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Five reasons Exchange shops delay Office 365 migrations

Microsoft claims the majority of its Exchange customers are considering Office 365. But IT pros have reservations about whether it's the right move.

Microsoft claims that 80% of Exchange customers are thinking about moving to Office 365. Many IT pros nevertheless...

are uncomfortable with the idea of moving from the on-premises Exchange to a cloud-hosted email service.

The reasons for hesitating aren't the same for every company, but experts and analysts agree that five stand out.

1. Where is that first big customer win?

Microsoft has released the names of numerous companies that have migrated to Office 365, but many organizations await a household name.

"Everyone is waiting for the first big enterprise customer to sign on. Office 365 needs a big customer to go there," said Wes Miller, analyst at Directions on Microsoft, an independent analysis firm based in Kirkland, Wash. "When that first company moves, people will realize they're not really losing anything [by moving to the cloud]."

The financial and medical industries will be among the last to adopt cloud services, mostly because of the high volume of sensitive information they handle, such as Social Security and credit card numbers, according to Rob Sanfilippo, also an analyst with Directions on Microsoft. In addition, many financial and medical organizations are massive, and will require a good deal of capital and valuable staff resources to perform such a migration effectively.

2. Office 365 costs $6 per user, per month, but the man-hours necessary for the migration cost more.

Office 365 migrations don't happen overnight, and the migration period doesn't come free of charge. An average Office 365 migration for a 500-user company takes 90 days; anything larger can take 14 to 21 weeks, said Kevin Allison, Microsoft's general manager for Exchange Server and Office 365, during the The Expert Conference 2012 conference in San Diego in May.

Customers also must pay Microsoft or another vendor to help complete an Office 365 migration. In addition, business productivity and dollars could be lost during the migration period. These costs make many Exchange shops reluctant to migrate.

3. Many Exchange admins still fear they'll lose their jobs.

Microsoft says they're targeting everyone, but there are plenty of different types of deployments that they can't support.
Rob Sanfilippoanalyst, Directions on Microsoft

Microsoft has made it clear that a move to Office 365 will not cost Exchange administrators their jobs, but IT pros remain skeptical. Customers that see the cloud service as a threat aren't exactly running to sell management on Office 365.

"There's a lot of fear and uncertainty in the cloud. Many people fear it because they don't understand it," said Mike Crowley, an enterprise infrastructure architect and Exchange MVP at Baltimore-based Planet Technologies Inc.

Exchange admins who are willing to evolve will still have plenty to do, however. Admins still have to manage Office 365 and communicate with Microsoft support, for example.

4. You can't customize Office 365.

Exchange Server allows for customizations and gives IT shops the option to add various third-party products to accomplish tasks like reporting, monitoring and archiving. "Lots of companies do Exchange customizations," Sanfilippo said. "[Microsoft] says they're targeting everyone, but there are plenty of different types of deployments that they can't support."

Companies also can't use such older clients as Outlook 2003 with Office 365, a major drawback for many organizations. Many Exchange shops rely on -- and are used to -- many of these older tools and features. If a company doesn't feel comfortable moving forward without its tried-and-true email-archiving or usage-reporting tool, it's not going to rush to adopt Office 365.

5. Many companies still don't trust the cloud.

The trust factor is a legitimate concern for many companies contemplating Office 365. Microsoft is a multi-tenant company, and it has other tenants to worry about. Companies therefore worry that their business won't take priority. There also have been complaints about Microsoft's level of support; that makes the trust issue even more of a concern.

"If you've got a question or configuration problem, you don't have a lot of help," Crowley said. "Ultimately, you're responsible for email, and having that solid support structure is critical. If you're not comfortable giving up your data, you're probably not going to consider Office 365."

Next Steps

Assessing Office 365's Lync Online

How to change Office 365 user passwords via PowerShell

Faceoff: Office 365 vs. Google Apps -- the tale of two nonprofits

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Will your firm migrate to Office 365?
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Still need to be convinced.
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Not yet and maybe never.
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365 here to stay!
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Already migrated to Google Apps.
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Over time, but not immediately…
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No. First we cannot trust the cloud with all our client’s data at the stakes. And second we have too many mobile employees who have to be able to work with no network connection available.
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Have already migrated to Office 365 and we Love it..
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Not in the next two years, maybe after that, next refresh of Exchange hardware.
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I want to see ow it works for other local government users first.
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I see no benefit
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My firm has already migrated.
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With the fantastic price point, the bundled features like IM, Virtual Meeting, and Presence, and no more painful upgrdes to the next version of Exchange, it really is a no brainer. The ROI will be quite short for this migration. Office 365 is also accredited at a Moderate FISMA level, so that helps a lot with the Government.
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we are migrating this month.
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why would we? if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. not always my motto, but for this issue, it is. we just upgraded to exchange 2010 with Outlook 2010 clients and all is good in the world. Why would i worry about ‘the cloud’
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not sure how secure it will be.
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No, we bought Exchange infrastructure just a year before Office 365 started.
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We would like to migrate our on-premise exchange to cloud
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It’s not suitable for our customised environment; we don’t think the cloud is the answer.
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Support concerns.
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We are a small shop with our own Exchange 2010 Server. No need to migrate.
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We looked into it and the migration was estimated to take 500 days. They told us to go away.
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Our firm has sensitive customer information hence at this point in time cant decide on migrating to O365
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Google Docs is a better deal for the money.
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security of data imperative, have 4 Exchange 2010 servers
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Don’t love it but you can’t stop the tide.
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Don’t believe it’s ready yet, & I remain to be convinced regarding security
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Yes, the future is in the cloud. And Office 365 comes with a promise.
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I think we are too small and the license model does not have any benefit for us, we lose on our VLSC agreement.
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No, too much downtime issue
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Need more time to understand how this will benifit
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Until MS stops changing the name, pricing and bundles, we won’t recommend it. How can we! Would make me look like a fool to the client.
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We are a hosted exchange reseller
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A firm with only 6 users and SBS 2003 no brainer to move to Office 365. SBS 2003 has been very good with very little problems. Here's hoping the Office 365 will be as trouble free as our SBS 2003.
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Head of IT is pushing for Office 365 (Exchange). I as an Exchnage Admin disagree with move to Office 365. I believe Office 365 has more downtime than Exchange on premises. Management will not know this until they migrate to Office 365.
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Just finished our migration with 350 user accounts. Wasn't simple or pain free but we got it done and going forward, we are free from worrying about the hardware and software issues and we are more scalable.
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As an independent IT support contractor, assuming an IT Manager role for a number of small companies, I have serious reservations about committing such a significant part of my clients' core operation to a third party. Microsoft support doesn't work well for small enterprises and I don't believe that they are equipped provide an adequate level of individual support. There is also the issue of bandwidth. Many of my clients are in rural areas, where a 5Mb/s Internet connection can only be aspired to. I'm advising my clients against taking this route, at least until they have >20Mb/s bandwidth availability.
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We're starting our migration now. In fact my mailbox is in the cloud as we speak, including voicemail via Unified Messaging in the O365 cloud.

We hired a 3rd party company to come in and help us configure AD federation/SSO and with the Session Border Controllers that enable voicemail federation to the cloud.

Everything is working terrific right now, but we do want to make some future improvements on redundancy on the AD FS proxies and the Session Border Controllers. It looks like we may get some hardware load balancers to go along with the setup, if we can find the capital budget for it.

But anyway, we are very happy with the service so far.

Now getting the licensing straightened out, that was another story. We were required to go through a reseller to purchase our licenses and that was a nightmare. Would rather have dealt with Microsoft directly.
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I also responded below about just starting our migration. I read the other comments and found them interesting.

We have a 32Mbit symmetrical Internet pipe for 330 users and can go higher as we trunk the Internet traffic over metro Ethernet to our provider. It only takes a phone call to up our bandwidth. So we felt that was sufficient to support Office365.

Then there is the matter of cost. We are part of a larger organization that has been required to consolidate all our servers to an organization-wide datacenter. Then our department gets billed back for server services via a "chargeback" process. It's expensive, really expensive, to run the servers that way. On top of that, the service provider we have sourced to does not do a good job of running our Exchange environment, there has been several major outages.

Now, enter Office365, which we can get on contract pricing, it's way, way cheaper, by an order of magnitude. Close to a 90% reduction to the cost of running the servers at our capacity levels, we have many users with 5-10GB mailboxes. Office365 is a no brainer for us from a cost standpoint and it was a major consideration.

Also, we have always, always, always pushed back HARD any time that anyone wanted to do any sort of add-ons to Exchange that require third-party software add-ons. The result is that our Exchange is clean, no add-ins, so that makes it a lot easier for us to migrate. There are some Outlook add-ins that a few people have but those seem to be ok with the backend being on O365.

All in all, Office365 is a big, big, big win for us.
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I don't believe Microsoft takes uptime as seriously as they need to.
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Moved to Office 365 last month, so far it has been a good move, only time will tell.
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To removed from company control and not dedicated support to small and mid size operations in the worship Microsoft Idol.
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Is a good project...
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No migration
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I've migrated 4 companies to Office 365 very successfully.
Tips:
1. Do your prep: get all DNS & hosting info early on.
2. Create a CSV of users to import.
3. Run EXMERGE to export user mailboxes to PST
4. Use group policy to roll out new configuration
4. Import *.pst into user mailbox when connected to Office 365.

So Easy!
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As an IT admin I like to have complete control of my infrastructure. I do not like the idea of relying on a third party with my critical company data. The buck stops with me and that is how I prefer it to be.
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Public folders are heavily used in my company workflow and without a way to duplicate the most Exchange public folder capability - NOT JUST SOME OF THE FEATURES - in the cloud, any migration is on hold.
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Do not want to be "bleeding edge" adopters - would rather wait for the product to mature and see more feedback on advantages / disadvantages
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The first and most elementary step in securing your data is to have it under your physical control. Once you move it to the "cloud" you have lost that. This will always be a major issue for organizations sensitive about security.
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the support is woeful and will never match the local reseller focus to help their customers
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its rubbish
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We have migrated to Office 365. Now, after two years of BPOS/Office 365, we're migrating back to an on-premise Exchange Server. Office 365 is not flexible enough for our environment.
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I'm an Exchange Administrator. Any monkey can be a cloud administrator
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A simple solution for simple firms. More complex firms will feel the burn until it matures. If you have a single domain, with only on GAL and limited shared contacts and don't want to replace a file server every few years, and you always wanted all the neat office apps without the headache of implementing, Office 365 is your answer.
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Go Cloud. I would recommend
Fujitsu MaaS (Messaging As A Service).
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the cloud is unsafe for your documents.
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Office 365 means we are exposing our sensitive data on cloud. Microsoft may guarantee 99.99 % but we worried about the 0.001% which can screwed up everything....
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There are already cases of industrial espionage from data stored in the cloud. Where is that data actually stored? Cheapest bidder in a lov price country with poor law protection. Just a new way to make money. Apart from that especially Outlook and word/excel is now often woven in together with other inhouse made apps, it will cost to much to move.
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Our company (50 employees) is located far from city. Still we have 2x2Mbps Frame Relay (awaiting for fiber link) and link down occures sometimes. Office 365 means high internet link usage, lag in internal mail with large attachments, no internal mail at all when internet link is down.
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Our law firm migrated to 365 3 months ago, still have email issues, company contact list would /will not function for all users and still can't access MySite in SharePoint. Dell preformed migration and then took no ownership of countless conversion mistakes, basically we paid Dell a lot of money for the pleasure of screwing us and then were told to piss off. Thanks to everyone at Dell!
Microsoft support has/is fixing all issues, I am the most surprised how responsive and helpful Microsoft has been, they have really gone the extra mile for our firm.
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We would possible use hosted Exchange, but 365 won't have the feature set we need.
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Don't all these reasons apply to Google Apps for Business and Lotus Live?
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We are in the middle of prototyping the installation and testing. It has not gone smooth and multiple problems with hybrid configuration and OWA compatibility issues with Federation server
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Expect Micrsoft to offer support and guarantee integrity of data?? You must be joking.
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I see it as an ideal solution for those that want exchange features, but dont merit an on premise box -- ie very small shops with a handful of mailboxes (under 10); also those that really have exchange (or would) just for the sync, calendar and contact features.
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Migrated on place with 25 employees from hosted pop3/imap to Exchange Online Plan 2 and it's miles better with their installed Outlook 2007 base. Still, there are some default settings for the mailbox many will need to change immediately, but only in powershell. The other company I work with has 35 employees on a creaky Exchange 2003 setup and Exchange Online is probably the best value right now, though any upgrade will mean updating old Outlook 2003 clients.

So far, support from Office 365 has been less than spectacular, mainly with increasing the days you have to recover deleted emails from deleted-items. An easy fix in on site exchange servers.
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We just completed a world-wide Exchange 2010 roll-out. Cloud based solutions don't give our company which does a lot of M/A and divestiture activity the flexibility we need to adapt to an ever changing company structure.
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We are actually migrating FROM O365 after three years of frustration with BPOS and O365. The service is not reliable and the tech support is horrible. Going to O365 was the worst business decision we ever made.
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We migrated our small IT consultancy to Office 365 a couple of months ago. Excellent choice, excellent value and now have many clients considering it (migrated some already).
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Starting to look like an Exchange Server does not include the Office 2013 desktop apps Small Business Premium is listed at $150 per user per year Small Business Premium is listed at $150 per user per year some IP ranges in Office 365 are internal doesn't route the requests via the proxy server.
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Internet service goes down, then you can’t access any of its features Home Internet connections with slower bandwidth may not have access to higher-productivity features having data stored off premise Microsoft offers a licensing option for on-site storage documents can be shared across the company
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