The Cloud Adds Layers of Complexity During M&A Integration

The fact that Cloud Computing has become a norm in today’s IT operations is no longer debatable.  You don’t need to be in IT to be well aware of this fact; various media sources make this point on a daily basis.  Almost every company has established some sort of a cloud presence.  Your company’s instance in the cloud is referred to as a Tenant.  The question that begs to be addressed is what is the impact of the cloud on IT integration as part of an M&A activity?  Initially, IT integration as a whole was the goal of this article, but since the scope of the topic is too broad, let’s narrow the focus on a very specific aspect of IT integration: corporate email integration.

Tenant-to-Tenant-to-On-Premises Integration

First, let’s establish some basic foundation for our discussion: corporate email is as critical of an IT application as any other, albeit frequently overlooked in favor of more glamorous and resource-consuming ones.  These days, when you talk about email, you actually refer to a complex set of functionality that includes sending and receiving simple and complex messages, scheduling and participating in various calendar activities, accessing corporate and personal directories of contacts, and interfacing with a variety of mail-integrated applications.  As far as a regular corporate user is concerned, email should work as reliably and seamlessly as a phone or a light switch.  The same expectation remains, when two corporations merge and start operating as one.  So, does cloud email make meeting this expectation more or less challenging?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?

The answer is: more challenging, and here is why. 

First, your cloud email tenant is not an isolated and disconnected application, but rather an extension of your corporate infrastructure in the cloud.  It is often secured, administered, and controlled by the same set of credentials as the rest of your on-premises environment.  Thus, any cloud email integration almost invariably starts with the on-premises identity integration, which is subsequently propagated into the cloud.  It’s difficult enough to make two on-premises identity management systems play nice with one another, but adding a cloud layer to this combination results in much greater complexity.

Then, the process continues with the mail flow transition from the old tenant to the new one; otherwise, emails sent by your customers, partners, vendors, and family members start getting rejected, which can wreak havoc on your business and personal relationships.  The problem is that cloud email tenants are not normally designed to easily interact with other tenants; tenant vendors are much more interested in getting subscribers in then letting them out. It’s like the song goes, “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”  This often means finding an alternative mail routing solution to bypass cloud tenant limitations.

Finally, you can move mailbox content from one tenant to another, which is also a demanding, but more straightforward task.  Still, it’s harder to migrate content of cloud-based mailboxes than those that are on-premises.  Once you are finished with mailbox migration, you can retire the old cloud tenant and start living exclusively in the new one.  Whew, now we’re done.

In conclusion, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that transition of a cloud email tenant is challenging, and certainly complicates M&A email integration.  The good news is that by getting the right advice and assistance, using the right technology, and following best practices you can overcome the complexity and achieve a successful result.

To learn more on this subject, register and attend our May 25th webinar
M&A and Office 365 – How to Plan an Office 365 Tenant-to-Tenant Migration.