5 steps to remember when migrating your organization’s email

It’s time to migrate! You might be unwrapping some slick new rack servers, or walking your team through the new cloud solution you’re moving to, but either way, you’re ready to put your old server hardware out to pasture. While it might seem as simple as a massive “cut & paste” of data, there’s also no shortage of places that can slip you up. Here are 5 tips to ensure the move goes off without a hitch.

1) Evaluate the move

Plan the migration. No-brainer, right? Don’t underestimate the importance of getting the details right ahead of time. Depending on the needs of your organization, have you planned how much of the old data will be carried over? You may also need unique tools, if you’re migrating to a new type of platform, or off of very old hardware. At the bare minimum, you should be taking the time to identify:

  • The data you intend to carry over to the new setup
  • The space available on the new platform
  • Any unique needs for the migration process

2) Map a timeline

Depending on your organization, this could either be for leadership to look at, or just for your own benefit. Identify the project’s start date, the time and duration of email downtime, and estimated dates for the loose ends to be completed, such as disposing of old hardware and data. regardless, you should keep downtime in mind, and run the timeline by leadership.

3) Communicate downtime to end users

One of the most critical stages of planning your migration (or any major IT changes) is to communicate any plans for downtime to your organization! Presuming you already discussed a timeline with leadership and any departments majorly affected by email downtime (such as Sales), you need to be sure that this news reaches every possible end-user! One hurdle of this task is to ensure that your heads-up is actually read and received by your users, so it might be worth having someone from high authority send it company-wide, to add some priority to the message!

4) Run a test

Testing will be fairly simple—you’re just confirming that all the correct messages, contacts, and other details were copied over correctly. Your test should:
Check for emails from certain dates to see that all messages were carried over.

  • Check an old list of contacts against a new one.
  • Print a copy of your old calendar to look for consistency between versions.
  • If it doesn’t work, just remigrate! You haven’t deleted anything, so there’s no big loss. Just check your event logs for any errors, and give it another go.

5) Disposing of old hardware & data

You may be eager to get the organization up on new hardware, but don’t forget to make a plan for the old technology. If you’re lucky enough to have no need to hang onto them (which may be the whole point of the migration), there are many ways out there to properly go about recycling. If you’re hanging onto the old hardware, be sure it’s kept under lock & key, and off the network (assuming it’s even powered on and running). If the old data wasn’t important enough to get migrated to the new platform, then it’s not important enough that everyone needs unfettered access to it.

When it comes time to decide on keeping old data, you may find that you can part with a large portion of it! Small businesses might make an educated decision to delete anything older than a few years, because it’s no longer mission critical at that point, but for a law firm, this old data may need to remain hosted in some form for archival purposes. Look at how much your organization actually needs these old messages, and you might be surprised.
The process of migrating can be tedious, but these tips should help you through without too much stress. Are you tired of migrating? You might try breaking the cycle and leaving servers in the past entirely! Switching to a cloud-based email platform could be the last time you have to migrate ever.

Read on with this case study on an 800+ user organization who migrated to Google Apps with the help of an MSP.

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About

Steve Chang is a senior member of Newmind’s Managed Services team. Leading large network overhauls to one-on-one training with end users, Steve has been in the IT industry for over 18 years. In his free time, he likes to spend time with his family and friends, dabble in the culinary arts as well as videography, and protect his local community from evildoers.