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E-Mail Migration Opportunities Evolve for Microsoft Partners

As the floodgates open and massive amounts of data move to Office 365, the nature of e-mail migrations has changed forever. Instead of being the primary force of migration projects, e-mail has become just a small piece of the migration opportunity. The cloud, and specifically Office 365, is driving a fundamental shift from data-centric to user-centric migrations.  

Historically, e-mail archive projects involved migrating one on-premises legacy archive to a more efficient, space-saving archive solution. In the early 2000s, growth of archiving took off as compliance requirements meant that more data had to be retained along with the e-mail. The high cost of storage created a strong market for efficient archiving. 

"The market for on-premises legacy migrations was huge," explained Dan Clark, chief strategy officer at QUADROtech. "There were hundreds of projects going on every year, each migrating well in excess of 8TB of e-mail, which means hundreds of millions of e-mails."

When Office 365 was introduced, after being proven out through BPOS, many businesses realized that they didn't need to use an enterprise archive anymore. Office 365 delivered the same benefits and more than on-premises archiving -- inexpensive storage and compliance at a level that could support e-discovery, plus the elimination of expensive-to-support hardware.

QUADROtech, a gold application development Microsoft partner, provides migration tools to the Microsoft partner channel that have supported that dramatic shift to the cloud. "We've seen a huge exodus of data moving to Office 365 as an archiving solution," Clark said. "Customers are pushing hundreds of terabytes to Office 365."

At the same time, Office 365 has allowed customers to take a more strategic approach to migrations. While they are centralizing data, businesses want to take the opportunity to improve the accessibility of data and the corresponding productivity of workers.   

As companies migrate to Office 365, they no longer view e-mail as the focus of migration. They want to migrate the user experience along with all the data that they need. With data that supports workers' daily tasks spread out in multiple places, from SharePoint to Shared Files to CRM, customers want a user-centric migration.

Clark sees this as a fundamental shift for partners. "Instead of just migrating buckets of data, now it's about moving the functions and processes that go with it," explained Clark. "To make the switch to a user-focused migration process, partners need to understand the dependencies between the systems and how users work. You're migrating more than one system, so you need to understand how the users interact with each one."

With the opportunity to refresh processes, customers also often express a desire to improve their data structure. The customer doesn't simply want an exact copy of their data moved, they want to restructure to support more efficient processes. To achieve that end, Clark recommends that partners use a tool that allows the data to be restructured as it goes through the migration.

To successfully support these new customer expectations, Clark believes that those partners who focus on active upfront engagement through project pilots and trial migrations are the most successful. "Through trials, the partner gets a better understanding of how the customer wants the data to be structured in the Office 365 environment. The customer can see if what they think they want is really what they want before a full migration," Clark said.

One of the barriers to Office 365 migrations for enterprise organizations has been the concern of data moving through potentially unsecure cloud-based tools during the migration process. "QUADROtech has addressed this concern by designing our migration tool as an 'exclusive' controller," explained Clark. "It controls the migration, but no data goes through our platform. It all goes directly to Office 365."

In today's market, QUADROtech sees well over 60 percent of migrations moving data to Office 365. "There doesn't seem to be a slow-down; if anything, it's going faster," Clark said. "In addition, there is the opportunity for partners to go back to customers to migrate data to Dynamics and other applications in the cloud."

The nature of e-mail migrations has changed and so has the opportunity for partners. Businesses want users to be at the center of the Office 365 experience, merging data with business processes to make work easier and more productive. Partners can play a key role helping customers design user-centric experiences, so that the Office 365 migration is just the beginning of the conversation.

How are you building relationships through migrations? Add a comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on September 30, 2015 at 1:46 PM


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