Different types of Migrations to Office 365

Enterprises are always striving to adopt new changes to make business more profitable and successful. That’s why Migration to Office 365 is becoming largely popular among business organisations for its enhancing benefits. Many organisations still prefer to work using old and outdated technology until some standard challenges interfere to make them realise the need for the new IT trend. Sooner or later, small or big organisations start to adapt to the cloud environment for better and significant business. You might think transferring the entire system to the cloud platform may be stressful which is absolutely the opposite.

Before choosing a migration method, take a look at your office environment for certain factors which might influence your decision such as if email platforms are exchange based or non-exchange based, number of components involved in migration, size of the data and lastly the budget involved in this procedure.

The four categorised migration procedure for Exchange Server-based platforms are as follows:

Cutover or Express Migration

This is the easiest and convenient migration process. This is also a choice for many small business group owners. The method can be used if the server is running on Exchange platform 2003, 2007, 2010 or 2013 and the number of users are less than 2000. In this process, you can move your entire email infrastructure and user accounts in one go. Though, Microsoft advises migrating 150 user accounts or less at a time. It is advisable to make movements in batches over a given period of time. That is what our next category is all about.

Staged Migration

In this process, the entire infrastructure can be moved in batches to office 365. Consider this method if you have Exchange Server running on 2003 or 2007 and if the number of user accounts is more than 2000. This method can’t be used for Exchange server 2010 or 2013. For that, you have to consider either cutover or hybrid migration based on your terms and conditions.

There are certain factors to keep in mind before doing a staged migration. They are as follows:

  • Synchronization should be created by an administrator between active directory used in on-premises and Office 365 using Active Directory Sync Service by Azure.
  • Only user accounts and resource accounts are migrated in this process. Other types of recipients such as mail users, contacts and distribution batches are transferred through the Directory Synchronization process.
  • Now there is another feature in exchange server called “out of office”. During the migration process if any user turns on this feature, it will remain ‘enabled’ but to people who will send a message to this user won’t get an “out of office” notification. For them, this feature will appear as blank. The user has to reset this notification after migration.
  • To optimise and improve migration performance you should increase the connections and contacts to source email platform. It’s a good practice for a smooth migration to increase client-server connections, IP address contacts, connections per user on the server.

Hybrid Migration

Well, before explaining about this migration method you need to have a look why you should go for this option. This method is complex to set up but has a vast range of plus points. For example, you don’t want to move your entire infrastructure to the cloud system but you would like to testify how migration works and how it benefits your business then Hybrid Migration should be considered. In this process, you can move a part of your infrastructure to Office 365 and leave other parts on-premises.

Another example is to be considered that you can free up spaces in your on-premises platform by moving old data and email archived files to Office 365 and use that free space for something else. This migration type is for large business enterprises having more than 2000 user accounts.

Hybrid Deployment is very popular as an administrator can take time to decide and eventually migrate all users to Office 365. Hybrid migration can be used if your office environment is running on Exchange Server 2010 or 2013.

This is the only migration where you can transfer mailboxes from Office 365 to an on-premises environment without the help of a third-party migration tool. Hybrid configuration might be a complex strategy yet it gives the best user experience where the user won’t be even aware that they are using mailboxes installed in on-premises as well as in Office 365.

Lastly, business groups using non-Exchange mail servers can’t avail the opportunity to make a choice of cutover, staged or hybrid deployment. For these enterprises, Microsoft provides two types of options. One is IMAP migration for migrating mailboxes to Office 365.

Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) Migration

Microsoft also provides migration of other email platforms that supports IMAP configuration, for example, Gmail, Outlook etc. In this migration process, only the contents in the inbox or any other mail folders will be migrated. But contacts, calendars or tasks can’t be moved with IMAP migration. Also, an administrator has to create mailboxes for each user in Office 365 since mailboxes are not automatically created after this migration.


Now that you’ve come across all types of migrations, it’s time to know some more important factors that can affect migration performance.


The factors are as follows:

  • Data Source – Performance depends on the server that hosts the data. For example, the Gmail platform sets a limitation on how much data you can extract over a period of time.
  • Density and type of Data – The type of mail server that you are using needs to be analyzed. Take an example, a 5GB mailbox with 500 different items and each of them containing 5MB files will migrate faster than a 5GB mailbox with 10000 comparatively smaller items.
  • Migration Engine – The tool that is used to extract data from on-premises to cloud platform might have its own limitations and functions. Cloud experts do the needful analysis on which migration tool to be used based on requirements.
  • On-premises network tools – Cloud experts need to check the firewall configurations and an end to end network servers in the on-premises platform for better migration performance.
  • Network performance – This is one of the major factors needs to be taken into consideration while the migration process. You need to evaluate the network speed, network stability, upload speed, network delays with your ISP since the amount of time the entire migration procedure will take depends entirely on your network capacity. Check the bandwidth of your network with your ISP. The faster your network is, the more reliable, time-saving and quicker would be the migration process. If your network is not stable then connection might drop in the middle of the deployment. This will create unnecessary errors in the process. Now to rectify that error, the analyst needs to make another time and might need to start the entire procedure again which can be time-consuming and will affect the entire migration performance. What happens often the firewall intrusion configurations of the on-premises system creates delays for the deployment. Contact your network hardware vendors as well to make sure all the hardware and drivers are working properly and have the latest software updates since this can also cause problems in network stability.
  • System Performance – Data migration is an intensive task. It is of utmost importance to check source systems before starting the process. For example, checking performance time, capacity and memory of CPU is very essential. If required, system performance should be monitored during migration trial. Source system performance can be improved by adding necessary hardware resources and reducing end-user workload. Other back-end workloads which run during the migration might slower the performance. The best time to do the migration is after the working hours. Another feasible option is to move the back-end workloads and users to other servers which won’t be used during migration.

But yes before moving the system you need to evaluate a couple things like if your business will get impact while transferring or what’s going to change for you as an administrator and for the end users. Lastly, you need to check for the license needs for all the users. Finally, before you decide on any migration method it’s advisable to speak with a certified partner.

Office 365 has built-in features to manage workloads while migrating. Deployment to cloud system needs right strategy and proper planning and assistance. Office365 undoubtedly improves efficiency and productivity of your organisation without creating any impact to the end users.

It takes the right strategy and evaluation before migrating to Office 365 which is why 365SOLUTIONS provides expert help on planning, analyzing and strategizing the entire process to migrate your business smoothly and making the complex process simple, manageable and cost-effective for you. Please feel free to contact us for full assistance during and after the migration process.

Contact Us

Fill in this short request form to find out more about pricing, products or anything else about our business applications, and our Representative will contact you to help answer your questions.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest