Now that Office 365 is live, here's how to migrate to it

Exchange migration is easy, but SharePoint and public folder migration requires more planning

With yesterday's release of Office 365, now's the time to begin planning the shift to Microsoft's hosted service for Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync. Whether you're migrating from an on-premise environment or from one hosted by another provider, there are three initial concerns to focus on.

Concern 1: How do I migrate my Exchange to Office 365?

Microsoft has put quite a bit of effort into facilitating Exchange migration because the company wants to keep your mailbox business and knows that means making it as easy as possible to migrate them. If you go to the Microsoft's Exchange Server Deployment Assistant, you have two options for your cloud mailboxes: a coexistence hybrid option and a cloud-only option.

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The preferred approach is a coexistence hybrid, which lets your users have single sign-on through your on-premise Active Directory and syncs with Office 365's cloud-based Exchange service. If you take the cloud-only route, you can still migrate mailboxes, but users will need separate credentials to access their cloud-based mail.

The actual migration process occurs through Office 365's admin console. With it, you perform a "simple Exchange migration" either as a single move or in batches through staged migration. Which approach you take is all part of the planning. Not that you can migrate as many as 1,000 Exchange 2003, 2007, or 2010 mailboxes in a batch -- if you are using an older version of Exchange, you need to look at doing an IMAP migration or using a third-party tool or service.

Concern 2: How do I migrate my SharePoint to Office 365?

This question is pretty much ignored by many people, Microsoft included. When I asked Microsoft how to migrate on-premise SharePoint to Office 365, the response was unsettling: "At this point, we don't have anything specific to share, but look for more information after the product launches." Obviously, Microsoft is working on something, but you may not want to wait; instead, consider using a third-party vendor to fill the gap.

One option is Metalogix Migration Manager for SharePoint, which just released an Office 365-compatible update and is the first tool to pass Microsoft SharePoint Online Code Analysis Framework (MSOCAF) testing. It lets you move from various versions of SharePoint, including SharePoint Portal Server (SPS) 2003, SharePoint Services (WSS) versions 2 and 3, and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007.

Concern 3: What do I do with public folders?

The answer depends on if they are mail-enabled or not. Office 365 doesn't support public folders, but you can move them to shared mailboxes or -- if they are not mail-enabled -- to SharePoint Online (which doesn't support inbound email for libraries and lists).

A good option for moving a small number of public folders is to export them to one or more .pst files. Then use Outlook to connect them to the SharePoint calendar, contacts, and tasks and copy the items from the .pst file to the SharePoint calendar, contact, and task locations. For mail and post items, you can map a drive to a SharePoint document library and copy the messages from Outlook to the mapped drive.

If you have a large numbers of public folders (as most businesses do) or want to migrate permissions as well, you'll need a third-party tool such as Metalogix. Check with your favorite SharePoint migration tool vendor to see if it supports public folder migration for Office 365.

This article, "Now that Office 365 is live, here's how to to migrate to it," 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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