working again.
  • Q) Will I lose my calendar? A) No. The migration moves everything (email, calendar, and contacts.
  • Q) I have hundreds of custom mail rules. What about those? A) Those will need to be recreated on the new server.
  • Q) What about my OOO settings? A) Those will need to be recreated on the new server.
  • Q) What about my autocomplete list? A) On outlook 2016 and newer, the autocomplete list is stored on the workstation. It will still be there after migration. On older versions of outlook the best answer is “it depends” more of a a “case by case” basis.
  • Q) When will teams start working? A) Teams requires an upgraded license and someone to set it up. After those things are done, you can sign into teams.
  • Q) When do we migrate? A) Since we’re moving everyone (100+ companies and originations) this will take most of 2021 to complete.
  • Q) I want to migrate now. A) Shoot me an email. Lets talk specifies and set a date.
  • Q) I want to migrate last. A) Not a problem.
  • Q) I don’t want to migrate. A) You can go last but you must migrate at some point…

Have a question not answered here? Don’t hesitate to ask. Our goal is to make this smooth…