Office 365

Video: Top 5 Things to Consider when Migrating PST Data to Office 365

In this video you'll find out about the top 5 things to consider when migrating PST data files to Office 365:

In this video you'll find out about the top 5 things to consider when migrating PST data files to Office 365:


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Below is a transcript of the video:

Hi and welcome,

I’m Steve and today I’d like to talk about the top five things to consider when migrating PST data to Office 365.

1. Understand the Impact

Depending on how your Microsoft Exchange and Outlook policies were configured over the years, it’s probable critical business data contained within PST files may be scattered across workstations and network shares. PST files represent a MAJOR source of risk when it comes to knowing where sensitive corporate data is stored. They also create significant desktop management and support challenges for IT.

For these reasons and more, organizations frequently seek to remove outdated and out of control PST files from the environment

Unfortunately, a majority of end users are most likely relying on data within the PST files to conduct day-to-day business activities. To form a successful strategy to remove PSTs, it is critical to consider the end user or business productivity impacts and map out a process that addresses them.

I encourage you to try to visualize how the overall process should look in your organization and how the migration of PST data may potentially disrupt day to day operations

Consider key elements like:

  • A clear communications strategy What types of communication are provided at what points in the process?
  • Regional or group disparities – will various user segments need to be handled differently or with more care?
  • The complexities of a remote workforce – what are the potential network and security concerns?
  • Data access during the migration – will users have a truly transparent migration experience?
  • The desired end state – what does this look like to minimize confusion and help desk tickets?

On top of this, try to work out unique aspects of YOUR organization which may be relevant and ensure those are covered as your strategy takes shape.

2. Choose the Right Approach

Once you understand the impact and potential challenges, your chosen migration approach should be flexible enough to cope with the individual process requirements. While there are free Microsoft tools available to import PST files natively, organizations often struggle to use them because they only address limited steps and offer no automation.

For example, when using the Microsoft free tools:

  • PST files will still need to be collected and mapped to user mailboxes manually

Manual collection means end users will lose access to the data during the entire process causing interruption. Any end-user communication would need to be done manually and will not be timed appropriately. Combine that with limited failure tracking, lack of proper chain of custody, and overall poor project governance capabilities, the free tools don’t work at any kind of scale.

Larger enterprises who require automation, flexibility, and governance should consider investing in a technology to offer the highest probability of success. Fortunately, there are several technologies available on the market. When looking at which one is best for your project, focus on ensuring maximum flexibility for orchestrating your entire PST migration as a business process.

Additionally, take note of infrastructure requirements as some solutions require a significant server and storage footprint. For some, these requirements may conflict with an overall push to leverage cloud resources.

Cloudficient PSTComplete technology leverages the ReMAD Platform which is 100% cloud native technology. The platform unlocks the scalability of the cloud combined with a fully customizable workflow engine to ensure the PST migration plan meets the needs of your organization. Along with our local workstation agent, PSTComplete easily handles geo-dispersed environments, migrating hundreds to thousands of users in parallel. With the ability to accommodate the demands of a remote workforce, PSTComplete migrates PST data directly from the end-user workstation to their target mailbox without unnecessary intermediate staging.

Whatever company or technology you’re looking at, make sure to understand and be comfortable with the underlying architecture and approach

3. Always do a Proof of Concept! AlwaysCloud Migration CTA

Our experience clearly demonstrates that every customer environment has its own unique challenges, especially when it comes to the difficulties of migrating PST files. For example, you might expect that if you have two customers with a similar setup and project size that you use the same process steps and get the same migration throughput.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t help you to know what your technology vendor’s maximum speed was in one of their last projects or how they made it successful, because it may be completely different in your environment. An enterprise PST Migration project requires a significant investment of time and resources and is not a trivial undertaking. To remove as much project risk as possible, it is critical to make sure the solution works as described.

The easiest way to do that is to conduct a Proof of Concept against users and data in your environment. During the Proof of Concept, you’ll be able to introduce the process to your end-user community and gain valuable feedback in determining how they see the overall end-to-end process working. This will allow you to tune the process for an optimal end-user experience

4. Plan ... Plan ... and Plan ...

As the IT team begins to think about executing the proven approach on a wide scale, now is the time to build a solid plan. At this point it’s important to recall important items from #1, Understanding the Impact, and ensure they are completely covered – matching key strategy areas with actual process methodologies. The more processes that can be thought out in advance, the better.

Here are some key tactical elements for your consideration:

  • Identification – ensure you are covering all locations where PST data may reside, perform relevant discoveries, and review the overall results
  • Priorities & Cadence – Based on the results of your identification, map out the general steps required
  • Timetable – Test the process… review and track various pilots to determine how long it will take
  • Resource Alignment – Get people, data, and environments ready to migrate
  • Execution & Optimization – Start executing at scale as the comfort level grows, identify and reduce bottlenecks wherever possible
  • Communications – Ensure multiple communications to help users adjust to change
  • Reporting – Ensure comprehensive dashboards tracking progress are available for executive review

The good news is that you can do a lot of things to prepare your systems and your organization for this challenge and we’re here to help.

5. Prepare for the Unexpected

Unexpected challenges will come up in any technology initiative, and PST migrations are no exception. Make sure your team is ready to handle and adapt to any surprises that come up during the project. You might have seen our blogs on Microsoft Service Protection Throttling.

Microsoft changes the rules from time to time – products and processes need to adapt

While that is just one example of something that may affect your migration, here are some other areas to watch out for:

  • Management or executive users may require a white-glove service with a custom communication plan
    • This could help build more visibility and sponsorship for the project
  • A significant number of orphaned PST files may be discovered
    • Even though its not used on a daily basis, this data may still need to be retained for legal and compliance purposes
  • PST ownership may not be automatically determined for a variety of reasons
    • To keep the project moving, it’s important to handle this quickly
  • Challenges or conflicts with required agent software may occur
    • This is somewhat inevitable with all the various end user workstation configurations
  • Potential storage size limits where Office 365 is the target
    • It's not uncommon to fill the desired target with migrated PST data
    • Auto-expanding archives may help, but are slow to accommodate

There will no doubt be other unexpected items that come up during a PST migration.

If you’ve decided on PSTComplete as your chosen migration approach, rest assured the solution can easily accommodate multiple workflows with flexibility to adjust to whatever challenges arise.

Okay that’s everything that I wanted to cover in this video. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Understand the impact … and how to achieve your business goals with the least amount of disruption to end users
  • Choose the right approach … does the method align with business needs and offer the highest probability of success.
  • Always do a proof of concept … before you make any significant investment to ensure that success
  • Make a detailed plan … and stick to it. Outline the success criteria and avoid scope creep
  • Prepare for the unexpected … be ready to mobilize the project team quickly to resolve problems when the arise

With unmatched next generation migration technology, Cloudficient is revolutionizing the way businesses retire legacy systems and transform their organization into the cloud. Our business constantly remains focused on servicing client needs and creating solution offerings that match them.

If you would like to learn more about how to bring Cloudficiency to your migration project, please visit our website:

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