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Email Migration Checklist - Preparing Your MIGRATION TO EXCHANGE 2016

Posted by Debbie Howlett

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Jan 4, 2017 6:45:00 PM

Migrating your organization’s email to Exchange 2016, whether it be on premises or in the cloud with Office 365, is a large undertaking—it requires extensive planning and preparation. Knowing the right steps and having an email migration checklist are key to ensuring a successful migration. Our Email Migration Checklist provides important information and recommendations to help you better understand the migration process and ensure a successful migration to Exchange 2016. 

Our experience with email migrations has helped us narrow down the six most crucial steps you need to include in your email migration checklist to ensure success:

Step 1: Migration Project Assessment, Planning and Design
Step 2: Archiving Data in Your Existing System
Step 3: User Provisioning and Client Deployment
Step 4: Data Injection
Step 5: Cut Over to Exchange 2016
Step 6: Completing Post-Migration Tasks

Step 1: Migration Project Assessment, Planning and Design Project Assessment
You cannot begin your migration project without having a clear and realistic picture of what the project actually entails. You need to know what resources you already have, what resources you will need, and how much time it will take to complete the project.

Once you have completed your project assessment, you need to plan out your overall migration project. When drawing up your plan, you need to answer the following questions: 

  • What are your business requirements? (Disaster Recovery, Compliance, etc.) 
  • What are your storage requirements?
  • How much data do you need to retain?
  • How much data do you want to inject into the Exchange 2016 system?
  • What data do you need to migrate (mail, appointments, address books, etc.)?
  • When do you want to migrate users (certain times, days, weeks, months)? Can you afford any downtime?
  • Are you compliant? Do you need to review old and/or establish new email retention policies?
  • Could your organization use an archiving solution once the migration is complete?

You also need to plan your new Exchange system, including messaging routing design, messaging access design, and messaging storage design. Using the information gathered from your resource assessments, you will be able to plan out your new infrastructure and acquire the appropriate software, hardware, and/or tools, as required.

It is important that a comprehensive communication plan is created in order to keep all users affected by the email migration, including Executive Management, the project team, and users, up to date with the progress of the project.

Step 2: Archiving Data in Your Existing System
You need to prepare your existing messaging system for data extraction and archiving. To do so, ensure that you install the necessary hardware, your archiving solution, and any other necessary components on your current messaging system.

Archiving before migrating eliminates the transfer of unnecessary data onto the new Exchange system. There is no need for messages which are not accessed frequently (or ever) to reside on the live messaging system and take up space on expensive storage. Archiving your data allows you to free up that storage space and reduce server bloat. For example, if you have 1TB of data stored on your existing messaging system and inject it directly into the Exchange system, the server may bloat up to 2-3TB in size because single-instance storage (SIS) is not supported in Exchange 2016 and data is replicated in Exchange 2016. However, if you first archive that data, you will be able to inject only a fraction of it (0-150GB) into the live Exchange system. Furthermore, injecting a smaller amount of data into the Exchange system rather than all of it reduces the risk of messages being lost and/or files getting corrupted during the data transfer.

Step 3: User Provisioning and Client Deployment User Provisioning
Before data can be migrated to the Exchange 2016 system, you need to first provision your users in Active Directory and mail-enable them for the new email platform. This will allow users to access their existing mail, future and recurring appointments, tasks, notes, calendars, and personal address books once they have been moved to the new system. If desired, system administrators can also migrate the system address book, distribution lists, proxy rights, and more.

Step 4: Data Injection
After all Exchange accounts have been created and mail enabled, archived data can be injected into the live Exchange 2016 system. The amount of data to be injected into Exchange depends on your retention policy. For example, if your organization requires that 90 days’ worth of email resides in the live Exchange mailbox, then only that amount of data will be injected into the system. Mail older than 90 days will remain in the archive; however, users will still be able to access their archived items. Be sure to monitor the injection process and validate and test client access as user data is moved over to the new system.

Step 5: Cut Over to Exchange 2016
Before making the final cut over to Exchange, you need to perform a final collection of messages from your existing messaging system (from the last two weeks, for example), inject that data into Exchange, and carry out a final validation of your Exchange system. When you are confident that all Exchange system components are functioning correctly, you can then make the decision to go live with your new Exchange platform. You will need to redirect internal processes to Exchange and route all Internet mail to Exchange.

Step 6: Completing Post-Migration Tasks
After users and mailboxes have been migrated to Exchange 2016, there remain a few tasks that need to be completed to finalize your migration project. During the week following the migration, monitor your Exchange system and run through validation procedures to make sure that everything, including mail flow, appointment and task scheduling, etc., is working properly for all accounts. As well, ensure that your organization remains compliant by setting up the appropriate archiving jobs against your Exchange 2016 system. Take the time to test and validate that your archiving solution is implementing your archiving policies correctly.


Topics: Office 365, email migrations, Netmail, Cloud, Exchange 2016, Migrations, Migration Checklist, Email Migration Checklist


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