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Moving from Cloud-First to Cloud-Only

Planning on moving from Cloud-First to Cloud-Only ?

Recent article in IT Pro Portal describes how SMBs can Benefit from shifting to the Cloud.

The cloud is no longer an emerging technology market. In fact, 80% of the Fortune 500 is on the Microsoft Cloud, and Gartner expects that by 2019, more than 30% of the 100 largest vendors’ new software investments will have shifted from cloud-first to cloud-only. Unfortunately, adoption of the cloud hasn’t been as fast for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Only 64% of SMBs currently use a cloud-based software, according to a survey by BCSG. The good news is that 88% indicate they are considering using at least one cloud app in the next 2-3 years. Early adopters characterize the current market. So, what’s holding the rest back?  Read More

CloudAlly own CEO interview in IT Pro Portal quoted as saying: “Worry about data loss is one of the biggest barriers I run across when it comes to cloud adoption,” says Avi Katz, CEO of CloudAlly, an all-in-one cloud-to-cloud data backup and recovery solution for Microsoft Office 365, Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, G Suite, Salesforce, and Box.com. “

Its time to backup your cloud based solutions, starting with Office 365 and G Suite.

The Foundation of a Successful Office 365 Migration

Office 365 Backup and Restore – Migration Plan

Migrating to Office 365 has become common practice. Businesses large and small have been attracted to the online environment as a way to save money, increase efficiency, and improve business continuity. The issue is that too many organizations take Office 365 migration lightly and don’t include such basic foundational items as: Office 365 backup and restore.

Office 365 migrations are not simple cookie-cutter processes. To do it correctly requires experience in Exchange, Office 365, archives, security, DNS, storage, firewalls, proxies, networking, backups, and more. And with so many different products in the Microsoft Office 365 Suite, comprehensively covering the entire migration process can be a challenge.

So, what makes a successful Office 365 migration to cloud? It’s all about having a solid foundation and avoiding these common pitfalls.

4 Tips for Successful Office 365 Migration

1. Choose an Appropriate Migration Method

There are four different migration methods that companies can choose from, and each method has its pros and cons. For example, there’s a lot of hype surrounding Exchange Server migrations to Office 365, stating that it can be completed in six easy steps. But the reality is that only the smallest organizations can get away with such a simplified migrations. The key to success is choosing the right method for your business.

  • Cut-over Migration: This is considered the easiest of all migration methods. Basically, it transfers all mailboxes, users, contacts, and mail groups to Office 365 in one fell swoop. The downside to this migration type is that it’s limited. It works best for small business owners because cutover migrations can only handle up to 1,000 mailboxes and may take several days to complete.
  • Hybrid Migration: This is a much more complicated migration method and involves moving only some on-premise capabilities to Office 365 while leaving the rest to be managed on-location. The biggest difficult with this migration type is deciding what should be transferred and strategically planning for it. For example, with a hybrid migration you can decide to keep your SharePoint data in-house while moving your mailboxes online.
  • Staged Migration: This migration works best for those companies who can’t afford any downtime and want to opt into only migrating a few resources at a time. Just like the cut-over migration, staged migration is limited to fewer than 1,000 mailboxes, but there is little disruption for users.
  • Third-Party Migrations: The final migration approach, and our recommendation, is to use a data migration expert. Many cloud partners have their own Office 365 tools with a dedicated team of experts to ensure the migration goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Understand Office 365 Limitations

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to Office 365 migration plans. That’s because every business has different needs, and require you to perform due diligence on what Office 365 can handle before you move forward.

For example, Office 365 offers a variety of support plans and they were not all created equal. If you’re going hybrid, it’s essential that you have a support plan in place that supports Azure Active Directory Synchronization. The solution:

Another limitation is the inability to keep legacy archive solutions on-premise. The reality is that when you move your mailboxes to the cloud, you break the stubs and so users are unable to access archived email. The solution is to use your own third-party Office 365 backup and restore archive solution to handle the export, rehydration, and upload process. That’s where CloudAlly comes in handy. With the click of a button, we make it easy to create a zip download containing Outlook compatible PST format.

And if you choose the hybrid migration method, you need to understand the differences between the Exchange environments. If you have an Exchange 2007/2010 environment set up, then you’ll need at least one Exchange 2013 Client Access and Mailbox server ready to run the Hybrid Configuration wizard. And if your business doesn’t have Exchange 2013, you’ll have to update before going hybrid.

Finally, Office 365 is limited in its message recovery ability. Office 365 cannot perform message retrieval beyond the deleted item retention period. This can be a major problem for admins, but there’s an easy solution. Use CloudAlly to perform daily-automated backups of all your Office 365 information and keep it forever with unlimited storage and unlimited retention.

2. Don’t Skimp on Migration Infrastructure

When planning a migration, there are some infrastructure requirements you have to adhere to. Technically, a migration can run solely on virtual hardware, but it t4ends to result in performance problems except for smaller organizations. Microsoft recommends that larger businesses use Exchange 2013 and 2010 hybrid servers. We also recommend having a server that is running Active Directory Federation Services. This server can be used to handle identity management between the Office 365 cloud and your on-premise environment.

3. Implement a Cloud-to-Cloud Backup Service for Exchange Online

Office 365 Exchange Online lacks the daily backup and point-in-time recovery process that was probably present in your hosted Exchange environment. This means that you no longer have the ability to recover data lost or corrupt data once you’re up and running in your new Office 365 online environment. The recycle bin provides short-term recovery of individual items but can be hard deleted by a user. Exchange Online Archiving (EOA) provides immutable protection of individual items, but lacks the ability to recover a complete mailbox, folder, calendar, etc. Individual Items must be queried using eDiscovery, exported to an eDiscovery mailbox, and then downloaded, before moving back to the source mailbox.

CloudAlly’s Office 365 backup and restore service is compatible with all plans, includes Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks, and you can backup user and shared mailboxes, as well as public folders.

CloudAlly’s restore process allows you to non-destructively, recover lost or corrupt data, or export it in Outlook compatible format. You can even drill down through each backup by date or keyword to quickly search and located specific data, or perform a complete point-in-time recovery at an hierarchical level.

In the end, a successful Office 365 migration is dependent on using the right tools and having a complete backup and recovery solution in place once the migration is complete. While Microsoft provides some decent tools for migrating Exchange Server mailboxes to Office 365, they don’t provide everything. Familiarize yourself with all available migration tools, understand Exchange Online limitations, and consider CloudAlly’s Office 365 Exchange Backup to provide ongoing protection of your Exchange Online data.

It’s worth it.

5 Reasons to Move Your Business to the Cloud

The cloud has changed the way we manage our data and infrastructure. Because of the myriad benefits, more and more businesses have started embracing it these days. Hence; 5 Reasons to Move Your Business to the Cloud – are essential to your ongoing business.

According to a recent study by Goldman Sachs, the investment on cloud computing platforms and infrastructure will increase at a 30% CAGR compared to 5% growth for overall enterprise IT. 42% of IT leaders plan to invest more on cloud computing in 2015 as per a Computerworld report. By 2018, over 60% of enterprises expect to have at least 50% of their infrastructure on cloud-based platforms, according to Bill McNee from Saugatuck Technology.

These reports show how rapidly the cloud is growing, but the core question is why are these businesses increasing their spending? What benefits can it bring to a business and does it really pay off? Let’s find out.

 Reasons to Move Your Business to the Cloud

1.Reduces IT Expenses

Zero Capital Investment

Setting up a physical infrastructure needs a large amount of capital investment, but the cloud doesn’t require any major infrastructure deployment as that is taken care by your cloud provider and so you don’t need to make a hefty CAPEX.

Lower Resource Costs

You need resources to manage your servers and reliable resources are expensive; their compensation, benefits, and other associated employment costs could be far greater than your total hardware and software costs. Moreover, the cost of recruiting the right resource is also significant as well.

When you move to the cloud, you don’t need to worry about resource costs as your provider has their own in-house resources to take care of your data. They are always available whenever you need them and at a fraction of the cost as you just need to pay for their service and nothing else.

2.Scalable

One of the biggest issues with physical infrastructure is scalability. If your business grows, you need to increase your IT infrastructure as well and that requires significant investments in hardware and software, hiring new resources for maintenance, and the immense effort and time costs involved as well.

The cloud easily nullifies your worries about scalability. For example, if you don’t need a large amount of data storage right now, but forecast that you’ll need it later on, all you need to do is just pay for the space you require right now, and then get more space when you need it.

You can easily upgrade or downgrade your storage plan as per your requirements at that time, without any hassles in setup, recruitment, and maintenance resulting in greater flexibility and agility.

An example of how scalable the cloud is, Microsoft’s cloud storage solution OneDrive for Business. It costs only $5 per month per user and comes with one TB of storage space. If your employee count increases, you just need to pay for the storage space per user and Microsoft will handle the rest itself.

3.Keeps Your Data Safe

Today, due to the increasing amount of advanced security threats, the probability of data loss and theft has increased manifold. When your data is stored on local storage or server, any cyber-attack can cripple your organization. Moreover, if your server crashes, you could end up losing your data permanently.

Can you afford to lose sensitive data?

When you store your data in the cloud, you don’t need to worry about security. Most cloud providers pay a lot of attention to security measures such as the availability of highly skilled security specialists 24/7, biometric security to access their data centers, physical security guards on site, redundant power, and strong file encryption.

However, even though your cloud provider takes care of your local data, in regarding to uptime and availability, it doesn’t cover risks like user error, sync malfunction and they only backup you have is the recycle bin.  That is why, when you move your data to the cloud you also need to set up a cloud-to-cloud backup solution as well to add an extra layer of security. Incidents that might wipe out your data completely are rare, but not unknown. You can avoid permanent data loss by backing up your cloud data to another cloud.

For example, if you accidentally delete your data stored on Google Drive of Office 365 and don’t notice the accidental deletion within 30-days (or more, depending your pricing plan), your data will be lost forever and Google won’t be able to help you recover it. But, if you have a backup service that backs up your data automatically at regular intervals, you wouldn’t lose all your data.

4.Simplifies Communication and Collaboration

Whether it’s document sharing, real-time editing, or other forms of collaboration, the cloud enables you do it from anywhere and anytime easily. An example is Microsoft’s productivity suite Office 365. It comes with:

  • Outlook email – a cloud-based email solution that helps you access your email from anywhere
  • SharePoint Online – it makes data organization and sharing easy with all team members
  • Skype for Business – which facilitates live chat or video conferencing with your team members from any part of the world
  • OneDrive storage – where you can store your crucial data and share with anyone easily
  • Office suite – which helps you to create documents and collaborate with your team members easily, at the same time

The best part about cloud-based collaboration tools is that they are accessible from anywhere in the world.

5.Enables You to Test Before You Buy

When it comes to software or a server, businesses can make the mistake of embracing new technology without first understanding what kind of value it would deliver to them. They make huge up-front investments without testing the system beforehand, and that is a very risky move.

On the other hand, cloud applications encourage you to test their services before you buy. This helps you determine whether it is even relevant and viable for your organization or not.

An example is the cloud-based CRM solution, Salesforce. It comes with several products for sales, marketing, and analytics, and comes with a 14-day free trial. Within that period, you can test their service and see if it really is beneficial for your business or not.

Conclusion

There are numerous reasons why cloud infrastructure is the way forward, but these reasons vary based on individual requirements and usage scenarios. Because of that, it is always better to first talk to a professional consultant who knows the pros and cons of the system you’re opting for. That person will help you plan for the implementation properly.

Do you plan to migrate to the cloud in the near future? What are the biggest challenges you are expecting, and how will you counter them? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

Read more about Why you need to backup Google Apps and Office 365