Is your company considering an Office 365 migration? Perhaps you’re currently working with an on-premises suite but want the advanced features and functionality that comes with a cloud-based solution? Well, you’re not alone.

However, many organizations don’t upgrade until there isn’t any other option left. Why? Perhaps it’s comfort with legacy systems that have served well over the previous decade. Another reason is many businesses still believe that if something isn’t broken, they don’t need to fix it. However, with managed Office 365 services, you can achieve the benefits today without the hassle. Continue reading to learn more about Office 365 migration and whether or not it takes a long time.

What does Office 365 include?

In a word, everything. Similarly to Office on-premises, Office 365 provides Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and more. How much more? It includes SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, OneNote, OneDrive for Business, Planner, Forms, and Flow.

A significant benefit from migrating to Office 365 is the ability to collaborate with your teams in real time by sharing documents internally and externally from any connected device. In fact, you can edit and share notes instantly or answer questions as they’re sent, ensuring increased productivity and efficiency. You no longer have to sort through hundreds or thousands of emails to find an update from a colleague or manager.

In addition, Office 365 migration is simple and straightforward. If it’s too complex, your managed Office 365 services partner can offer cloud-based services for any of the applications you need. With your Active Directory credentials, your end-users can access calendars, documents, email, and contacts from any connected device.

What else? Well, working with a managed Office 365 services provider means you will receive seamless updates. You don’t have to worry about installing updates and patches on each machine or using the Group Policy system. Instead, your Office 365 partner will automate updates as they are read.

On the other hand, you can request to set up standard releases to fit your timeline and process structure. Either way, your apps are always modern and ready to meet the digital needs of your employees and customers. Here are other reasons to migrate to Office 365:

Dependable expert support. Office 365 support is managed within the Admin Center, where users can submit support requests directly to Microsoft. Also, through the Admin Center, administrators can easily add and remove users, manage and update security settings, view user reports and statistics, and monitor the health dashboard to determine how Office 365 applications and connectivity are performing.

Cyber security. O365 has built-in, award-winning security, backed by Microsoft’s resources and experts. In addition to malware and spam filtering, you get extra layers, such as data loss prevention, multi-factor authentication, advanced threat protection, Safe Links, log-in auditing—all monitored from a user-friendly dashboard. Since Office 365 is hosted in the cloud using Microsoft Azure, your in-house team is relieved from maintaining data center requirements. Microsoft patches servers automatically, taking this responsibility off the shoulders of your IT team.

Why use a cloud-based Office suite?

Consider these primary reasons:

Decreased costs. The majority of clients we’ve migrated to ‘the Cloud’ have seen fairly significant cost reductions, mainly because when you shift to cloud-based apps, you will only pay for the resources you actually use.

With traditional hosting environments you typically had to rent or buy a server with a fixed sized processor, RAM and disk space. So to ensure apps performed well, you’d usually have to overestimate what you needed and it was pretty much fixed for the lifetime of the contract. This meant you ended up paying for huge servers with resources that were hardly used.

Office 365 allows you to increase and decrease the resources you have allocated at the touch of a button, meaning you only pay for what you actually use - you have infinite control.

Flexibility. With traditional Office suites, you had to order all this up-front, wait for the host to set it all up, then configure it for your own specific needs. Once set up it was basically fixed for the duration of the contract.

Office 365’s apps provide much greater flexibility. You can fire-up new environments at the click of a button and turn off redundant environments when they are not used.

Scalability and performance. With cloud-based apps you can increase and decrease the power and capacity of your office output really easily.

Convenience. Cloud hosting environments have redundancy built in by default. There is no need to implement expensive and complex backup and disaster recovery plans. Long gone are the days where you had to take tapes offsite every day/week/month.

Reduce in-house team’s workload. With no need to constantly monitor and install operating patches and upgrades, there is no need for the traditional Sys Admin role. Platforms like Azure manage all the updates for you so you don’t need to care about the OS, in fact there is no way you can install any updates when using Web Apps - you can’t remote desktop to them anyway!

Data backup and recovery. Moving to Office 365 has inherent benefits associated with any technology deployed in the cloud:

When you switch from Office on-premises to Office 365, you no longer need to worry about the time or money required to replace or upgrade hardware like email servers, and there’s no need for backups. Office 365 includes Exchange Online, so after a one-time movement of mailboxes, you’re done with all that.

With on-premises file storage and exchange servers, everything must be maintained by your IT team. Shared file locations, email distribution lists, archiving, and security groups must be created and maintained. With Office 365, this functionally can be self-managed by users, which is convenient for everyone and reduces user requests. Users can create groups, assign members, and set up teams.

Office 365 offers more storage capacity for files than most organizations will ever need, and your IT staff will be happy to hear they no longer have to manage storage space locally. If a user’s account is intentionally disabled, all files will be automatically archived or removed after 30 days.

Files can be dragged and dropped to OneDrive and accessed from other devices. Your OneDrive automatically syncs your files and changes to all your other devices, including deletions. No more saving and reconciling multiple versions of files.

Since Active Directory is synched from your on-premises servers to Azure and is available even if your on-premises Active Directory is unreachable, you no longer have to build redundancy in your on-premises environment because it is being managed in the cloud.

If you have Dynamics Business Central online, it’s advisable to build Office 365 on the same tenant. By doing this, your users can access Business Central directly from their email addresses without additional setup or configuration.

Does Office 365 migration take a long time?

The first step in a migration is to put together a plan. Consider the following steps:

Migration type. What type of migration will you be performing? It is important to understand what type of migration you will be performing because it will have an impact on the time it takes to complete the migration.

Where will the migration start? File shares are often riddled with hundreds of folders and unruly permissions. File names can contain too many characters which can cause issues with URL boundaries.

Are you migrating older versions of Sharepoint? Depending on how many versions behind you are in SharePoint you may have adopted features or solutions that have become deprecated. These features must be dealt with prior to starting your move to a newer version of the platform, such as migrating to Office 365.

Migrating to Office 365 may uncover various issues with features and speed if you aren’t prepared for it. In contrast, an experienced Office 365 vendor will have the tools and expertise to offer customization and bring over sites, forms, and workflows successfully.

Do you need to plan for Office 365 migration? Absolutely. It starts with deciding what you want to migrate. Read on for other items to plan for and think about.

Do users need to be involved? The answer is yes. Regardless of where content is being migrated from, most likely you will need to work with your users at some point to either assist with cleaning up content (purging/archiving/deleting) or deciding where the content needs to go. As you assess your content (Use our SharePoint Migration Checklist) you may run into issues with checked out files, abandoned sites, or if moving from a file share, file or folder – paths that are too long.

Before you migrate, it’s crucial to scrape and clean up your content. So, add time to your deadline for allowing your teams to scrub their content and tell them where it needs to go. In addition, set aside days where migration will have the least impact on your business workflows, such as weekends, holidays, or after hours. If you do use a weekend, then determine which weekend will make the most sense.

Do you run a fast-paced environment? Is your environment entirely on-premises or is it a hybrid? How does your cyber security system look? Is it complicated? These are just a few of the components that will affect the pace of your Office 365 migration. Your Office 365 managed services partner can run test migrations to determine how long it will take given your current infrastructure. They can also recommend the most expedient course of action.

Also, consider how Office 365 might affect a shared tenant environment. If you move a lot of content during regular business hours, it may impact your tenant. The good news is with the right partner, you don’t have to worry about these aspects of the process.

Once your managed Office 365 services partner has completed the migration, it’s still vital to check your content and perhaps execute one more clean up depending on your needs and environment. If you have any hard-coded links, you might have to alert your vendor to fix them. Invariably, hard-coding links is not recommended. Think of which end-users will be needed to perform some content clean up.

Ready to get started?

Office 365 migration does not have to take a long time nor does it have to be complicated. By partnering with SSI, getting started with Office 365 migration is easy.