Have you ever considered switching to Office 365? Done some research and thought that it could be a headache? Need someone to guide you in the right direction to make sure nothing has been missed? Well, if you match any of the criteria above and are serious about the switch, don’t go pressing that little arrow pointing left on your browser, grab yourself a coffee as I am about to help make your decision a whole lot easier!
Everyone has different ways of doings things but I will explain my method and how I manage to make sure that nothing is missed to allow the best possible user experience. With any luck, you can use some of my tips and put this into your own plan.
Information Gathering and Preparation
Ensure you know which licence type your business needs, purchase the required amount and setup your tenant. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to prepare everything pre-migration, this includes…
1. Creating the CSV files to import into Office 365 (you can download a blank template from within your tenant). Keep this safe! You’re going to need them.
2. Information for any third-party tool you wish to use (we will touch more on this later).
3. Commands for creating shared mailboxes, giving permissions to mailboxes, creating distribution groups and anything else you wish to setup. This can be done through PowerShell meaning you won’t need to click 10,000 times in the GUI. Interestingly, this can actually be fun!
Office 365 Portal Configuration
1. Start by documenting your Administrator Username and Password - keep this safe, you won’t get very far without it.
2. Next step is to get all your accepted domains into Office365 that will be used in your organisation. Make sure you add the TXT records, CNAMES, SRV Records. For now, I suggest leaving MX, Autodiscover & SPF.
3. Make sure you have filled out the CSV and imported your users into Office 365 (if you are not using Azure Active Directory Synchronisation).
4. Assign the required licences to the Users and give it 5 minutes whilst it provisions their mailboxes. Probably make a brew at this stage …
5. Now that we have the mailboxes ready we can configure them as necessary. Add aliases, add any mailbox permissions or any mail flow rules.
Let’s get to grips with how we can minimise the clicks and speed up the process. With a bit of googling we can find pretty much any command to add permissions, create shared mailboxes, add groups, create room mailboxes and any calendar permissions.
We can create the commands in Excel by breaking up the commands into cells and then copy and pasting the blanks. (Pssst! We should already have “the blanks” from our Import Sheet, see it’s easier already isn’t it?)
So, what are these Excel sheets you’re talking about, Kyran? - I hear you ask.
As you can see I have broken up the command into individual cells and highlighted the cells in red where we need to fill in the blanks. All I do then is concatenate the cells and voila! I have my PowerShell commands ready to copy and paste into PowerShell and most of the hard work is done in the preparation. It also means should you need to make any changes going forward we can revisit these Excel sheets and go again. You don’t even have to log in to the portal.
I have these types of Excel sheets for the following:
• Giving permissions but disabling Auto Mapping
• Calendar Permissions
• Creating groups
• Mailbox Permissions for both Shared and User Mailboxes
• Password Modification (setting passwords but disabling the need to change it at first log on)
• Creating Room Mailboxes
• Creating Shared Mailboxes
• Changing User Principal Names
My next step is to configure our own systems to connect the two mailboxes (Source and Destination) and migrate the mailbox data. This includes Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Tasks, Notes and Rules.
There are four types of mailbox migration. Cutover, Staged, Hybrid and 3rd Party. See this article to learn about each type and work out which suits your organisation the best. https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn592150(v=exchg.150).aspx
Once you have decided the migration strategy and your Office365 tenant is fully configured and you think you’re ready to go live on Office 365, well you’re almost there. You then must work out our strategy and plan to deploy it.
I suggest it looks something like this:
1. Agree a migration date and time with the client or if you are an Internal Engineer, then speak to the authorities and tell them it’s time!
2. Create an "Office 365 Migration Important Information email". Ideally this wants to go to your main contact and a slimmed down version to all end users. Include in this a rough plan, Usernames and Password, links to OWA for temporary email access whilst you configure Outlook, information for adding email accounts to mobile devices.
3. Make sure everyone has stopped using email by a specific time. This should be discussed with your contact and included in the email above.
4. Change MX Records to look at Office 365 and delete the old ones, add the SPF and Autodisover and verify them on Office 365. Do this for all accepted domains.
5. Once the DNS records have propagated on Office365 and your domain is fully configured, re-run the migration one last time to get all email over to Office 365.
6. Remove the SCP record from within ADSI Edit - only do this if you are decommissioning your on-premise Exchange as it will help with any Autodiscover issues when adding the Office 365 accounts to Outlook. This isn’t necessary and so only do this if you need to.
7. Log in to Office 365 as an end user and test email functionality to make sure you can both send and receive.
8. Lastly, stop the Exchange services and disable them. Remembering to take Exchange out of your backup job as these might start failing. Another headache we do not need right now.
If I have helped make the decision to migrate easier, then I have done my job! And if you've got any further questions, this blog might help: https://resolve.co.uk/blog/article/most-common-office-365-questions
On the other hand, if I have persuaded you that I am an expert in this and would like us to do this for you, then give us a call on 0114 2994050 or complete the box below.