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SkyKick Automates Public Folder Migrations to Office 365

Migration project automation startup SkyKick on Tuesday released an update of the SkyKick Automation Suite to bring support for Microsoft Exchange Public Folder migrations into Office 365 and deliver a more robust dashboard for partners.

Earlier this year, Microsoft expanded Office 365 to support migration of Exchange Public Folders into its cloud productivity suite. 

Although SkyKick launched its migration automation tool slightly after Microsoft added Public Folder support, SkyKick's initial version went through a two-year beta testing process and focused on the core elements of an Office 365 migration that a partner needed -- from selling, to planning, to provisioning, to migrating, to managing, to setting up users. In all, one early-adopter partner told RCP in April that the Seattle-based startup's solution cut the Office 365 migration process from about 40 hours of work and interaction with the customer down to two or three hours spread over a week or two.

With the initial version out for half a year and used by hundreds of partners and thousands of customers, SkyKick was ready to start adding some new features, said Todd Schwartz, co-CEO of SkyKick. Public Folders were an obvious Office 365 pain point for partners.

"It's so messy and tedious, a lot of MSPs wouldn't even offer public folder migrations to their customers," Schwartz said. "An MSP would have to go in manually, go through hundreds of folders, and, per public folder, it could take as much as four hours. We've now automated public folder migration within the SkyKick Application Suite."

The automation works much like the initial suite's automated discovery of e-mail addresses. Using SkyKick, a partner selling the migration to a customer only needs that employee's e-mail and password to begin the process of discovering all the e-mail addresses on the server and to kick off the migration process. The e-mail/password combo does not need to be an administrator credential.

The latest version of the suite now does the same with Public Folders. "If they're on an Exchange Server, we will discover their Public Folders," Schwartz said

Arterian, a managed services provider in the Seattle area, has been using SkyKick for six months and helped test the Public Folder migration automation, said Jamison West, CEO and founder of the Seattle-based MSP.

West confirmed that Public Folder migrations have been a burden, and that about half of customers Arterian has migrated from on-premises Exchange to Office 365 need to bring Public Folders with them.

"There was really no way to see what the permissions were. We'd go manually to public properties, pull up the permissions and export the public folders. It was just a purely manual, look at what the settings are, export and do the settings again. It was very labor-intensive," West said.

With the new capability, Public Folder migrations "go as smoothly as the end user migrations," said West, adding that the availability of the tool was critical in a recent migration project that involved a lot of important Public Folders. "We would have lost it, or had to charge more. It saved a significant project for us."

The other major enhancement in SkyKick's update is the Project Management Application (PMA), which is part of a redesigned partner portal. The PMA gives partners real-time alerts about the status of migrations, automates some previously manual tasks and allows partners to manage parts of the migration project.

One critical new feature of the PMA is the ability for partners to modify a migration order, such as adding, removing or changing forwarding settings on mailboxes, once the migration has been scheduled but as late as four hours before the migration start time, SkyKick executives said.

Posted by Scott Bekker on November 19, 2013 at 10:41 AM