For many prospects and customers, the prospect of no longer having to manage their own Exchange environments has great appeal. Microsoft understands this and was careful to sweeten Exchange Online even further with virtually limitless cloud-based mailboxes and archives. So, why do we see customers interested in selectively migrating their on-premise mailboxes to Exchange Online?
Junk stored for free is still junk!
Ask any consultant, infrastructure company or litigation attorney: the majority of data in users inboxes is worthless. Aside from the emotional worry users have about old mail being deleted, the reality is most of them don’t even know what they’re keeping, much less whether it has business value.
Microsoft has removed the emotional barrier to cloud-based mailboxes, but that doesn’t mean you should take that as license to shovel gigabytes of worthless on-premise data into their cloud. The storage might be free, but the journey to get it there isn’t. Migrating data has numerous components which can worry even the most savvy IT organization:
- Bandwidth – mailbox migration is at internet speeds, over your internet connections. Even though fast internet is the norm for most businesses, this is an exception situation – it may take hours to move a large mailbox. In addition, Microsoft’s own software can “throttle-back” migrations if they consume too much bandwidth. After all, this is the same bandwidth which supports the online Exchange ecosystem
- Large files have unique issues – this is seen in vertical industries like healthcare with DICOM images: Exchange Online has a 25MB size limit, and large files can exceed that threshold
- Data availability – email being migrated is not available (so users need to be advised)
- Locally-stored files must also be migrated (PST files) – the maligned yet ever-present PST file isn’t accessible from online mailboxes, so migration is the preferred route – and this can greatly increase the quantity of data being migrated
- Migrations may need to be staged – in the example above, PST files may need to be re-ingested into mailboxes and then migrated, which means temporary storage must be dedicated to the migration
- There will be plenty of exceptions that all need manual interventions
Migration is the perfect opportunity to be choosy about email data
Acknowledging that most of the data in mailboxes has little to any worth, and that PST data can be even less useful, migration is the perfect opportunity to be selective. Companies adopting this approach need to first have a retention strategy that is more focused than a “save everything forever” plan. Those who do – and we have seen retention schemes as simple as 84 months for general archives – can apply these retention schemes prior to migrations.
5 Key Points to Consider
1. Just because you can migrate all of your data, it doesn't mean that you should.
2. Don't pollute your new system with inaccurate, corrupt, duplicate or redundant data.
3. Take a good, hard look at your legacy data and be selective. Is there a valid business or compliance to retain it?
4. Don't forget your PST files. It's an ideal opportunity to manage these and migrate the information you need.
5. Identify your needs and consider your information management strategy for data retention and deletion.