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Understanding the Compounded Gains of Choosing Microsoft Office 365 by the Organizations

Understanding the Compounded Gains of Choosing Microsoft Office 365 by the Organizations

A large number of enterprises are migrating over to the cloud. As per the survey, it was observed that 80 percent of the organizations are moving over to the cloud E-mail and opting Office 365.

However, the smaller organizations are evenly bifurcated among Google Apps for Work and Microsoft’s Office 365.

In spite of its growth, only 13 percent of publicly traded enterprises have moved over to the cloud e-mail service from either Google or Microsoft.

From this perspective, 8.5 percent use Office 365, whereas 4.7 percent use Google Apps for Work. And the rest of those surveyed either have on-premises, hybrid hosted or e-mail hosted by smaller providers, as per Gartner’s survey.

Those who are identified as the 80 percent of large organizations that have migrated over to Office 365 have more than $10 billion revenues. Google’s popularity is better among smaller organizations, approaching a 50 percent share of the organization with revenue less than $50 million.

Both Google and Microsoft have carved niches in certain industries. Microsoft’s edge is among utilities, energy and aerospace enterprises, while Google’s stronghold is in publishing, retail, education, advertising, media, consumer products and travel, as per the survey.

As per Gartner observation, those who have chosen Google tend to be companies bound by fewer compliance requirements.

Unsurprisingly, certain industries have gravitated over to the cloud faster than others. Gartner conveyed that more than one-third of the largest organizations in the travel and hospitality, professional services and consumer products sectors, have migrated their on-premises e-mail infrastructure to either Google or Microsoft’s offering.

There are various factors worth considering while migrating over to the cloud. The transition has to ensure that organizations will be able to save money and increase efficiency.

Microsoft is encouraging enterprises of all levels to begin migrating operations to the cloud. And trying its best to help smoothen the transition process.

Microsoft Office 365 is build up from the cloud versions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, SharePoint 2010 and Microsoft Lync Server.

Few of Office 365 subscriptions are going to include accessibility to Microsoft Office Professional Plus, and the Microsoft Office Web Apps.

With distinguished products available in the Microsoft Office 365 Suite, comprehensively covering the migration process is a big challenge.

Rather, let’s see how to perform some common tasks in the new Microsoft Office 365 environment, and begin thinking about probable encounters during the transition.

Domain Names

One moot question is how the transition over to Microsoft Office 365 is going to affect an organization’s domain names. SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync are all dependent on Active Directory.

The way your domain names are being affected depends on whether you prefer to maintain an on-premise Active Directory and whether you choose to use identity federation.

In case you wish to continue hosting Active Directory, however, don’t want the hassle of deploying identity federation, then you may have Microsoft Office 365 handle domain names via a process called partial redelegation.

Your enterprise retains ownership of the domain name, however, certain functions like e-mail and Web hosting are redirected towards Microsoft Office 365 servers.

Microsoft builds the process of redelegation of a domain with Microsoft Office 365 fairly painless. The Microsoft Office 365 administrative console allows you to add a domain name as shown in Figure 1.

Adding existing domain names to Microsoft Office 365

Figure 1: Adding existing domain names to Microsoft Office 365

Before you add a domain to Microsoft Office 365, you need to prove you own the domain name by offering the sign-in credentials for either the domain registrar or host.

Users and Groups

Working along with users and groups present within a Microsoft Office 365 environment takes little acclimatization. Instead of exposing the Active Directory Users and Computers console, Microsoft offers you with the interface as depicted in Figure 2.

The administrative console including a mechanism for creating and managing user accounts

Figure 2: The administrative console including a mechanism for creating and managing user accounts

Microsoft provides you various options for managing user accounts. In case you already have an Active Directory environment, then your best deal will probably going to be Active Directory synchronization.

This establishes a relationship between your local Active Directory and the Microsoft Office 365 cloud. You continue using your present available Active Directory infrastructure and all the Active Directory management tools.

The most imperative thing you are required to know regarding Active Directory synchronization is that the process works only one way. And, the contents of your Active Directory are replicated over to the cloud, however, changes performed over to the cloud are not copied to your local Active Directory.

Though it’s technically possible to conduct changes to the user accounts via the cloud interface, those alterations are never copied to the local Active Directory and will eventually overwritten by the synchronization process.

Another possibility for managing user accounts is to utilize the identity federation. The fundamental idea behind identity federation is that you sustain control of your own Active Directory environment.
By deploying version 2.0 of the Active Directory Federation Service, you cannot allow users log into the cloud via their normal Active Directory credentials.

In case you’re going to perform Active Directory synchronization, Microsoft preferably recommends first enable identity federation.

In case you wish to use Active Directory synchronization, however, choose not to enable identity federation, you should redelegate your domain in the manner described earlier.

Begin in the Cloud

Please note that having a local Active Directory deployment is not a prerequisite condition of using Microsoft Office 365.

Similarly, you can also have an on-premises implementation for moving everything over to the cloud, as long as you’re not executing any on-premises applications (other than the ones which are included in Microsoft Office 365) which require access to Active Directory.

The administrative interface permits you create user accounts directly within the Microsoft Office 365 environment; but, don’t perform this if you’re conducting directory synchronization.

Though you are allowed to create user accounts one at a time via a Web-based wizard, the administrative console also allows you to create user accounts in bulk by exploiting and populating a CSV file with user account information and then enhancing that file.

You will observe that the administrative console offers an option to either download a blank CSV file or a sample CSV file (refer Figure 3).

You will observe that the administrative console offers an option to either download a blank CSV file or a sample CSV file

Figure 3: Creating user accounts in bulk by adding the user information to a CSV file

Migrate Existing Users

As Microsoft Office 365 allows you to create new user accounts in the cloud, you are allowed to move existing users. Microsoft Office 365 consisting of Exchange Server 2010.

Though mailbox data is located on a mailbox server, the mailbox itself is an Active Directory attribute.

As such, moving a user account also implies migration of the user’s mailbox.

Migrations are a kind of not an all-or-nothing proposition. You are allowed to create coexistence scenarios in which you have users with on-premises Exchange mailboxes, while other users’ mailboxes present in the cloud.

That implies, user migrations to Microsoft Office 365 are handled as mailbox migrations. Keeping coexistence aside, Microsoft Office 365 supports two kinds of mailbox migrations. You can conduct an Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) migration or a migration of an on-premises Exchange.

IMAP Migrations

You are permitted to use an IMAP migration when you require migrating mailbox data from either a non-Exchange mail system or from Exchange 5.5 or Exchange 2000. The real migration process is relatively simple, however, it may require quite a bit of preparation work.

Before you conduct an IMAP migration, you need to create Exchange mailboxes for all the present users whose mailbox data you are planning to migrate.

You also need to create a CSV file with the e-mail address, user-name, and password for every mailbox that you are planning to migrate. Once the required information has been assembled, you are allowed to use the E-Mail Migration option in Outlook Web App to perform the real migration (refer Figure 4).

Web App to perform the real migration

Figure:4 E-mail migrations are done through Outlook Web App

Exchange Server Migrations

With the IMAP migration, an Exchange migration shifts mailbox data over to the cloud. The migration process shifts contacts, messages, and distribution groups.

There are two kinds of Exchange migrations. A simple and easy migration moves all the Exchange mailboxes at one go. A staged migration moves a subset of the mailboxes. Prefer using a staged migration in coexistence scenarios.

The primary step towards performing a simple migration is to mention the migration type. You can select to perform an Exchange 2007 and later migration or an Exchange 2003 and later migration (refer Figure 5). The only actual difference between the two is that the option of Exchange 2007 uses the Autodiscover service to by default detect your connection settings. The Exchange 2003 needs that you manually mention your connection settings.

Exchange 2007 option uses the Autodiscover option to detect your connection settings

Figure 5: The Exchange 2007 option uses the Autodiscover option to detect your connection settings

The migration process consumes some time to complete, especially if you have a lot of large mailboxes. Microsoft Office 365 follows two different synchronization approaches to keep the mailboxes in sync during the migration.

During the initial phase of the synchronization, the mailbox data is primarily copied to the cloud. And then, Exchange conducts an incremental synchronization once in every 24 hours. The incremental synchronization replicates any new mailbox data over to the cloud.

When all the mailboxes have been migrated, Exchange transmits an e-mail informing you that the migration has been completed. This message includes two attachments. One of these is a file named MigrationErrors.csv. This encloses mailboxes that failed to migrate. The other attachment is a file named MigrationStatistics.csv. This includes information regarding the number of items that were migrated.

Please note, the MailboxStatistics.csv file includes a temporary password for every user. The user uses this password for login into the cloud, and then reset the password.

You are also allowed to redirect the Mail Exchange record present on the organization’s DNS server to point to the cloud server. This will raise the messages to go directly over to the cloud server. The migration finishes with a final synchronization and confirmation e-mail message. Then you and your users are performing computing in the cloud.

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