Tag: Migrations

Overcome Teams Migration Challenges with Agility and the Right Tools

By David Mills, Director of Product Management, BitTitan

In the unified communications market, Microsoft Teams has proven to be a dominant player, with adoption rates surging. In July, Microsoft reported that Teams has reached 13 million daily active users to outpace rival platforms. By comparison, its primary competitor, Slack, recently reported 12 million daily active users.

Further fueling Teams’ success is the year-over-year increase of activity in the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market. In a report on 2019 M&A trends from Deloitte, industry experts from corporate and private-equity organizations overwhelmingly predict a sustained increase in M&A deals over the next 12 months. Considering Microsoft’s strong market presence with Office 365 products and services – particularly among larger organizations – this M&A activity is likely to increase adoption of Teams when smaller companies migrate from other platforms. And this increased activity of merging and separating businesses is driving the need for Teams migration projects.

However, a multitude of hurdles exist, as vendors and businesses are searching for an ideal solution to handle Teams migrations. So, what specifically are the difficulties standing in the way?

Three Challenges

The first challenge facing MSPs and IT professionals is that Microsoft has yet to release full fidelity for its Teams migration API, so IT pros must rely on what’s available via Microsoft’s Graph API and SharePoint API. This is not ideal because these solutions need further refinement to enable seamless and efficient Teams migrations.

The second challenge surrounds the complexity of Teams, as the platform is comprised of many individual components, such as Teams, channels, conversations and user permissions. All these parts need to be migrated in the proper sequence, along with the underlying SharePoint site and folder structure.

Finally, when conducting a Teams migration in a merger scenario, it is not uncommon to encounter Teams or channels that have the same names or username conflicts. These issues can present migration problems that can lead to extended downtime for your users or customer. It is important that MSPs and IT professionals be aware of these challenges before beginning a Teams migration. A little planning will help avoid obstacles and ensure a successful migration.

Solutions on the Market

As MSPs and IT professionals search for the ideal Teams migration tool, there are a few important requirements to consider. First, look for a tool that has the scalability to move an abundance of files and handle large workloads. Given the complex nature of Teams, migration tools must also provide flexibility. Many companies are increasingly wanting to conduct partial migrations and restrict the movement of specific files during a migration, deviating from the normal “lift-and-shift” approach.

Reliable solutions for Teams migrations are becoming available on the market. Earlier this year, BitTitan added Teams migration capabilities to MigrationWiz, its 100-percent SaaS solution for mailbox, document and public-folder migrations. These capabilities enable MSPs and IT professionals to migrate Teams instances and their individual components, including Teams, channels, conversations and permissions. MSPs and IT pros can leverage MigrationWiz to conduct a pre-migration assessment to better gauge the timeline of a Teams migration, the number of required licenses and an overall estimate of the project scope and cost.

BitTitan continues to release Teams migration enhancements that allow MSPs and IT pros more flexibility when conducting Teams migrations. These updates offer MSPs and IT pros some compelling capabilities, including the ability to:

  • Rename Teams in bulk from the Source to the Destination to avoid file-name duplication and username conflict.
  • Exclude guest accounts from the overall assessment count.
  • Move conversation history to the Destination while maintaining similar formatting from the Source.
  • Support Teams instances of U.S. government tenants. This is a crucial sector of the market that requires careful and calculated action when conducting migrations to ensure compliance and security regulations are met.

The new Teams migration features are the result of soliciting partner feedback on how to best meet their needs, with more updates to come soon.

“BitTitan really stepped up for this project,” said Chuck McBride, founder of Forsyte IT Solutions. “We looked at several other solutions, but when we scoped the size of the project and workloads, BitTitan brought us the best option for everything we wanted to do.”

Adopting an Agile Approach to Teams

With the absence of a full-fidelity API from Microsoft, MSPs and IT professionals continue to refine the process for migrating Teams to deliver the most seamless migration possible. As updates and enhancements continue to roll out, MSPs and IT pros must adopt an agile approach to continually meet the evolving needs of users and customers, and ensure they’re leveraging the most current APIs for migrations.

By assessing the landscape up front, leveraging available tools and maintaining an agile approach, MSPs and IT pros will position themselves to successfully meet the growing demand around Teams migrations – and they’ll be well-positioned to address the challenges that arise.

Bio
David Mills is Director of Product Management at BitTitan, driving product strategy, defining product roadmaps and ensuring customer success. David is an experienced product management leader with more than two decades of industry experience. Prior to BitTitan, he worked as a principal consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a product manager at Microsoft and director of product management at Avanade. His areas of expertise include product planning, cloud infrastructure and applications, and marketing communication.

Seamless Tenant-to-Tenant Migrations Through Coexistence

By Kelsey Epps, Senior Technical Partner Strategist, BitTitan

There’s no question that businesses have adopted the cloud, big-time. In fact, Reuters reports that Microsoft has been shifting its reliance from the Windows operating system toward selling cloud-based services. Revenues have topped $1 trillion as the software giant predicts even more cloud growth.

Now that businesses have moved so many of their key workloads out of on-premises servers and shifted them into the cloud, the great wave of on-prem-to-cloud migrations is past its peak. With the cloud so well-entrenched, IT departments and service providers are being asked more and more to migrate workloads from one cloud instance to another. There are a variety of business reasons for making such a move, whether it’s employee preferences for a given software stack, realigning contracts, or utilizing APIs that are a better business fit.

It would seem that once a set of workloads is in the cloud, moving them to another cloud instance should be a straightforward process. However, ensuring business continuity through a cloud-to-cloud migration is every bit as tricky as an on-prem-to-cloud move.

In fact, now that workers are enjoying the work-from-anywhere access that the cloud provides, they may even be less tolerant or forgiving of any interruption in their user experience. When workers expect uninterrupted data access and seamless collaboration through the transition, the “Big Bang” approach of migrating everything in a single sequence, user-by-user or workload-by-workload until the job is done is rarely an option. Organizations are increasingly turning to a batched approach with their migrations, which targets specific groups or departments to migrate at the most opportune times.

This approach offers many benefits, but also its own challenges, because when a batched approach is taken, end users will exist on both the Source and Destination. This is where tenant-to-tenant coexistence comes into play to help facilitate the move.

Tenant-to-tenant migrations defined

A tenant-to-tenant (T2T) migration is a form of cloud-to-cloud migration where the Source and Destination applications are the same; the move is from one instance of the applications to another instance of the same applications. In the case of Office 365, the scope of applications and supporting data typically includes mailboxes, personal archives or personal storage tables (PST files), OneDrive or SharePoint files, and of course, the data files associated with the various Office 365 applications.

Migrating a business (or a subset of one) is a challenge because of the heavy reliance on email communications and calendars. Users have no way of knowing who among their coworkers have migrated to the Destination and who have yet to do so.

What is the impact of this? Emails bounce back to the sender or pile up in a mailbox that’s no longer accessible. Meeting invites are missed, or users are erroneously double-booked because the free/busy information associated with their calendars is no longer available to all users, as some are still working from the Source and others from the Destination. These obstacles work against the primary goal that the IT team brings to any migration: to make the whole process seamless and essentially invisible to the users.

Continuous collaboration through coexistence

Coexistence is a migration technique that gets around the synchronization problems and keeps users happily working and collaborating with each other even though they’re being migrated at different times. When a migration is the result of a merger, acquisition or divestiture, an entire organization, department or division is moving from SourceCompany.com to DestinationCompany.com. It’s the ideal scenario for taking advantage of coexistence. All one has to do is follow these easy steps:

  • First, enable organizational sharing of the Office 365 tenants. For all users to be migrated, create mail-enabled contacts on the Destination that resolve to each individual’s mailbox on the Source.
  • As you migrate each user, remove the mail-enabled contact from the Destination. Create an Office 365-licensed user account to establish the new mailbox, with a forward that points back to the Source mailbox. This allows the user to keep working in the Source mailbox. Migrate the mailbox items from the Source to the Destination.
  • Finally, after you migrate each user, remove the forward on the Destination mailbox. On the Source, you can remove the mailbox and replace it with a mail-enabled contact that points to the Destination mailbox. Or, keep the mailbox in place and forward to the new Destination.

Plan ahead for swift execution

Coexistence is an effective technique, especially if you combine it with selective migration of older files or emails that are less likely to be needed and move them either before or after the active migration. This enables you to make the whole process quick and seamless. Put coexistence in your toolkit and use it the next time you’re faced with a tenant-to-tenant migration between domains. Of course, careful preplanning is the key — as it is with any migration.

Bio
Kelsey Epps is a senior technical partner strategist with
BitTitan. A 20-year IT industry veteran, Kelsey works with MSPs and IT specialists on the technical preplanning aspects of the most complex migrations projects.