MIGRATION IN PRACTICE – MOVING EMAIL TO THE CLOUD
Email is possibly the most common service we will move to the cloud for our clients on migration day.
Office 365 offers dramatic scalability and cost benefits to many businesses still using traditional on-site email servers, meaning we’ve become past masters at migrating to Microsoft’s flagship cloud email service (in addition to other cloud email providers), from a range of legacy mail solutions.
Our method for migrating email to the cloud might differ in small ways from client to client but fundamentally, the high-level process we follow is along the following lines:
- Firstly, we implement the designated email solution in our client’s new cloud architecture
- Next, we commence synchronisation of all mail (plus any calendar and contact functionality) from the pre-existing on-site email server to the new cloud email system
- We then make a live switch, so that all incoming mail routes via the new cloud email platform, meaning users will slowly start to use the new solution to collect and send their mail. This will not happen for all users instantaneously, as it takes time for DNS records to propagate throughout the internet. Remote users, for example, may continue to use the old email server via their traditional means
- The synchronisation from an old email server to the new cloud email servers continues indefinitely, so any mail received/sent via the legacy solution is replicated over to the new cloud email servers (ensuring no mail goes missing during the process). We keep this synchronisation running for several days after migration, to be on the safe side
- Only when we’re confident that mail has ceased to arrive or send via the legacy email solution do we turn off and decommission the legacy email server
The migration process for moving email delivery to a cloud solution is actually remarkably similar to how a change to a traditional mail delivery route might have been handled, 100 years ago or more.
Consider a new railway track, built to facilitate a new post house for receiving mail.
While the railway line and post-house itself is under construction, mail continues to be delivered via the existing rail infrastructure. Once the new post-house is open for business (receiving mail), the new railway siding is opened up for delivery by rail.
However, not all the train drivers have been debriefed, and some continue to use the old route, in the short-term.
Any mail delivered to the old post-house needs to be ported manually over to the new post-house, for a short while, to ensure delivery is not impacted. After a week, it becomes clear that mail is no longer arriving at the old location, so the old post-house no longer needs to be staffed, and can close down.