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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.

Glick's convinced that any business needs a tool to automate the process if there is any scale at all to the project. Migrations can be done manually but not for more than a handful of users, so the key is to find the right tool.

While the transition to Office 365 didn't go as smoothly as he would have liked, Glick says he did learn valuable lessons from the experience.

First, he says, test tools within the network environment to make sure it works. Then start the transition with a small number of licenses to make sure it works in the production environment. If everything checks out, then commit to a tool and move ahead.

Education for end users is essential, but coordinating it was a problem for DCCCD because his IT group has no direct authority over each campus's help desk. DCCCD's separate colleges share central business and technical services, but the help desk is decentralized. Three of Glick's staffers worked on the migration supported by a dozen or so help-desk workers at the various colleges moving clients from GroupWise to Outlook.

The colleges are a Microsoft premiere support customer, which gave Glick access to phone support. "That was very helpful," he says. Basic Office 365 support is free forum support, and that would have been insufficient.

Afterward Glick learned about Microsoft's Cloud Vantage service that helps customers determine the right level of engagement with Microsoft so transition to the could go smoothly. Had he known about it he would have signed up for it. "It would have been worth whatever it cost," he says. "There is a need for assistance."

Despite best efforts, Glick says, end users with any email problems at all during and immediately after the migration blamed the migration even if it was not the cause. But eventually that subsided. "After six to eight weeks the conversation moved to, I really like this new thing,'" he says.

Glick recommends planning carefully and then getting the job done as fast as possible. The process is going to be disruptive no matter what, so it's best to get the technical part done quickly and educate end users as best as you can about the changes they'll face.

With a service as essential as email, uses are hyper sensitive to any shortcomings, and that breeds a guaranteed amount of discontent. "I've never heard of a good email migration," he says. "There's just going to be problems."


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