How I messed up my migration to Office 365

Image of illustrated man running towards the office 365 logo

Migrating to Office 365 is only half the battle. The biggest hurdle to jump, even bigger than the actual migration itself, is the planning process. Migrating to a platform like Office 365 without detailed planning is the equivalent of driving a car with a blindfold on. The end results of both are similar…potentially catastrophic outcomes. It’s happened to the best of us, including me!

Watch as I describe my migration scenario (in front of hundreds of people, no less!), and underscore how efficient planning would have saved me loads of time and headaches.


Disclaimer: this transcript has been digitally transcribed and might not be grammatically accurate.

Awesome. So welcome, I see that 2,100 people registered for this session. They told me, “Hey, 20 minutes. Go into little theater and you can do a product intro.” I said, no, I’ll tell them I messed up everything. It will be a lot more fun. So welcome again, my name is Benjamin Niaulin. I work at Sharegate and I may…Since this is recorded, I may kinda say, this other person messed up the migration. So that way I don’t look too bad.

So we’re definitely gonna look… But I only have 20 minutes. So I’m not gonna add a lot of stuff in, we’re just gonna go straight in. And I’m gonna talk to you about some of the things that I have seen, that I have done, that are pretty interesting. If you are in the migration as well, whether it’s Exchange, whether it’s SharePoint, Office 365. There is a whole lot on this. So again, thank you for coming in and let’s get started.

So I always say everyone loves to just start fresh, right. We were just talking a few seconds ago, we’re going to Office 365. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could just start and not bring anything that I ever have to, just start reading news right there. Starting creating sites, start creating new mailboxes and not have to deal with anything. Unfortunately that’s not really the reality. We have to bring everything that we have really, some of the things that we have. We have to be able to bring it to the destination.

We have to bring it to Office 365 in this case. However it is, whatever it is. I’ve heard some…A couple of days ago, somebody was calling us and he was telling me. Man, I don’t know what to do. Our users are everywhere, there is…I’ve pretty much didn’t say it like that, but I lost control. We got stuff on file share, but I caught some people on Google. I caught some people on Evernote, I’ve caught people with all these other products that are not even there anymore. How do I make sure that I can bring all of that to the destination.

Don’t Be Over-Confident: Plan Your Office 365 Migration Carefully

So you do have to think about a lot of these things. How is that going to get to Office 365? This is how this person that messed up the migration felt. [speaking to audience members] Just walk in, don’t worry about it. I’ve done on-premises migration time and time again. I’ve come from Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010. I’ve come from Sharepoint, way too far at Sharepoint 2007, 2010, 2013 and we’re looking at 2016. It’s amazing, I’ve got this. I don’t need to take special care, because it’s Office 365. I’ll just go ahead and wing this migration. Do it overnight, won’t tell anybody. But the worst that can happen, I used to think of the database. Put it at the new space.

So if you’re feeling confident like I was, maybe not the best idea speaking from experience. So when a migration messes up and migration does mess up. I like every time from a vendor perspective how I said, everything is great. Everything is perfect, everything is super easy. Just drag and drop, you’re good. But a lot of the time when they do go, not so good, there is one major reason, in fact there is two major reasons. A little bit of the two, the first one is definitely everybody has got to roll their eyes and say, planning. You got to plan your migration.

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna stay on this. I’ve sat in sessions and everybody is like it’s very important to plan. I’m like, yes, I know that. But how do you plan? What do I have to look at? Where are the pitfalls? How do I fix them? So obviously, every time whether it was my fault or whether it was we’ve seen that with customers, it’s always been its lack of planning. Just a lack of: What are we gonna do with all of this? How are we gonna move? What do we have? I’m gonna go over all of this with detail. There is a lot of views.

All right. This is the biggest issue that I have seen and Office 365, it moves really slowly and there is never any updates or anything. It never changes. It changes all the time, there is new things. I strongly recommend you check out what’s gonna be displayed and talked about today at the Jeff Teper, SharePoint Keynote as well. But there are some very exciting stuff coming. But that also introduces a lot of confusion sometimes, especially if you’re not planning and headed to the right things in your migration. This was my biggest mistake and this was what I’ve seen time and time again afterwards.

Elements To Consider Before Pulling the Trigger on Your Migration to Office 365

In Office 365, you have this thing called OneDrive for Business. I think most of the people have heard it by now. Personal storage of space, personal place for everyone in the company. SharePoint team sites, place for the team to work together in a place that is not owned by anyone of these individuals. OneDrive for Business is owned by the individual. So let me tell you a little story. Back in the days, you used to get Office 365 and it would give you probably something like 10 gigs of space for your site collections, and then you get 500 megs per user that you would add in your Office 365.

Then on the other side they said, well, OneDrive for Business is one terabyte that you get per OneDrive for Business that you do. OneDrive for Business originally comes from SharePoint. So it essentially was a SharePoint team site for one person, the name of that team site was the name of that person, and that person owns it. If you have 100 employees, you get 100 team sites named after the person and owned by that person. Essentially that’s what it was. So some other people, not me. Looked at it and said, “What if I renamed OneDrive for Business, I renamed the site that I created?”

Instead of Benjamin Niaulin, I called it Marketing Team. I called it Sales Team, I called it Project A. Because for us we looked at it, we get one terabyte of storage. We get the list, libraries, everything SharePoint has. Why not? Yeah, we paid the price. Let me tell you, do not do this. Everyone that has done it, a couple of months later. In fact today, they’ve paid the price. Because OneDrive for Business has changed a whole lot and has closed down. Now you get access to that document library and that’s it, you can’t go find the other things. Everything is really… That was a scary moment.

So definitely before you do anything, before you head to Office 365. Make sure you understand the products. Some of these things are gonna change today. You’re gonna wanna hear about Office 365 groups, this whole week. You’re gonna follow that. Afterward we’re gonna hear some of the things that happened today with SharePoint team site. So the impacts are not just there, they are all over the place. So that was very difficult. Now of course here are some of the top, top field migrations that the others have done. Not me, I’m good. I’m a professional, professional.

If you’re gonna go to Office 365, you gotta consider the bandwidth. You’re going to the cloud, you’re going to Office 365. So the funniest thing is, yeah. We’ve got tons of download speed at the office. Yeah, but you’re uploading. So definitely be mindful of that. Because once we started migration and we said, it always takes about a day and a half. Will come back on Monday, we’d be good. No, we had about 2% done. Because we were running the migration from a computer that was at home, just to be able to access it. It was connected to their on premises network, it was connected to Office 365.

So we thought, everything is gonna be okay. But what was the problem is that it was passing through their computer, and therefore using the upload speed of that home network. So that was an extreme scenario. But definitely look into the bandwidth. These days people are contacting me and letting me know, we’ve got terabytes and we need to move that Office 365. Can we do that over the weekend? No. There is the migration API that we look at and that we definitely utilize the tools. But you definitely have to plan your tools, face the migration.

It’s not gonna happen if you’re talking terabytes. We just can’t do it overnight, you can’t promise people that it’s gonna happen overnight either. This is the one I was talking to you about. Send everything to OneDrive for Business and we’re good. Forget SharePoint. But then I have the other problem, not understanding the product. Again, it’s send everything to one SharePoint team site. I’m not gonna say I did that, but I did that. I’ve done that, definitely not a pleasant experience. You gotta understand, SharePoint has limitations nonetheless.

If you put everything right in the middle of announcement, Office 365, SharePoint site collections can go to 25 terabytes. I don’t wanna see that happening as much as possible. One site collection, should not be getting to 25 terabyte in more scenarios. It should be cutting down into pieces and serve it up in a more, kind of say this horizontal level. Because the management nightmare that comes out of that. Believe me, I’ve lived it. How do you manage permissions? Who has access to what? SharePoint doesn’t have deny access to something, it’s only grant access.

So trying to manage that when you’ve set everything into one place, horrible, horrible experience. Then you add on top of that, all these features. You activate and deactivate and of course the actual limitations. There is a 5,000 view threshold. It’s not a limit, it’s a view threshold and yes they are removing that. But it is still, you’ve got to take into consideration for your end-users. You can’t take and go and say you’re good to go, and a library does have a limit of 30,000,000 documents. However, while you start reaching that number. There are some performance, it’s nonetheless trying to load all of that.

So you definitely do not do that. Do not send or shift everything into one place. All right. I don’t think my colleague is here, so I will talk about this story. Don’t tell her, she’s over there. Nathalie, all right. Awesome, always recorded. All right. This was a couple of years, it was actually a SharePoint conference. That’s obvious one of Ignite. We were hanging out, somebody comes up to Nathalie and said. I know your name, I’ve seen your name. She’s like, yeah, yeah. You are from Montreal. Yeah, yeah. Of course it’s where we’re from.

The person says, you are everywhere in our company. Why? So it turns out back in the day she had helped us in consulting, to do the migration. She used the explorer view. The explorer view is a way of drag and drop easily, bring your files into your SharePoint. They had the file on file shares and wanted to bring the files into their Office 365, it was SharePoint back then. But the problem is the same. Every single document in that company to this day, every single document created by Nathalie, modified by Nathalie. On the date and time that she did it. So all of their workflows, their automation, their records management.

So be very careful, you have to be able to maintain those created by, modified by dates. You can use the migration APIs if you’re gonna go to Office 365. Has different names sometimes, the migration timeline. But there is a way to maintain those, of course tools as well. Not only identifying what won’t work, I’ll get to the assessment. I got to watch out for time all the time. But identifying what will work, there aren’t…Office 365 is not the same as what you have on premises. It has more new things, but it doesn’t mean that what you have can’t stay there exactly the same way.

So I’ll get to the method that we use and I’m thinking that you’re gonna do one to one. You have seven sites, there are gonna be seven sites on top. Where you have these many mailboxes, there is also limitations on the size of these mailboxes as well if you migrate them. So there is a lot of considerations to take into when you’re going to Office 365. So this is what I have done. Over the years I came up with a step zero guide. Do your research and proof of concept. I ask somebody, the last thing the other day. She was like, I went OneDrive for Business. I’m getting Office as fast as I can. Like what’s going on?

It’s like where there is these two or three characters that are not supported by the same service. My customers, my users will not have this. So we’re getting off. Research before. First, those character limitations were going away. But you have to understand how the sync works. You have to understand what you’re gonna deploy,how you’re gonna deploy it. We got up there once. Then everybody is like, “How do we sync offline?” And was like, “Do you use the old sync service for OneDrive for Business or the new sync service?” By the way if you’re looking for next-gen sync service and you need it, don’t go deploy the old sync for OneDrive for Business. Because then you’ll get more calls. Then people, how can you rather not have it?

This is probably my biggest fail I would say. As I went to a company, about 5,000 users and we decided that the best idea was to pilot with all the VPs, OneDrive for Business. Why not? Don’t do that. Don’t pilot with the vice presidents or the big managers or whoever is gonna make the decision, as whether or not you’re gonna go in there afterwards. Because there is gonna be issues. So first, make sure you do a lot of research into what it is you’re going into. What does it offer? How does it work? What are the limitations?

Then do a proof of concept, test it up. So this is where I get in. The first thing that I do, the first things that we do now, is you gotta have an inventory of everything that you have. So run an inventory, just to have everything. Because most of the time this is skipped, and this has led to some pretty bad things, where they were, lock it down. Kinda put it away. So we definitely…Mike Foal is not here, all right. So definitely wanna look into that. Do an inventory of what you have and what I do next and if you come, I’ll talk about it in the next session on migration. It goes more into details for 75 minutes, is the assessment.

With your inventory and what you have, can you bring it to Office 365? What are the limitations? You have custom solutions. Do you have Office 365? Do you have SharePoint security groups that are empty? Do you need them? It’s time to do the cleanup, but there are things that actually won’t work as well that you might have to rework. So definitely look into the cleanup. As well as are there empty groups? Are there sites with explicit permission to users that you wanna clean up? Is there empty site collections? Is there things that haven’t been used for six years or six months?

You still wanna bring that into, because what we did is we brought everything into Office 365. You pay for storage, it’s more difficult to migrate, and then you don’t even need the information. People don’t like their Office 365 experience. What I invented, not me. Because somebody invented it for me in the office, as I kept billing. DMR, delete, migrate, rebuild. I do the inventory, I figure out what I have. I categorize it by source. So I always isolate them by the various sources that I have. File share, on-premises, some things is on Dropbox, and I inventory those things.

The next thing that I do is I add a column. All the metadata that I have, I add a column that says. Are we gonna delete this? Are we gonna migrate these? Are we gonna have to rebuild the solution, because it’s different at the destination. Once I identify that, I then add another thing which is a point system. If you’re familiar with Scrum, same point card system. Is it a one or is it a 10 disk effort? Then I can help communicate the milestones and the calendar of the migration. I can do 30 points per month. Choose which ones we’re gonna do and these are the ones that we’re gonna do.

We’re gonna delete 60 of them and rebuild one. We’re going to rebuild 40 of them next month and delete two. You can actually set the expectations. And of course you gotta prepare the architecture and the destination based on that information, and finally migrate. Migrating is the easiest part of this whole thing. You take it, you bring it to the destination that you said you were gonna put it into. So there is the actual move part. Yeah, you’re running into some issues. But it’s not the actual difficult thing with this migration.

Look, it was just 20 minutes. So I do have this complete migration checklist. I do have it open very quickly, I’ll try to show you and put the URL back up. But essentially it’s not a product pitch or anything, there is an actual migration checklist. Everything that you have to look into, all the details. Did you do it? Did you not do it? And then the notes on the side to have a successful migration essentially. So definitely wanna go check it out and go download it for free, it’s coming up. I’ll do a smile. That’s awesome.

So check out the migration checklist, I guarantee you it will help. I brought some other MVPs that are on the development side, that give you advice on, what are you gonna do in case you have custom solutions? What if you have Sandbox solutions? They are blocked now with the ones that have code in them in Office 365. What is your alternative? How are you converting them? And of course, we’re gonna go in full details. I’m accompanied by Simon Bourdages from the Microsoft team, and we’re going to announce some pretty cool stuff that are helping the migration.

This session is BRK24, it will be on Thursday [the recording of this session is now available for viewing], and we’ll be going over a lot more depth into this migration scenario and some of the mistakes that we had. We’ll also cover very large migration scenarios and basically everything you have.

Folks, thank you so much for spending the time with me today. I do hope you’ve got some value to these 20 minutes, instead of me doing a sales pitch of a product. But if you do wanna come and see me, I’ll be at the Sharegate booth at the end. Thank you very much.

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