Is Your Transition to the Cloud a Bit…Cloudy?

You’re not alone; however, interpretations vary when it comes to transitioning your messaging infrastructure to the cloud.

Moving a company’s messaging infrastructure to the cloud hit an all-time high in 2013—with the trajectory expected to continue. According to research*, 27% of business email boxes are currently located in the cloud, meaning many more cloud transitions will take place or are already in process. If your enterprise is taking on a migration endeavor this year, you should become familiar with your options.

Scenarios for Email Messaging in the Cloud
In a Hosted Exchange, an organization occupies its own instance of MS Exchange in a remote data center—either managed by the hosting provider or its own resources. Another choice is a multi-tenant MS Exchange environment, where multiple companies (or tenants) share a single instance of Exchange located in a remote data center—usually managed by the service provider. Messaging in the cloud can also refer to an MS Exchange environment located in the company's own data center, yet remotely managed by a service provider. Managed, dedicated, hosted, or shared Exchange falls under the category of messaging in a cloud, and one of the most popular examples of Exchange in a Cloud is Microsoft Office 365.

Whatever “flavor” an organization selects, a successful transition—one without disruption—should follow 4 basic steps.

Step One: Establish Interoperability
Workflow preservation is the ultimate goal of establishing interoperability between the old and new environments. To maintain user productivity throughout the transition, you must consider the integration of the on-premises infrastructure with that of the Cloud.  The ability to communicate between legacy and cloud e-mail and calendars is merely the beginning.  Active Directory integration and synchronization is a further example, not only facilitating e-mail interoperability, but also user login, single sign-on, access to applications and other critical operations.  Moving to the cloud creates a global infrastructure consisting of the on-premises and on-line components. Think “seamless” and “transparent.”

Step Two: Analysis & Rationalization
Migrating the typical Exchange messaging infrastructure requires more than simply transitioning user mailboxes. Client, browser, mobile access to mailboxes, external mail routing with virus and content scanning, and access to personal and shared content are all examples of messaging infrastructure components impacted by the transformation. You must determine which of these will transition to the cloud and how. Some assets will move to the cloud immediately, some may go to the cloud in the future, and others, such as Active Directory, will remain on-premise.  To ensure you make the right transition decisions, base them on the most complete and accurate information for your specific organization and user base.

Step Three: User Transition
Transitioning users transparently involves activating mailboxes and enabling proper mail routing, as well as client, browser and mobile access. Typically done in phases, a conservative plan may call for 1,000 or so users per week—but with the right process and support, the transition can easily ramp up to 5,000 or 10,000 weekly.  Don’t forget that user productivity is more critical that transition velocity.

Step Four: Content Migration
Moving “appropriate content” to the cloud, either to active mailboxes or to cloud-based archives, is the final step. The term "appropriate content" refers to those assets identified during Analysis & Rationalization that should remain in active mailboxes, versus content to be archived (either in the cloud or on-premise), moved into personal archives, or erased.

Bottom Line: While each transition to the cloud has its own distinct characteristics, these 4 basic steps comprise Binary Tree’s best practices. Our methodology has enabled successful migrations for some of the largest and most complex environments on the planet. Follow future blogs and webinars to learn more about our holistic approach to non-disruptive transformation solutions.

*Source: The Radicati Group, a technology research firm out of Palo Alto, CA