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Staged vs Hybrid vs Cutover Migration in Office 365


Posted on 16 Aug, 2020 @ 02:08 PM by Zane Paulo


Microsoft has provided various pathways for moving email services to the Office 365 suite. This is to ensure optimal performance and acceptable migration velocity during the process. The choice of migration should depend on factors such as customer migration workloads and anticipated performance among others.

We will compare three of the most commonly used migration methods viz. staged vs hybrid vs cutover migration in Office 365 in the following sections:

 

Factors to Consider for Choosing Your Migration Method

 

Note that there are no hard and fast rules for selecting the right migration method while moving to Office 365 mailboxes. With that said, there might be limitations on the number of options available based on certain parameters.

Some of the factors that have to be considered in comparing the staged vs hybrid vs cutover migration in Office 365 are mentioned below:

  • Number of email accounts and their associated objects
  • The individual and overall size of the objects to be considered for migration
  • The compatibility of existing email systems with Office 365 mailboxes
  • Versions of the existing and new Exchange Servers
  • Time and financial constraints

These are some of the primary factors which need to be considered during the process of Office 365 migration. Moreover, businesses that might choose to do the email migration themselves will have to decide the right migration tools for the process.

 

Comparing Staged Vs Hybrid Vs Cutover Migration in Office 365

 

Now that we have seen the factors involved in considering the migration method, let us look into each of the three methods for migrating mailboxes in detail.

 

Staged migration in Office 365

 

As the name suggests, staged migration is a method in which the accounts are split into batches before moving to Office 365. This is done over an extended period. Consider using staged migration in the following cases.

  • There are over 2000 mailboxes
  • You are using the legacy Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 or Microsoft Exchange Server 2007
  • You are experiencing unexplained failures while migrating a large number of mailboxes and splitting them into batches improves the chances of success
  • The email migration is complex, and end-users cannot be disrupted with tight deadlines

 

How to do staged migration in Office 365

 

  • Synchronise the existing users with Office 365 using AD sync
  • Generate a CSV list of all the accounts to be migrated
  • Create a batch to move email, contacts, and calendar items to Office 365 and convert the existing accounts to Office 365 mailboxes
  • Repeat the last two steps for every batch

 

Advantages of staged migration in Office 365

 

  • Maximum flexibility in moving the accounts
  • Minimises the chances of being stuck with tight deadlines
  • Reduces disruption of major business services for end-users
  • The batch sizes can be managed for optimal performance

 

Disadvantages of staged migration in Office 365

 

  • Need to be planned because of the complexity
  • A dedicated administrator has to be actively involved throughout the process
  • Out of Office messages are not migrated with user mailboxes

 

Hybrid migration in Office 365

 

Some organisations might have to retain their on-premises servers while simultaneously moving to the cloud-based Office 365 services. Such a scenario can arise where an admin wants to manage their AD accounts on on-premise while users can use Office 365 mailbox and services on the cloud.

 

How to do hybrid migration in Office 365?

 

Hybrid migration is a slightly more complicated process and is best outsourced to experts due to the complexities involved. There are several pre-requisites for the hybrid deployment most important of which is the version compatibility of the Exchange servers. The Office 365 subscription must include Azure Active Directory synchronisation to support hybrid deployments. Then the appropriate permissions should be available for the deployment. The generic steps for hybrid migration could include:

  • Creation of remote migration endpoints
  • Enabling MRSProxy service for on-premises exchange servers
  • Use remote move migration type for moving on-premises mailboxes to Exchange Online and complete the migration batches
  • Enable offline access for web Outlook

 

Advantages of hybrid migration in Office 365

 

Secure connection between on-premises and Office 365 accounts

  • Shared domain name, calendar, username and password for both accounts
  • Integrated control for on-premises and Office 365 accounts
  • Message tracking, MailTips, and multi-mailbox search features for both accounts
  • Office 365 archiving features extensibility to on-premises Exchange mailboxes
  • Free/busy information sharing is possible both ways.

 

Disadvantages of hybrid migration in Office 365

 

  • Creates avoidable complications due to the concurrent existence of mailboxes
  • Necessity to use Azure Active Directory and Office 365 password syncing
  • Compulsion to keep the legacy Exchange servers active for longer periods
  • Relative inflexibility in moving to a full-cloud deployment

 

Cutover migration in Office 365

 

A cutover migration is the simplest method to move mailboxes to Office 365. It is similar to staged migration except for the fact that all mailboxes are moved at once. Needless to say, the number and size of mailboxes are significantly smaller while opting for cutover migration.

 

How to do cutover migration in Office 365

 

  • Create a security group in Office 365 for the new mailboxes
  • Connect the servers of the existing system with Office 365
  • Move mailbox items to Office 365
  • Re-route incoming mails by changing DNS records
  • Confirm migration completion

 

Advantages of cutover migration in Office 365

 

  • One of the simplest migration types available
  • Can be done within a few days
  • Compatibility with legacy Exchange servers starting with Exchange 2003
  • No need for syncing passwords
  • Distribution groups, contacts, and other items are also migrated

 

Disadvantages of cutover migration in Office 365

 

  • Less flexibility in terms of selectively moving objects and mailboxes
  • Extensive manual configuration requirements on individual desktops
  • No Azure Active Directory synchronisation between on-premises servers and Office 365

 

Staged vs Cutover vs Hybrid Migration – What to Choose?

 

That brings us to the end of the comparison between staged vs hybrid vs cutover migration in Office 365. While cutover migration is best suited for small organisations with a few users, staged migration is necessary for larger enterprises and hybrid deployments are applicable in unique circumstances when organisations have to maintain their existing mail servers even as they migrate to Office 365.

We cannot deny the fact that migration is a complex process in which many things can go haywire despite our earnest attempt to explain the process as comprehensively as possible. It is for this reason we recommend organisations to outsource their email migration process to experts like Hausen Group. Our experts provide 24/7 support via phone, email, and chat throughout the process.

Click here for a free Office 365 migration assessment today.

This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author's employer, organisation, committee or other group or individual.

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