Your complete, high-level guide to migration in 2023

Dustin Lee-Duxbury

As the shift towards Microsoft SaaS platforms in the business world continues to pick up pace our Head of Architecture, Dustin Lee-Duxbury, gives a simple guide to what should be considered before, during and after a migration.

Three young businesspeople conversing before a large office window at sundown

Complex migrations should always be implemented by specialists to ensure a disruption-free, cost-effective move, but we know that many businesses considering digital transformation will benefit from a transparent and accurate view of what is involved to get the most out of their investment.

Considerations pre-migration

There is a lot to consider when you are thinking about a migration. Below are some of the things we encourage customers to think about.

  1. Cost: Whilst migrating to Microsoft 365 can positively impact your bottom line in the long run, there may be a required upfront investment for licenses and subscription fees. Understanding and evaluating the costs and the different licensing options, including potential platform benefits, is a must.
  2. Compatibility: Customers need to fully ensure that their existing systems and applications are compatible with Microsoft 365, this includes but is not limited to, current email servers, productivity software and custom applications that you rely on with a future dependence on services replaced by Microsoft 365 products and services.
  3. Data Migration: Migrating your data to Microsoft 365 will likely involve moving large amounts of data, including emails, documents, and other files. It is important to plan for migrations carefully and consider using specialist tools, services, or third-party applications to lower disruption and complexity.
  4. User training: Depending on the level of familiarity your staff have with Microsoft 365 products, it may be necessary to provide training to ensure a smooth transition. This could just include new features and functionality training or moving from a completely different platform (Google to M365 for instance).
  5. Security: Whilst Microsoft 365 is secure by nature, there are still a lot of considerations that need to be reviewed against your company’s specific security needs. This might involve additional configurations or the use of third-party tools.
  6. Integrations: Microsoft 365 offers several integration options, with Microsoft and non-Microsoft products. Early discovery of these integrations and how they can fit into your companies existing workflows can have immediate impact on productivity.
  7. Ongoing maintenance, management, and support: Microsoft 365 requires ongoing maintenance and management to ensure that it’s functioning as optimally as possible. This includes items such as licensing usage, types of licensing in use, reviews of data usage amongst other tasks. Ensure you have a support team and a managed service that provides these services.

Steps taken during migration

Migrating from an on-premises environment to Microsoft 365 involves moving your company’s data, applications, and infrastructure to the Microsoft Cloud. Below is the typical migration plan for migrating to the Microsoft Cloud Stack.

  1. Assess the current environment: Complete a full review of the current state of your company’s on-prem environment. This generally involves an asset inventory of hardware, software, and data that you will be moving to the cloud.
  2. Determine the company’s migration goals: Define the specific goals you want to achieve through the migration. Examples of reasons why most companies migrate include: improving collaboration, increasing security, reducing costs.
  3. Choose a migration strategy: There are several approaches to migrating to Microsoft 365, these include cutover migrations, staged migrations or even hybrid migrations. Depending on your company’s requirements, you will need to choose a strategy that fits your needs.
  4. Plan for coexistence: During the migration to Microsoft 365, there will be a coexistence period, if you are using a hybrid migration approach, you will need to plan for directory synchronization and other considerations.
  5. Prepare for the migration: This includes cleaning up your current on-prem environment, preparing staff by communicating the changes, and initial configuration of the cloud environment including licenses and subscription choices.
  6. Migration of data and applications: Once the preparation stage has been completed, the migration can begin by moving your data and applications to the cloud. This stage involves using tools provided by Microsoft, or third-party solutions. The time to complete the migration of data and applications depends on the amount of data and complexity required to migrate them.
  7. Testing and validation: After your data and applications have been migrated, it is important to test and validate that everything is working as expected. At this stage, there is still a great amount of coexistence of data which allows for failback and recovery.
  8. Cutover to Microsoft 365: Once you have tested and validated the migration, a cut over to the cloud can commence. This involves switching your users and applications over to the new environment and removing any dependencies on old, on-prem infrastructure or services. Migrating your mail flow to the cloud is one example of task performed at this stage.
  9. Monitor and optimize: After the cutover, it is advisable to monitor the environment, and ensure everything is running as expected. There will be a period where some changes are necessary to optimize the user experience or improve performance and efficiency. Once this part of the project is complete, handover to operations can be completed.
  10. Documentation and handover: Complete any required documentation including support guides, and handover to the operations and support teams. Ensure that all end users are trained on the solutions – securing buy in from managers and team leaders to make this work.

If you'd like to find out more about what migrating to Microsoft 365 can help your business to achieve, get in touch with us today.