Migrating Outlook

So far we have only really looked at migrating our SharePoint server to the cloud, we haven’t really looked at migrating the Exchange server at all. I have come across an article on ZDNET describing their Exchange migrating experience, this article highlights a big issue with the migration process and the limitations of Office 365.

In ZDNET’s artcile, “Outlook: Cloudy (with a chance of email)” they describe their migration into the cloud as being pretty smooth, that is up until they got to the much larger mailboxes. We already know that Office 365 does not allow users to send attachments over 25mb but what I didn’t realise is that when migrating the exchange server, office wont migrate emails that already have attachments over 25mb. This limitation can halt the migration process, which of course can cause a problem for anyone migrating to the cloud. The smaller mailboxes will continue to upload, but any mailboxes left out of migration will be considered a failure.

ZDNET also came up with a method to avoid these problems

“Possibly the easiest way to deal with the large message problem is to use Outlook’s Search Folders to build a dynamic query that will find all messages over a set size. You can sort the resulting virtual folder by size, and remove all the messages (or attachments) that are blocking the migration.”

Once these changes had been made, the migration process was simply restarted and completed. Fortunately, the good thing about migrating the exchange server is that users will still be able to use their emails while the migration is in process, so there is no interruption to service.

For the university however, this could be a very lengthy process as there are an extremely large amount of mailboxes to migrate, with thousands of staff accounts and thousands of student accounts to migrate over to the cloud.


Office 365 Small Business and Enterprise

I have been working with Microsoft Office 365 Small Business version for 2 months now and I believe we have pretty much reached its limits.

As we are currently leaving migration until we are both back from our holiday we have been looking into more features of Microsoft office 365 that we might have previously missed, features such as RSS feeds, target audiences, info path lists, complex workflows and more. None of these appear to work in the small business edition, there appear to be a huge amount of restrictions that only allow us to do the simplest of task (no IT pro required). For us to continue with Microsoft Office 365 I believe we need to upgrade to the Enterprise edition, this will allow us to test features that may actually be useful to the University, it will also allow us to use features that even SharePoint 2003 currently use, such as target audience. To me, I believe that even Office 365 Small Business should be an improvement on SharePoint 2003 and not hold features back that would put 2003 ahead of small business.

So after we have looking into migration more closely and tested some of this, I believe we have no choice but to move up to Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise edition, so we can test these useful features.


SharePoint Workspace

SharePoint Workspace is an easy to use tool that offers complete synchronisation of your SharePoint site to your desktop computer. This enables greater flexibility of how you access the things you need for your day to day work. This also means that you can access files when on the go and don’t have an Internet connection. If you made any edits to any documents while you are disconnected these will be queued for synchronisation until your Internet connection is restored. Another great feature is that when changes are made to a document, only the changes are synced back up to the server, meaning smaller and quicker upload times. Workspace also provides the ability to save to direct folders on SharePoint Servers as if they were folders on your local machine, making it both familiar and easy to save documents to the cloud with no new skills to learn. With it’s great integration with Windows you can even search for documents located on SharePoint through a Windows Explorer window, which makes it really easy to search for those all important documents.

However it does not support all content. There are some instances where data will not be synchronised depending on the way that it is stored on the SharePoint site, for example in a custom list.

Microsoft Use Third Party Tool To Help Their Own Migration

In an article published by SharePoint Pro Mag, Microsoft themselves have used a third party tool to assist them with an upgrade from SharePoint 2007 to 2010.

“Just this week, it was announced that Microsoft itself, the Microsoft Technology Centers, migrated from dedicated SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010 on an internal cloud hosted by MSIT (Microsoft IT), and even the MTC’s turned to a third party migration tool (by AvePoint) to migrate content to the cloud while maintaining metadata and configuration.”

I am very surprised that Microsoft has turned to a third party tool to complete their migration. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but it does not give their customers much confidence in what they (Microsoft) do, if they have to turn to another company for help regarding one of their own products. This potentially shows that using a third party tool to help with a companies migration should not be considered as shameful or cheating or using the ‘easy’ option.

The full article can be found at: SharePoint Pro Mag.

Quest Software

Quest Software offer a SharePoint migration tool, which can migrate SharePoint 2003 to 2007 and 2007 to 2010.

Quest enables remote migration by offering a web based console that can be accessed from any web browser. It also helps you to easily manage your migration project with the use of, pre-migration assessments, migration job controls, real time progress reporting and scheduling.

Quest will migrate SharePoint sites including content and security settings directly to the new platform. It also enables you to reorganise your site structure during the migration process. Once the migration is complete you can also update any changes to the original sites on the target sites. Quest can even migrate any customisation you may have on your sites including web parts.

Quest also offer a tool that states it can migrate SharePoint 2003 to 2010 directly without the need to migrate to the interim 2007 version. This can be seen in this video “Migrating SharePoint 2003 to 2010“.

More on this can be found at: Quest.