My 3 favorite tools for migrating to Office 365

More users are moving to Office 365, but they're finding a few areas that require some help. These three tools can bridge the gaps

Organizations of all shapes and sizes are making the move to Office 365 (or some form of hosted Exchange) in a desire to eliminate the management of on-premises hardware, disaster recovery, and high availability of their email infrastructure.

There are many products meant to help you migrate to Office 365. The following are my three favorites.

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In my usage, CodeTwo Office 365 Migration has been an easy way to get your on-premises Exchange mailboxes into Office 365's Exchange, whether you are doing a complete move of all users or moving some to Office 365 and keeping some local in a hybrid approach. CodeTwo helps move mailboxes and public folders from on-premises Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2013. It can also move mailboxes from Google Apps for Business and individual Gmail accounts to Office 365. The best part about this tool is that you can get it for free: Enterprise Office 365 subscribers can get a migration license paid by Microsoft if the enterprise designates CodeTwo its Office 365 migration partner of record.

Mimecast's Unified Email Management helps with on-premises, hosted, and Office 365 deployments, depending on the components you license. They nicely fill gaps around enterprise-grade archiving, antispam/antimalware, continuity, and large file sends. For example, the archiving feature ensures that users can access their sent and received email and restore it if necessary themselves, saving you time and hassle as an IT admin. But they can't delete archived emails, so your organization's e-discovery and compliance remain intact.

In my experience, Mimecast's continuity feature -- essentially a cloud-based failover server for Office 365's Exchange -- is very useful. Office 365 goes down at times, as my company can attest. Mimecast keeps your email up and accessible during those outages, so users aren't affected. When Office 365 is back up, Mimecast brings Office 365 back up to speed.

ClipTraining's Office 365 Application Training is my own company's product, so I may be biased about its value. But I truly believe one of the problems with deploying new OSes and applications is a lack of training, thus keeping users from taking advantage of their new Windows 8 PC with Office 2013 connected to Office 365. IT admins know all too well the frustration of seeing users completely freak out over the new features we work so hard to implement. From their viewpoint, they've been using Windows XP and Office 2003 for a decade, and now need to relearn a set of tools they strongly depend on every day -- of course they could use some education. ClipTraining subscribers can make a library of short, task-based videos available to users, so they can learn the new features at their convenience and at their own pace. The videos' coverage includes Outlook 2013, SharePoint 2013, and Lync 2013.

With more and more services, infrastructure, and platforms moving to the cloud, the need for good third-party tools will only grow to enhance the core offering, such as Exchange. Some of those tools exist today, and I encourage you to use them.

This story, "My 3 favorite tools for migrating to Office 365," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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