Overcoming the Single Forest Synchronization Limit when Migrating to Office 365

Frequently, our clients at Binary Tree are attempting to migrate to Microsoft Office 365, but have a fairly complex multi-forest infrastructure.

Overcoming the Office 365 Migration Synchronization LimitOne recent example involved a large city government where every organization within the public sector hierarchy had their own environment—including the library, public works department, police station, mayor’s office, and airport—over a dozen in all!

This scenario is also common in businesses where one unit spins off, or an acquired company keeps its own email and directory assets separate from the main corporation.

The Challenge… Office 365 Will Only Sync to One Active Directory Forest
The challenge in this type of migration lies in the fact that Microsoft will only allow you to sync one—and only one—forest up into the cloud. While you might conclude that you have to perform multiple migrations, that would add an expensive, difficult to deploy, and completely unnecessary level of complexity to what can be a streamlined, logical process.

There are several products available in the market, however, most of them are expensive and difficult to deploy. Furthermore, most do not deal with the technical components of setting targeted addresses to get your mail routed properly.

The Solution… A SMART Approach and Software that Synchronizes the Forests, Migrates the Users to the Cloud, and Consolidates the Remaining Infrastructure
Instead, we recommend utilizing three of Binary Tree’s automated solutions: SMART Directory Sync, E2E Complete, and SMART Active Directory Migrator. This combination will allow you to facilitate the migration of multiple forests into a single tenant easily and very cost effectively. These products provide a comprehensive solution to a complex project.

Setup Synchronization Between the Forests
The first step is to decide which AD forest will be your “primary” forest and will be synchronized directly with Office 365. Then before you sync to Office 365, useSMART Directory Sync to synchronize each of your other “secondary” forests to the “primary” forest. Then sync the user objects from the consolidated “primary” forest into the cloud using Microsoft’s DirSync product that’s part of Office 365.

Migrate Users from the Forests to Office 365
Next, using E2E Complete, you would then issue the request to move those users to the target, basically telling Office 365 to get the mail from the consolidated forest.

Lastly, Consolidate Your Forests
After you deploy your email migration successfully, you can collapse all the forests and move all of your applications into a single, consolidated forest. Then use Binary Tree’s SMART Active Directory Migrator to finish the job of moving the rest of your assets—groups, applications, servers, workstations, and passwords.

I hope that I’ve made you aware that performing these types of potentially complex migrations does not necessarily have to be that difficult. By using Binary Tree’s products and SMART methodology, we can take a potentially expensive and time-consuming project and approach it in a much simpler manner. Migrations are complex by definition, so a lot of planning and preparation work needs to still be done ahead of time. However, with Binary Tree, your can overcome a lot of the complexity and make seamless migrations doable!