Migrating to Office 365

Are you considering migrating your email, file storage, or office software license to Office 365? This useful guide will help your small business understand the benefits of Office 365 and Exchange Online.

Migrating workloads to the cloud is a hot topic in boardrooms, especially when it comes to the future of corporate messaging. There are numerous benefits to moving to Office 365, such as freeing up internal resources, reducing corporate liability and cutting overhead costs. But how easy is it to do, and is it something you can do yourself?

To help you make an informed decision and create an office 365 migration plan, have a read of our tips and advice:

What is Microsoft Office 365 for Business?

Office 365 is a suite of software services and apps such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Created to help businesses grow and adapt their business, Office 365 products are updated monthly with the latest features and security enhancements. In addition to Office applications, Microsoft Office 365 provides access to web conferencing, hosted email, and online cloud storage facilities.

Increasingly, businesses are considering switching to Office 365 as their servers are no longer supported and in situations where the current infrastructure setup is no longer providing the support the business needs in today’s modern workplace.

Reasons to choose Office 365

Small businesses demand IT solutions that are both practical and cost-effective. When it comes to office and email software, it is vital your team has access to reliable tools that do not cause unnecessary strain on your growing business.

For businesses that have used on-premises email services, it could now be time to start looking at other options for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Hardware Maintenance Costs – The demand of on-premises email servers means your business is completely responsible for the upkeep, maintenance, and troubleshooting costs of your server.
  • Licensing costs – With Hosted Exchange services costs on the more expensive side, a cloud-based service, such as Office 365, is much more cost effective.

In disaster situations, businesses using an in-house server could potentially lose all their data without the appropriate data backup systems in place. This problem is something small business owners in particular need to worry less about, and cloud-based systems offer this type of data-security.

If a business’s server breaks, the license can’t be moved. This means businesses using on-premises hosting face costly mistakes and risk losing the contents of their servers.

Why do Businesses use Office 365?

Office 365 gives businesses access to award-winning Office software products, with easy-to-manage user licensing, and complete scalability to adapt to the demands of a growing business. In addition, smaller businesses are making the move to cloud-based systems to move away from expensive on-premises server costs and to allow their staff the freedom of flexible homeworking opportunities. 

With the reassurance of customer support and easy-to-use interfaces, businesses can migrate to Office 365 with less hassle and disruption to day-to-day business functions. 

Does Office 365 replace Exchange?

The Microsoft Exchange Server is a mail system developed by Microsoft where user emails are stored and accessed by email clients, such as Microsoft Outlook. 

Businesses that run Exchange 2003, 2007, and 2010 will need to upgrade their Exchange environments again over the coming years. But could this be the last upgrade they ever need to do? 

One of the benefits of Office 365 over on-premises software is Microsoft’s commitment to regularly updating the platform with all the latest features and capabilities, including Exchange Online. If businesses migrate to Exchange Online, Microsoft will handle all future upgrades to the platform. As a result, this is the last upgrade IT teams need to perform for their corporate messaging. 

Benefits of migrating to Office 365 and the cloud

Cloud computing and subscription-based software are more popular than ever before, but some businesses are reluctant to migrate to the cloud. This usually tends to be because of worries over weaker security in cloud computing versus on-premises software (the opposite is actually true), and concerns over lower performance and uptime.

These perceived pitfalls mean IT teams are unwilling to make changes. But the benefits of migrating to the cloud are undeniable. Here are just five of them for you to consider.

1. Upgrade once

If you are moving to office 365 and the cloud, it could be the last migration you ever make. There are free, rolling updates on all Office 365 applications including SharePoint, OneDrive for Business and PowerBI. So, you don’t have to waste time looking for the latest features, they’re updated automatically for you.

2. No servers to maintain

Although Office 365 is located in the cloud, the platform’s flexibility means you can still integrate your server-side applications if you don’t want to leave all your on-premises software behind. Looking for UK or EU storage, Microsoft Office 365 offers a choice of data storage locations inside their secure data centres and you can also relax knowing the Office 365 Trust Centre keeps your cloud-based data completely safe.

3. Affordable and simple to use

Thanks to the numerous business plans available, Office 365 comes in many shapes and forms. Each of these plans has a monthly subscription fee, but they’re all reasonably priced, so you will find one that perfectly suits your business needs. Whatever subscription plan you go for, Office 365 offers a familiar interface – especially if you have used any Microsoft office package such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook – so your team are sure to pick it up quickly.

4. Collaborate with ease

Office 365 links you to your colleagues to make your business more collaborative than ever before. The platform offers online versions of the full Microsoft Office package, so colleagues can edit documents and add comments in real time – they don’t even need to download it. If you prefer the desktop applications for the Office suite for Windows, you can do that too. OneDrive for Business means you can synch all your documents – making collaboration really easy.

5. The growth of SharePoint Online

Launched in 2001, SharePoint allows document management, storage, and collaboration between users. Employees can create sites to share documents and information with other colleagues or costumers.

The latest figures from the SharePoint Virtual Summit state that over 250,000 organisations, and more than 85% of Fortune 500 companies, use SharePoint as part of Office 365. What’s more, over 10 million new SharePoint sites were created over the last 12 months. So, it is evident that SharePoint Online is a key reason for organisations moving to the cloud. Will you be next?

SharePoint is available with Office 365 subscriptions.

Tips for migrating from G Suite

If you’re thinking of migrating between Google’s G Suite and Microsoft’s Office 365, let’s start with these two main questions. Your answers will help you decide the type and scope of your migration. What’s more, having these answers down before the migration will help you avoid problems in the future.

Are you migrating email, or everything?

The majority of migrations to Office 365 are all about Microsoft Outlook. Some businesses can’t live without this famous desktop email application. As a result, lots of G Suite to Office 365 migrations are just Gmail to Outlook and Exchange online migrations. This is particularly true in mixed-vendor environments. For example, when OpenOffice replaces Google Docs, or Box or Dropbox replaces Google Drive.

So, are you moving everything to Office 365, or just your email platform? If you’re moving everything, is it all from Google Apps, or do you need to migrate data from other platforms? It’s important to do a full assessment, as there are numerous locations, departments and even individuals who use different software that IT teams may be unaware of. Make sure you know the answers to those questions before you begin your migration, otherwise, you could end up leaving data behind – and you definitely don’t want that.

Are you going to do it yourself? Or look for partner migration?

There are numerous third-party services and consultancies that focus on migrating to Office 365. If your company works with a Managed Service Provider, they may offer to manage the migration for you. If you decide to work with a third party, make sure you take time to consider it properly. If you bring in a consultant halfway through the migration, it will be more complicated and expensive.

If you’re managing the migration yourself, yes you can save some money, but it’s not an easy task. Many businesses prefer to bring in a third party to manage it for them – making the whole process simple and straightforward.

Why choose Ashdown Solutions?

With over 40 years’ experience in IT, we provide small and medium sized businesses with reliable managed IT solutions designed to accelerate their growth. We are experts in migrating to Office 365 and can help you migrate mailbox data with ease. We can also assist with an office 365 migration plan if that’s all you need.

A trusted partner

We are committed to training our team so we can ensure we get the best results for our clients when deploying Office 365 solutions. We have achieved certified Microsoft Silver Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions partner status.

We have built close working relationships with businesses across Sussex, Surrey and Kent who trust us to manage their business IT and technology solutions, including migrating to Office 365. Our clients enjoy working with us because we take time to understand what they need. Then we build a suitable solution that fits their budget, and deliver it fast with minimum disruption to their business.

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