Should You Migrate All Your Old Data to the Microsoft Cloud?

Microsoft Cloud Migration | Binary Tree

By 2020, Gartner predicts that 60% of organizations will replace their on-premises office deployments with cloud office platforms like Microsoft Office 365. Which means you’ll be faced with the question: should you also migrate your legacy office data to the cloud?

In the not so distant past, the answer to this question was often “yes.” When it came time to migrate an on-premises application to the latest version, you usually went ahead and migrated all legacy data along with it—old emails, documents, calendar items, chats, and more.

But these days, things are different. The amount of data in the digital age is skyrocketing. Which means it takes much more time—and money—to migrate old data to the cloud. That’s why many organizations are starting to re-think their strategy and look for other solutions to store old data, like carefully curated archives. Here are some ways to approach this decision.

Calculate the cost

The cost to migrate legacy data to the cloud can snowball. In fact, Gartner says that most IT teams often underestimate how much time and effort this will really take, both for the migration itself and then for long-term maintenance. So before you decide to migrate all of your legacy data, you should account for costs across tasks like these:

  • Doing a first pass: Most organizations choose to clean up old data before they migrate it, which can reduce the actual migration volume, effort, and cost. But this remediation pass takes time and effort, too.
  • Migrating in stages: You usually can’t migrate all old data in a single go. This means you’ll still be running the new and old platforms side-by-side for a time, sometimes indefinitely. So you could consider the costs to maintain both systems while you migrate.
  • Using migration services and tools: These are the expenses for the migration itself, whether you choose to use a vendor like Binary Tree or go with a DIY tool.
  • Migrating other archives: Most organizations have other legacy archives that they might also want to move to the cloud. But often, these archives aren’t as compatible with the cloud. So it can be expensive, slow, and technically tricky to make this happen.

What to do:

  • Compare what it would cost to migrate vs. archive or start fresh
  • Prioritize the value of your data against what it would cost to migrate
  • Consider all your options—archiving, disposing of, leaving as is
  • Make sure you understand your data costs in the cloud

Consider migrating high-value data only

In the digital age, more and more organizations are starting to go this route. They choose to migrate only more recent, high-value content to the cloud. This might mean leaving old emails, documents, and chats behind in an archive. Employees will still be able to get their hands on things as needed, it might just take a few more steps.

Granted, many employees tend to prefer that every email and document they’ve ever touched remain right at their fingertips. After all, you never know what you’re going to need someday. This is how Gartner puts it: “Most users think that they need to take everything with them and will revolt at the idea of a clean start, even if they know that they will never look at old data.” It’s a psychological thing, one that your org will need to work through.

What to do:

  • Accept that today’s content is distributed, diverse, and dynamic—it doesn’t all have to live in the same silo
  • Focus on ways to make content governance and search easier across platforms
  • Work with everyone involved (legal, compliance, business owners) to prioritize content to migrate vs. archive
  • Reassure employees that their old data is still there if they need it—and train them how to get it

Explore other ways to make compliance easier

To be safe, many organizations tend to keep migrating old data from system to system. It’s like those old boxes in your garage that you haven’t opened since three moves ago. The thinking is that at least you’ll have the old data on hand when you need it. Like for the e-discovery process in audits or litigation.

But just keeping old data doesn’t mean that it’s easy to find. Gartner says that the issue with e-discovery often comes up not because there’s not enough data but because the data hasn’t been stored correctly in the first place.

What to do:

  • Balance the value of having legacy data on hand in the cloud with the cost of storing it
  • Think about copying or moving all legacy data to an archive
  • Set data to read-only mode and let it age out according to your retention rules
  • Leave legacy systems online for a defined period (usually 6 months to a year), then archive all the data before you shut it down and move on
  • Clean up data before you archive it (declutter, de-dupe, delete orphans, add timestamps, etc.)

Partner with an expert

If you decide to make the move to Office 365, Binary Tree can help get you there as quickly and smoothly as possible. We’ve been doing migrations for nearly 25 years and are exclusively focused on moving organizations to the Microsoft platform. Our commitment to you is that we can deliver even the most complex migrations on an aggressive schedule—all without disrupting your users. Contact us today, or read more about how we can help you transform to Office 365.


Source: Gartner. Reduce Costs by Deciding What Data to Migrate to Cloud Office, November 2016