Scenario: E-mail migration
In many carve-outs, an e-mail migration must be carried out as part of the separation from the parent company. The data such as e-mails, calendar entries, contacts, notes, etc. are transferred from the e-mail system on seller side to the e-mail system of the carve-out object. For migration to the Microsoft 365 Cloud, different scenarios are considered here.
In many cases, Microsoft 365 is used in different forms on seller side. To separate the data, it must be moved from the tenant of the issuing unit to a new tenant within the Microsoft Cloud. Because Microsoft did not initially provide its own tools for data migration, it was necessary to resort to third-party tools. For example: Power365 from BinaryTree or MigrationWiz from BitTitan, which have already been successfully used in carve-out projects of digatus. These tools require licenses per user. In addition, there are also costs for an extended scope of services such as OneDrive or SharePoint migrations.
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s fast track specialists are also helping to migrate the data. However, this support is only available from a minimum order quantity of 500 licenses. With the support of the migration tools, it is possible to migrate the date as far as possible in the background, since the synchronization of the data can be started already a few weeks before the actual cut over date. Shortly before the changeover date, the last data is synchronized and access to the new mailbox is activated. In our experience, it makes sense to carry out the final data migration during weekends or in the evening. The big advantage of a tenant-to-tenant migration is that the data already exists in the Microsoft Cloud and no longer needs to be transferred from a local server to the cloud via Internet connection. The user impact is very small in this scenario.
Local Exchange Server – Exchange Online
Local Exchange servers with different versions are still widely used. There, the transition to Microsoft’s cloud e-mail service (Exchange online) is a bit more complex. As the mailbox data is located locally in one or more data centers, it must first be uploaded to the cloud over an Internet connection. Depending on the size of the mailboxes to be migrated, there may be bandwidth bottlenecks in data transfer. This either leads to the migration of mailboxes in several phases or, at first step, to empty user mailboxes and data which has to be transferred gradually.
Non-Microsoft (e.g. GSuite, Notes)
There are special requirements when migrating e-mail systems from other manufacturers such as GSuite from Google or Notes from HCL. In this case, we work with specialized companies, as additional services such as workflows may have to be migrated here. Another option is to provide users with empty mailboxes. In this case, the data from the legacy systems would either have to be archived and made accessible to the users or migrated by the user himself.Microsoft 365 solutions in the context of carve-out scenarios
If OneDrive is used as part of the Microsoft 365 Suite, the data must also be migrated here. There are several options for migrating the data: with larger user numbers, the use of third-party tools (see e-mail migration) makes sense. With 50 users and less, it makes sense in some cases to have the migration of the data carried out by the user himself. Here it has proven itself to provide appropriate instructions and to implement a suitable support structure e.g., a special hotline number for migration support.
Scenario: Microsoft Teams
In the meantime, Microsoft Teams is becoming more and more common in companies. Teams is a digital hub that combines sharing, content, assigned tasks, and apps in one place and is already integrated with the Microsoft 365 Suite. With the increasing spread of the application, solutions must also be developed for carve-out scenarios in order to separate the data of the target and finally migrate it. It is important to know that e.g., chat data cannot be migrated. However, it is possible to migrate individual teams and their associated data. But, since it is time consuming and complicated, and therefore expensive, to separate the data between seller and target, it usually makes sense in carve-out projects to not migrate this data centrally but to start with a new, empty setup.
Using Teams for telephony adds an additional layer of complexity for migration projects. Basically, there is the possibility to connect teams to a PBX or to use the Cloud PBX functionality of Microsoft.
If Teams is connected to a telephone system, further dependencies arise (e.g. porting of phone numbers, contact center solutions, call forwarding, calling groups, etc.), which significantly increase complexity. Therefore, it makes sense to consider the telephony migration as a subproject separately and, if possible, to postpone it to a later date.
If the Microsoft Cloud PBX functionality is already in use, it must be clarified with the seller whether the phone numbers can be taken over or whether it is necessary to assign new numbers. In some cases, it makes sense to start directly with new phone numbers, which also greatly simplifies the cut over process.
Scenario: SharePoint, Yammer, Planner, OneNote, PowerBI etc.
As part of the Microsoft 365 Suite, a variety of other services are offered, such as SharePoint, Yammer, Planner, OneNote, PowerBI, etc. They all need their own strategies and approaches and must be considered individually. A more in-depth consideration would go beyond the scope of this article.
It is not uncommon for the target company to be renamed as part of a carve-out project, as the separation from the parent company creates a new company that appears on the market with its own identity. As part of our IT carve-out projects, we supported the Gemini Rail Group and GRANOVIT SA in this process. An elementary part of a so-called rebranding is the change of e-mail addresses. This activity is easy to associate with the migration of the e-mail system. Again, there are several different cases, which mainly depend on the agreement made with the parent company to use the old e-mail addresses. For example, it is possible that:
- a forwarding from the old to the new e-mail address is set up.
- a so-called autoresponder is activated that automatically responds to incoming messages with a predefined text.
- or the old e-mail address will continue to be used in the new e-mail system.
The challenges described below apply to all scenarios together. First and foremost, the quality of the data provided. Successful migration is not possible without a reasonable database. It is important to identify the users and their associated accounts and clearly assign them to the target. This is the only way to migrate the correct data. The amount of data is also important as already mentioned. In case of a cloud migration, data is always transferred via an Internet line. This must be dimensioned in size to transfer the amount of data in the shortest possible time. It is not uncommon for data to be in the range of several terabytes. An additional challenge is the support provided by the seller. This is absolutely necessary in order to provide the data on the one hand and to make changes to the existing configuration on the other hand, e.g., adaptation of the e-mail routing, deletion of the old e-mail addresses, setup of forwardings, etc. Ideally, support services are defined in a TSA that is closed between the seller and the buyer.
When companies are separated from the complex corporate structures and their IT environment during a carve-out they often become significantly smaller and, above all, more dynamic. Using Microsoft 365 can help them act flexibly and quickly, providing both the stability and security they need, and can be easily scaled when needed. This adaptability to business developments makes Microsoft 365 a good solution for carve-outs.