Here’s some advice from Don Jones’s experience in moving a business to Office 365. Learn how some of his insights and missteps can help you adopt Microsoft’s cloud service without too much issue.
If there’s a pitfall to be had in moving to Office 365, I’m pretty sure my company ran across it. We just jumped in without reading any of the documentation. When you first sign up for your trial, be real careful. Either use the name that you plan to use forever with them, or use a name that you know you’re going to throw away. You have to pick a name. ConcentratedTech.OnMicrosoft.com is what everything gets for us. I would recommend if you’re going to go in with a trial, and you’re not sure what plan you might actually go for, then sign up for the trial with a fake name, FredBarney.OnMicrosoft.com, so you can play around and then throw that away and come back and sign up with the real name you plan to use.
Picking a plan was hard for us. We thought we were going to be on one of the basic plans, the P plans, the small business plans. We started looking at some of the limitations in SharePoint, and we started thinking “Oh, you know, I think we’re going to be on an E plan.” We’re not an enterprise, really, there’s five or six of us, but that’s the plan that has the features we need. You really have to spend some time considering that.
Gosh, you better have someone who knows Powershell. It’s a shame. They sell Office 365 as this just “Go do do it all on the web,” but that’s not really true. If you need to import 500 or 600 external addresses, contacts, in your address book? Powershell. This has been fixed, but when we did it, when you send email, our “Send As” addresses were coming up as that ConcentratedTech.OnMicrosoft.com, not our vanity domain, ConcentratedTech.com. It was a Powershell command needed to go change that for all of our users.
They say it’s all nice and easy and self service, but if you’ve got no IT staff and no IT experience, I would really consider not buying O365 from Microsoft. Buy it from one of their partners who can do a little bit of value add and walk you through some of those steps. They can get you through a lot of the hiccups.
The other big one was migration. Who would have thought that was hard? Apparently, if you put too much data into an Office 365 folder over a short period of time, they start to throttle you. If you can imagine migrating 10,000 messages, you get throttled really quick. Then your migration takes two days. If you call O365 support and let them know that that’s what you’re doing, they’ll turn that throttle off for a little while to let your migration go through.
Then you can get a self service migration tool. Quest has one on demand for email migration or something. Send your users to it. They get a little email. They type their old email address, their new email address, their old password, their new password, and it’s done & taken care of. Use the admin to see who’s done it, who has left to do it. That was a huge help for us. I think trying to do migration using the built in O365 tool is for the birds. You absolutely want to definitely not hit that pitfall and find a migration tool that’s going to work a little better.