Office 365 Migration: Where to Start?

June 26, 2020

With any large IT undertaking —  think: migrating a large company of 20,000 employees from an on-prem posture to Office 365 in the cloud — the big question becomes: Where to Start?

As ROI is important, and maybe even the reason for undertaking the exercise in the first place, does an organization need an E1, E3, or an E5 license?  Are there other alternatives to consider, such as an F1 license?  Contrary to popular belief, is it is possible to mix and match the various licensing models to achieve maximum efficiency to reduce the overall costs to the business as intended?  The answer to all of the above is “Yes”.

Do Your Homework In order to keep the migration costs in line with expectations and the budgets that have been allocate, it really pays to do the homework to understand the ins and outs of the various options. The potential for substantial savings exists when applying individual licenses to individual users and their particular roles in an organization, rather than the goals of the business as a whole.

Set a Solid Foundation All good builders recommend starting a home with a solid foundation. In the case of a data migration, it is creating the proper construct to ensure future cloud projects have a sound basis for success. Moving large corporate IT infrastructures with multiple platforms, hundreds of data feeds, and a host of applications to O365 is no different. This is especially true in the case of home-grown legacy applications that were created and supported by people who are no longer with the company or have moved onto a different role.

Understand Licensing and Related Pitfalls The planning phase and understanding the potential licensing pitfalls is equally as important as the security aspects and execution of the project itself, given there are a myriad of upfront costs and considerations as wells as decisions that need to be made prior to migrating any on-prem data to the cloud. Some of these challenges are obvious, others not so much. Ultimately, the model chosen comes down to the type of business or vertical in which an organization does business. The good news is licensing is relatively simple for companies with fewer employees who all have the same roles and functions required to meet the daily goals of the business. The potential for real savings comes when larger companies take the time to plan and review the different licensing scenarios as well as the overall costs for each one — you’ll want to ensure that someone who is in charge of physical security or office management isn’t issued a costly E3 license with all the bells and whistles that does not apply to their particular role in the company.

Data Age, Access and Permissions Understanding the age of the data to be migrated is equally important, as it relates to corporate retention policies. There is little sense in moving data that either should have been deleted previously or archived off to tape or other medium. It is critical to know how old the data is in the files system as well as SharePoint and Public Folders as well. Another major point to consider in planning a migration to Office 365 is understanding the permissions, access, and data ownership to the reams of corporate data that is out in the wild that will need to be moved into Office 365.

There are other technical and significant infrastructure issues to consider as well when beginning the journey to O365, as large organizations have a tendency to fall behind on their versions of Windows for servers (R2) and desktops. Therefore, the potential for having to perform upgrades to avoid unsupported or soon-to-be unsupported versions is very real and another additional cost to consider.

For any organization who is struggling to answer some of these basic questions, SPHERE has the knowledge and expertise around Office 365 to answer these important questions as well as provide the services, the software and the workflows necessary to enable complex IT organizations to communicate with their user-base to ensure organizations are procuring the proper licenses for their employees as well as migrating the properly permissioned data to Office 365.



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