The road to the cloud is paved with good intentions, but fraught with unforeseen IT headaches. Are you migrating your clients from on-premise Exchange servers to Microsoft Office 365? In the following blog post, we'll explain why the benefits of migration outweigh the costs, examine common pain points MSPs run into during the extensive process, and present a cost-effective solution for scalably addressing this market need without stretching yourself too thin.
Benefits of Office 365 Migrations
Why should you even consider offering clients Office 365 migrations? What's in it for you and your clients?
Saves Time and Costs
Having clients' email hosted in the cloud rather than physical Exchange Servers makes an MSP's job a whole lot easier, especially if you're a smaller shop. Migrating from on-premise saves that precious resource called time. Because Office 365 continually updates, MSPs and clients' IT departments don't have to spend time upgrading and patching. How much of your time is spent maintaining clients' servers? Leave a comment below!
One of the main advantages of moving to cloud platforms like Microsoft's Office 365 is that you don't have to pay for the costly upkeep of hardware. Servers don't have lifetime guarantees and when clients don't migrate from servers that receive end of support, they become susceptible to a whole host of security vulnerabilities. As we explain in our blog post, Windows Server 2003 Becomes Extinct on July 14th, there are extra costs associated with maintaining outdated hardware. Additionally, as you continue growing and onboarding new clients, you'll need to purchase more storage. Physical servers are expensive infrastructure, not only the upfront cost for each, but the cost to power them. Then, consider the likelihood that purchasing more servers may be a waste of your IT resources. A new study by Anthesis Group, a global sustainability consultancy, and Stanford researcher Jonathan Koomey finds that up to 30% of servers are unused but consuming electricity.
Proactive Rather than Reactive
Lastly, you're in the business of maintaining uptime for your clients. If they're dependent on hardware for data storage and something goes awry, they'll have to wait for a technician to visit them onsite and replace the server. This break-fix model is reactive and makes it harder for you to scale your business because you can't predict when hardware will malfunction and how many client demands you'll have to manage at once. If clients don't receive direct, immediate support, this reflects poorly on your MSP business. You could lose them as references or lose their business all-together if they suffer revenue-draining downtime.
Your clients shouldn't have to worry that their servers will be functional when they come back from the weekend or come in to the work the next day. Unfortunately, hardware is unreliable. It's going to fail or become outdated eventually. Your clients turn to you for guidance on a sustainable, long term IT solution. It's your responsibility to safeguard their data by migrating your clients to Office 365 and other cloud-based email solutions.
Obstacles along the Path to the Cloud
Still, you may recognize the need to package Office 365 migrations into your overall service offering, but dread having to deal with some of the following pain points.
Lack of clarity and communication from users
We asked your peers on Spiceworks and Reddit what their biggest migration migraines were and the consensus was unsurprisingly having to coordinate with end users who do not understand what information is crucial to communicate.
One Reddit participant, Arkios, claimed that his/her biggest pain point was the initial fact finding, "since clients never provide correct information." Three questions he/she recommends nailing down are:
Slow Mailbox Migration and/or Network Connection
In Doing an Office 365 Migration the Right Way, Network World identifies slow mailbox migration as a common problem for MSPs undergoing these projects. According to the article, "odd configurations of firewalls and proxies, security settings, and migration server problems" are often to blame. This is the kind of information you'll want your clients to provide during the planning stage of the migration process. That is unless you think only moving a few mailboxes rather than a few hundred mailboxes in a single night is optimal.
How much email are you migrating? Is email history included in the migration plan? Clients may be tempted to move all of their archived mail to the cloud since it offers almost limitless storage, but as Reddit user briangig remarks, "uploading large archives is painfully slow."
Inconsistent Performance in Test Runs
Well, what if you just work out these kinks in a test lab to avoid creating a negative user experience? Many MSPs do this and are surprised when successful trial-runs don't result in successful migrations. Network World finds:
"a lab internet connection many times has less traffic on it than the production Internet connection; or test mailboxes have no mail corruption whereas real mailboxes may have embedded corruption within the old Exchange database; or lab servers don't have layers and layers of security policies and proxies applied to them that the real managed servers in production have on them."
This is yet another reason why you have to verify each client's system requirements prior to migration and even then, they may not know to tell you whether they're using old operating systems or if their Exchange integrates with some random third party plug-in, for instance.
What are some other problems you've run into? Tell us below!
Why Not Have Someone Else Migrate for You?
These are just a few of the issues that arise when conducting an Office 365 migration, but wouldn't you prefer to not have to deal with any of these roadblocks? You recognize the business value of offering migrations as a service, but don't want to exhaust your MSP business's valuable time, talent and resources. Perhaps, the greatest challenge is lack of bandwidth and diminished employee engagement in completing these mundane IT tasks.Why not assign them to someone else? Watch the video below to learn more!
Downtime associated with on-premise Exchange servers
can interfere with your Service Level Agreements...
By Gretchen Hoffman
By Meaghan Moraes
By Gretchen Hoffman