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M365 Migration – Preparation

If you’ve been following along, you know we talked about planning your migration last time.

Now let’s talk about the preparation that should happen before you start migrating things. A lot of the “how” of this depends on the size of your environment, the tools that you have available, or the budget to buy tools. Whichever the case, the preparation is the same in principle. Some of the preparation is the gathering of information, and some is preparing the new O365 tenant. You may believe you have a well-documented environment and don’t need to do the information gathering. That would be a mistake. The investigation doesn’t take much work; it will either validate your documentation or show you your gaps.

As you gather data on your environment and how people use it, you will find ‘scraps.’ Leftover distribution groups that no one uses anymore. Shared mailboxes that don’t have any current employees as members. SharePoint sites that haven’t been touched in over a year. Are those still needed, maybe for historical purposes? This phase is kind of like packing your home for a move. You find junk you don’t want to take with you, so you get rid of it. This is a good thing, but don’t get too caught up in it, or it will take all the time you have allotted for the migration. Of course, if your organization has excellent change management processes and regular review of resources, this will be a quick validation that everyone has been following the rules.

For most of us, who have had a continuously running Exchange and SharePoint environment for over 20 years, it’s like suddenly remembering you have a second attic over the garage. #shudder#

Measure your existing environment.

The first thing to measure is the number of users who will be taking part. Does every employee have an Active Directory account? Mailbox? Do all users have PCs or do some work purely from a mobile device like a phone or tablet? Are all inactive users isolated to a specific Organizational Unit or removed altogether?

Obviously, some of this can be checked quickly, and a touch of PowerShell can find out lots. Again, there are toolsets like ManageEngine’s suite or Quest’s migration tools that can simplify many of the steps. I think it’s still critical to understand what’s happening beneath the hood, and that understanding will help you make important decisions when and if something doesn’t go according to plan.

Whatever tools you use, here is a list of essential questions you need to be able to answer before you begin.

The Checklist

  • Users & Computers
    • How many active users do you have?
    • How many computers do you have?
    • How many mobile devices?
  • Mailboxes
    • How many mailboxes are you migrating?
    • What is the volume of each mailbox ( incoming and outgoing)?
    • What is the size of each mailbox?
      • Note: Size and volume may seem synonymous, but some users send and receive a high volume of emails but don’t KEEP them, or the individual messages are very small. This would make you look at them as if they are light users, when in fact, they are power users, and these folks are sprinters vs. powerlifters.
    • How many of each type of mailbox do you have to migrate? User/Shared/Semi-shared/Service accounts
    • Who are the owners and members of the shared/service mailboxes?
    • Who are the owners and members of each Distribution list?
  • SharePoint
    • How many sites are migrating, if not all?
    • What ‘mapped network drives’ are becoming SharePoint sites?
    • Do you have Dropbox migrations as well?
  • OneDrive
    • How and where are end users’ My Documents, Desktop, and Pictures stored now?
    • What is the size of the user’s files?
    • Have you scanned the files for exceptions?

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