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Scary Office 365

Scary BackgroundFor this Halloween, we’d like to share scary Office 365 tales. While more than 640,000 Microsoft Partners worldwide receive free internal use rights for Office 365, just over 1,100 are currently qualified with the Cloud Accelerate competency. These snippets are cautionary lessons of unknowing customers or unqualified players for e-mail migration:

  • Outlook intermittently goes offline. A new customer was very frustrated as smartphones and Outlook Web App worked just fine, but all Outlook user e-mail was often delayed or would just go offline. There are additional considerations for firewalls and cloud computing, so once flood mitigation was disabled everything was fine.
  • T-1 is not enough. Right after a migration, we were contacted because the Internet was unusable.  There were about 45 users and many had 10GB or greater mailboxes, so Outlook for each user was synchronizing and using all the bandwidth. For best results, businesses usually need at least 10Mbs Internet connection per the Office 365 requirements and the FCC estimated average U.S. consumer Internet speed as of July 2012 at nearly 15Mbs.
  • Decommission Exchange properly. Even with network DNS changes, Outlook won’t autodiscover Office 365 mailboxes if Exchange is installed. When you uninstall Exchange 2007 and greater, you must disable mailboxes and NOT delete in order to remove Exchange. Otherwise, Active Directory user accounts are deleted and no one can log onto the network, but fortunately an Active Directory restore can quickly put the user accounts back.
  • Clean up before migration. Several users were more than a year behind moving thousands of inbox messages to appropriate subfolders. These users did their clean up during the migration instead of before, and ended up with a copy of some messages still in their Inbox that were also properly filed. This is generally a non-issue for most users and massive deletions and moves should definitely be done before migration is started.
  • Don’t work without a net. One customer ran an export cmdlet to make a PST copy of each mailbox, but failed to open one to verify and all PST files were empty. Further, existing Outlook profiles were used so changes between on-premise cached mailboxes and Office 365 were merged. If users had any concerns about mailbox data, it is a complicated and risky proposition to reinstall Exchange. Luckily, Exchange databases were present and our proprietary tool was able to export mailbox copies without Exchange.

Fortunately, no data loss has happened in any scary Office 365 implementations that we’ve encountered. In 5 years of moving Oklahoma customers to the cloud across thousands of subscribers, we’ve only had 2 customers move away from Office 365. Both reasons were because of mergers or acquisition and not any dissatisfaction. We utilized another proprietary third-party tool to migrate, as there is no such capability built-in to Office 365.

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