April 10, 2023
Migration guide from Google Workspce to Microsoft 365 for business
Since many organizations are migrating from G Suite to Microsoft 365, you may be wondering if Microsoft 365 is better than G Suite? How do you migrate to Microsoft 365? We will walk you through the framework of migrating to M365 and share useful tips to help you plan and execute your migration.
Office 365 (now renamed Microsoft 365)
G Suite (now renamed Google Workpace)
Although the decision to migrate is often made in the upper echelons of an organization, it is a daunting task for any IT team to tackle. Our team at ALTA-ICT has helped many organizations successfully transition from G Suite to Microsoft 365 through our thorough process described in this blog.
Benefits of migrating to Microsoft 365
Do you want to migrate G Suite to Microsoft 365? Both G Suite and Microsoft 365 are cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms and offer different features and functionalities. A few reasons why organizations are switching from G Suite to M365 is the ease of scalability, security, reliability and efficiency. Some of the benefits of M365 are:
- Ease of use
- Microsoft 365 collaboration
- Adjusted prices
- cloud storage
- Offline file access capabilities
- Office 365 applications
- Advanced security and threat protection – Office 365 has many certifications such as (FISMA, SSAE16, HIPAA, SOC1 Type II, SOC2 Type II, ISO 27001, 27018, GDPR, EU Data Protection Directive)
Planning your migration to Microsoft 365 from within G Suite
Like all migration projects, planning is paramount and begins with conducting a health check of your resource environment in addition to an inventory. Understanding what your organization uses in G Suite will help you develop your migration approach. In most cases, organizations want to “lift and shift” their data to avoid loss. Some organizations will choose to migrate only the most critical data, such as email and cloud file storage, allowing them to build their new solution from the ground up to meet their needs. Both approaches present different challenges. Because of the differences in how each platform handles data, there is a risk of losing reliability. Knowing and understanding the differences will help select the right approach for your organization. This, in turn, will increase your level of success in your migration and help you communicate/set expectations with your end users.
In addition to mapping and inventorying your migration resource, planning your Microsoft 365 tenant implementation is an important factor in establishing a successful migration outcome. Microsoft offers a variety of features and capabilities in areas such as email and collaboration, identity and data security, data loss prevention, endpoint management and more. Creating a good foundation in all these areas will enable a smooth migration of data and user transition.
Migration between productivity suites from Google and Microsoft has the most impact, if not the entire organization. Consider business workflows, collaboration, data structures, compliance, etc. if you have not yet mapped and documented your business workflows, now is a good time. Knowing how your migration affects business units and how your organization responds to change drives adoption of the new platform.
Our tip here is to take as much time as possible to review and plan your migration. As the saying goes, “measure seven times, cut once.” Get insight into your data, business impact of migration, source platform, target platform and the limits of each related to your migration project. Devise a roadmap, testing, validation scenarios and back-out plans for each phase of your migration.
Selecting the right migration tool
Microsoft offers native toolsets available to help migrate to its platform from various sources; however, many organizations choose to opt for a third-party tool, such as BitTitan or SkyKick. Selecting the right migration tool that fits your organization’s migration goal has a major impact on the migration outcome. Your selection criteria should consider several factors, such as:
- Migration environments supported
- Privacy, security and compliance (e.g. HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, etc.).
- What will and will not be migrated
- Endpoint management and configuration
- Support availability and options
- License options and costs
Using a third-party tool for your migration involves costs. With many licensing options available, it is important to select the right option that will give your organization the most value for money. Many third-party tools have complicated licensing schemes and multiple license bundle choices. However, cost should never be a deciding factor in selecting the right migration tool for your organization. Buy once, cry once, as long as your decision ensures that you migrate everything you need and reduces post-migration headaches for your organization.
The best tip we can give here is to do due diligence to match the available migration tools to your migration needs. In most cases, one tool provides everything needed for a successful migration. Understand the limitations of your tool and how to mitigate them. Make sure the tool can meet your desired security and compliance requirements.
Migration strategy for G Suite to Microsoft 365
Once you have selected your migration tool of choice, it is a good idea to choose a migration strategy. Most tools offer several options, but in general, most organizations will opt for a Pre-Staged Cutover, Big-Bang or Co-Existence scenario.
The Pre-Staged Cutover is the most commonly used migration strategy when migrating from G Suite to Microsoft 365. It makes it possible to move most of the organization’s data to the destination, allowing time and space to complete other tasks involved in migration and reducing the time required for system refresh. The disadvantage of using this method is the possibility that changes in the source may not be replicated to the destination, because most tools only copy data rather than synchronize it.
The Big-Bang strategy is often employed by a smaller organization that can tolerate service interruptions on weekends, for example. The Big-Bang Strategy is the simplest and most cost-effective method. Although it comes with some drawbacks, such as delays in data availability and access, missing data and prolonged downtime, depending on the size and scope of the amount of data being migrated.
The Co-Existence scenario is often reserved for the larger, more complex organizations that are unable to migrate everyone at the same time. For example, if the organization chooses to move based on business unit requirements or has a low/no tolerance for service interruptions. This is the most expensive and most difficult strategy to implement. The entire migration process can take months to complete and often has various implications for the entire organization.
Our tip to start with Pre-Staged Cutover as your planned migration strategy and then run table exercises to ensure it fits your organizational needs before considering other migration strategies.
Documenting your migration from Google to M365
As you plan and execute your migration from Google to Microsoft 365, make sure your team documents every step of the way. Documentation is not only useful to refer to during the project, but also makes it easy to analyze and discuss lessons learned after the project research. Documentation may also be needed for compliance or audit purposes to show what and how things were completed.
One element, often overlooked, is instruction by end users. As you prepare to plan your communications with your organization, consider what your users need to know when they are migrated. Be sure to go through the scenarios yourself and document your experience.
Our tip is to use a centralized, organized repository to keep your documents. Most organizations use a file share, but if you get your Microsoft 365 tenant up and running, it could be a OneNote notepad, a SharePoint site or a Teams channel. Keep a log of actions/steps, artifacts (e.g., Screenshots, files, etc.) and document versions as changes occur. Create detailed end-user instructions that communicate the required tasks to be completed during the migration lifecycle.
Steps for communicating your Microsoft 365 migration
Change is hard! Especially when migrating between productivity suites that affect every aspect of your business. As mentioned earlier, it is important to know how your migration will affect business units and how people in your organization work to drive adoption of the new platform. A good communication strategy can ease your organization’s transition to the new platform by preparing your users for possible disruptions, tasks they may need to perform and workflow changes.
When planning your communications, it is necessary to establish a timeline of emails and notifications. By communicating well, you ensure that your message is well received across multiple departments/business units. It is important to start with preliminary communication to set expectations with key stakeholders and end users. Then, depending on the migration strategy, secondary, tertiary, pending, catch-up and final communication emails are needed to keep everyone informed. The size of your organization and the size of the migration determine your communication pattern.
Our tip here is to schedule your communication emails/notifications. If available, work with your organization’s HR and employee departments to maintain uniformity in your communication jargon. When migrating Google Gmail to Microsoft Exchange Online, make sure you have a plan in place to communicate with your end users before the transition and provide instructions on how to log in to the destination.
Develop the migration runbook
Like any project, it is crucial to develop an action plan that dictates each step. This plan is usually called a Migration Runbook and its purpose is to outline each step of the migration (usually at a high level), define timelines, responsibilities, expected outcomes and a fallback plan.
The Migration Runbook serves as a framework for the entire project and is usually divided into several phases, as follows:
- Migration Cutover
- After migration
- Migration cleanup
Be sure to assign key stakeholders and responsible parties to each task, with primary and secondary responsibilities, and set start and end dates. Define task types and detail steps requiring change management. Keep things at a high level, but also make sure to call out tasks that require detailed action. An example might be migrating a resource at a specific time to ensure data reliability. Another example might be a call for a VIP in a particular business unit.
Our tip here is to take the time to develop your Migration Runbook. Walk through the plan and, if warranted, conduct a table exercise to ensure that all parties are in sync. The Migration Runbook is mostly a living framework, and it is okay to make changes as needed to achieve migration goals.
Implementation and completion
Everything so far will guide the implementation of your migration project. The amount of time and effort put into planning will determine the success of the migration. Once you’ve crossed your T’s and dotted your I’s, you’re ready to migrate from G Suite to M365.
Our tip here is to follow the plan you created, keep track of each step, document progress and pitfalls, and consult your Migration Runbook framework to keep you on track.
How we can help you
ALTA-ICT is a technology consulting partner with a focus on customer requirements, transparency and agnostic solutions. Use our approach to strengthen your technologies and execute your IT initiatives. Provided by a team of highly skilled and expertly trained technicians, ALTA-ICT is committed to helping your company choose and execute the perfect migration strategy to execute your move from G Suite to Microsoft 365.
Benefits of migrating to M365 with ALTA-ICT:
- integration of end-user change management with the technical aspects
- Use best practices focused on high-end user satisfaction with minimal workflow disruption
- Smooth rollout with support based on past experience
- Accelerated project timelines due to proven processes
- Reduction of costly risks and surprises during implementations
Contact us today and let us help you successfully execute your migration from G Suite to Microsoft 365!
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