Microsoft Office365 Migration doesn’t have to be scary

New Flexible deployment and migration options with Exchange 2010 Service Pack 2

On Tuesday the Exchange team announced the impending release of Exchange 2010 Service Pack 2 and gave us all a sneak peek into what is being included in this pack. As with Service Pack 1, it doesn't disappoint and the list of goodness will make many users of Microsoft's messaging platform very happy. For me however, the most exciting bit of news is that the "Hybrid Configuration Wizard" is to be included.

Hybrid Configuration Wizard: Organizations can choose to deploy a hybrid scenario where some mailboxes are on-premises and some are in Exchange Online with Microsoft Office365. Hybrid deployments may be needed for migrations taking place over weeks, months or indefinite timeframes. This wizard helps simplify the configuration of Exchange sharing features, like: calendar and free/busy sharing, secure mail flow, mailbox moves, as well as online archive.

The ability to co-exist with other versions of Microsoft Exchange has always been incredibly important for customers who have to upgrade. This is especially true for so many customers that like to skip releases in order to maximize their investment in a particular version who then end up not being able to perform a direct migration to the latest version! The Exchange Server Deployment Assistant has already been around for some time, providing customers with valuable information on what they have to do in order to migrate to new configurations and has included advice on how to set up co-existence between Office365 and earlier versions of Exchange.

This is brilliant news for Exchange Administrators looking at all the available options for deployment. It lays out clearly the options and in detail what needs to be done to achieve each of the architectural options available. Unfortunately- there's no such thing as a free lunch, so there's still plenty of configuration work to be done, but there could be some valuable upside in mixing Cloud and on Premise to produce Hybrid deployments. One scenario in particular I really like is the kiosk workers- previously they didn't have corporate email and with Office365 they can have email from $2.00 per month. We think it's really important that IT can finally start making informed decisions on moving users to the cloud in careful controlled ways, that make sense to them and utilise the skills and experience they have. We're helping our customers do this with our intelligent gateway services to swing selected users from one system to another without any impact on other users. This means that they can truly test the Cloud and assess all the softer things like network impact of running users in the cloud, latency and, most importantly, user experience before going "all in". This new wizard will hopefully go a long way to simplify the process of setting up co-existence and could well be the tool that causes organizations to dare to dip their toes in the water of Microsoft's Office365 solution. I can't wait to see how much this Wizard manages to accomplish as it is about time it wasn't only Mimecast advocating organizational flexibility.