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Office 365 customer: Get the right help when moving email to the cloud

Tim Greene | June 18, 2014
Dallas County Community Colleges District was using Novell's GroupWise suite of applications for email but little else, and at $200,000 per year, that just didn't make sense, especially since it was also buying access to Microsoft Office 365 – including Outlook - along with its enterprise campus agreement.

Dallas County Community Colleges District was using Novell's GroupWise suite of applications for email but little else, and at $200,000 per year, that just didn't make sense, especially since it was also buying access to Microsoft Office 365 including Outlook - along with its enterprise campus agreement.

So the seven schools that make up the district embarked on a money-saving transition that met its financial goals, but not without some instructive and sometimes costly lessons about migration to the cloud, says Steve Glick, associate district director of IT for infrastructure services at DCCCD. "It was painful," he says.

At the recommendation of Microsoft, he licensed Migrator, touted as a gold-standard tool from Quest Software, now part of Dell, to move 6,000 mailboxes from GroupWise to Exchange and Office 365. The intent was to have Quest do the first few dozen and then have college staff take over the migration.

But that's not how things worked out. While the tool indicated mailboxes were being migrated successfully, close scrutiny of the logs by staff showed they weren't, with the result that end users they thought had been migrated couldn't access their mail.

The problem turned out to be the cloud. Migrator reputedly did a great job shifting on-premises GroupWise mailboxes to on-premises Exchange. But back in 2012 when he was doing this work, cloud transitions were relatively new. Network delays stymied Migrator, he says. The college was reduced to transitioning one mailbox at a time manually.

At that rate Glick wasn't going to meet his Aug. 31, 2012 deadline. That's when the college would have to pony up $200,000 for a Novell contract renewal, he says. So it made sense to pay a separate vendor to automate the migration to Office 365 and get out from under GroupWise. "At that point I didn't care. I just wanted to get it over with," he says.

So Glick spent $50,000 to have Bit Titan's Migrationwiz service do the work and ate the cost of Migrator.

This time though, rather than outsourcing the job in its entirety he started with just 200 licenses to see how well the service worked. "We proceeded cautiously," he says. Looking back on it, Glick says he should have bought just a few Quest Migrator licenses and checked how well that product worked as well, then bought more if it proved satisfactory. "I should have dipped my toe in with a couple hundred," he says.

After Migrationwiz lived up to the task, Glick did hire the service to complete the job. The first 1,000 moves using Quest's Migrator took six to eight months; the remaining 5,000 with Migrationwiz took five to six weeks. It took eight to 20 hours to run a job, but that was half the time of the previous product, he says.

 

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