Does Moving to the Cloud Mean Moving EVERYTHING to the Cloud? Not Exactly!

Nor would you want it to.

 When it comes to moving your old Exchange messaging infrastructure to a new cloud-based platform, you could say interoperability—the preservation of workflow throughout the entire migration process—is priority one. Interoperability is also the first step in Binary Tree’s 4-step transformation process. In fact, interoperability is so important that I’ll be covering the topic in two separate blog postings, so be sure to check out Part II next week after you read Part I here.

When migrating to the cloud, there’s a common misconception that the entire messaging structure is moving to the cloud. This is simply not true nor, in most instances, would you want it to be.  To better understand why, simply consider what truly constitutes the “messaging infrastructure.” It’s not just mail servers and user mailboxes; it’s also Active Directory, network, security, virus and content scanning, archiving and retrieval, e-search and e-discovery, and still more. You can and will transition certain components to the cloud, but certainly not all!

 Because messaging is a critical and fundamental application within the corporate infrastructure, it affects all communications, internally and externally. Its reach and impact are unparalleled—especially when you consider the number of internal and external users affected and the need for seamless integration. You want to own, see and access your email for many reasons:

  1. Uninterrupted Access: you may need to access old emails and other messaging content for convenience, business deliverables or compliance
  2. Email Delivery Confidence: you need to be sure that emails are delivered to the desired destination and mitigate your company’s risk of not doing so in a timely manner (or, worse yet, not at all)
  3. Legal/Regulatory/Security Considerations: this is especially true for financial compliance and healthcare privacy

So, what should stay on-premises?

  • To start, your network, DNS and firewalls. If your DNS isn’t working, it’s not only your email not getting delivered. If your network is down, users can’t talk to servers or access applications—in other words, they can’t perform their regular operational functions
  • Next, Active Directory also needs to stay on-premises; it’s not only a messaging directory—it’s the cornerstone of the entire corporate infrastructure. 
  • Last, public and private folders: Legal and other compliance or regulatory considerations may require that certain private and shared mailboxes remain on-premises, forcing a hybrid Exchange deployment. You need to consider both corporate and personal archives when determining what stays on-premises. Don’t forget that your users’ workstations are also part of your local messaging infrastructure. 

Bottom Line: Moving to the cloud isn’t as simple as just moving mailboxes. It requires an intelligent approach—a best-practices-based methodology, starting with interoperability and an understanding and evaluation of all corporate assets to identify those that should and should not leave the enterprise. Ultimately, you need to consider what moves to the cloud and what should remain on-premise in Step 1 of your migration. My next blog, Part II of Interoperability, will focus on a gradual, or phased, transition at high velocity while preserving user workflow productivity.