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Microsoft 365 is a bundle of services including Office 365, plus other services like Windows 10 Enterprise, and EMS, making it a secure productivity and collaboration suite for businesses.

With the expanding use of cloud technology, an increasing frequency of enterprises are transitioning to Microsoft 365 for its cloud-first based communication, collaboration, and production capacities.

Microsoft 365 allows multiple paths to successfully migrate mailboxes and certain best practices among them are noteworthy in achieving a seamless migration.

Best Practices for Optimized Performance

The diagram below gives an example of the decision-making process according to your technical requirements to understand the available migration methods for your scenario.

When assessing and planning the migration, an overarching concern is how to improve the performance of data migration and optimize migration velocity.

Best Practice #1: Delegation or Impersonation

In terms of migration processes, ‘Delegation’ refers to setting up an admin with full access rights to other users’ mailboxes. On the other hand, ‘Impersonation’ means that the admin account will actually impersonate each mailbox user when performing the migration and can use email credentials to scan or copy data, without needing individual passwords during the mailbox migration process. In the latter, without the compulsion of having to share the connection limits and throttling quotas of each user, the speed of migration increases.

Furthermore, simply using admin credentials will stamp out the chances of synchronization errors variously caused due to alteration of the on-premises account password by individual users.

Best Practice #2: Non-hybrid Deployment Migrations

For non-hybrid migrations using the IMAP, cutover, or staged migration methods, the following aims at optimizing the migration performance.

  • Monitor System Performance: Monitoring system performance during a pilot migration test determines if the system resources are adequate, as the increased workload from migration can affect end users. If the system is busy, it is recommended to avoid an aggressive migration schedule for the specific system because of potential migration slowness and service availability issues. Adding hardware resources or moving tasks and users to other servers enhances the system performance.
  • Review Back-end Tasks: It is best to carry out migration processes during off-hours to avoid back-end tasks running on the on-premises servers contravening the migration. Resource-intensive system tasks have to be necessarily avoided in order to experience uninterrupted and optimized migration performance.

Best Practice #3: Hybrid Deployment Migrations

Hybrid deployment migration supports the migration between on-premises Exchange servers and Exchange Online in Microsoft 365 or Office 365. Microsoft asserted that hybrid deployment migration supports the fastest migration of mailbox data.

  • Assessing the Migration Server— Hybrid deployment migration functions on the basis of cloud-initiated pull/push protocols for data transfer and an Exchange hybrid server acts as the migration server. Microsoft recommended users to incorporate powerful server-class physical machines instead of virtual machines for the Exchange hybrid servers. Additionally, using multiple hybrid servers that are behind the customer's network load balancer, allows ultra-high-performance while handling multiple requests per second.
  • Two-hop Migrations— Two-hop migration procedure accounts as a best practice among clients migrating from large and sensitive source systems like Exchange 2003 mailboxes. It is recommended that clients perform the first hop, or data migration from Exchange 2003 source system to an Exchange 2010 or later server, which usually acts as the hybrid server. Although this process is conducted offline, local networks can accomplish this process rapidly. The second ‘hop’ is the final process of migrating mailboxes from Exchange 2010 or later to Microsoft 365 or Office 365. For mitigating risks through fault tolerance and better user experience, this process is performed online.

Best Practice #4: Approaching Deep Customizations

Migrating to Microsoft 365 can be a demanding task. Migration affects the business processes and resources of each division—business stakeholders, IT, security, and compliance—differently. Since there are multiple variables in each migration project, having access to advanced customization options is essential to keeping the project optimally tweaked for success.

Pyramid Consulting provides custom SOW projects to support installation, migration, and "fast starts" with Microsoft's productivity tools, leveraging resources in the US and India to complete your Microsoft 365 projects on time and at peak cost-efficiency.

We facilitate Hybrid Migration, Exchange-Hosted Migration, Cutover Migration, Office 365 Tenant to Tenant Migrations, and Any Cloud to Microsoft 365 Tenant Migrations. Our security teams and managers review best practices to defend against phishing emails, internal and external malware, and inappropriate user behavior.

Mark Wuerslin

About the author

Mark Wuerslin

Practice Director, Microsoft 365

Mark is responsible for connecting with sales and marketing partners to ensure client success with Microsoft’s productivity suite. A new member to the Pyramid Consulting family, Mark has worked as a Microsoft consultant for over a decade. He gets up early every morning for grueling boot-camp workouts and double-shot espressos so that he can bring his best self to the office, as well as to his family and community. Oh, did we mention he climbed the Matterhorn with his father at the ripe age of 18.

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