Migrating to Exchange Online Introduction

In this article, I'll describe how to migrate from third-party email hosting providers to the Office

Migrating to Exchange Online Part 1

In this article, I'll describe how to migrate from third-party email hosting providers to the Office

Migrating to Exchange Online Part 2

In this article, I'll describe how to migrate from third-party email hosting providers to the Office

 

Migrating to Exchange Online Introduction

March 18, 2013 in IT Infrastructure, Office365, Technical Documentation

Introduction

Microsoft recently released the next generation of Microsoft® Office 365. This exciting new release includes Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, along with the latest versions of the other Office 365 suite of applications.

In this article, I’ll describe how to migrate from third-party email hosting providers to Office 365 Small Business Premium or Office 365 Small Business.

Having migrated a number of companies to the previous version of Office 365, I’m keen to share with the Office 365 community my experiences in migrating to this new generation of Office 365.

Every migration I’ve done has met with the customer’s satisfaction; however, the effort required in getting to that point varied considerably, and I’ve learned valuable lessons along the way. Hopefully, by reading this article you will be able to put together a roadmap for migrating your company, or a customer, to Office 365 Small Business and also save yourself time. This article is written for those involved in migrating a small to medium-size business to Office 365 from a hosted provider. Although the article is technical in nature, providing step-by-step instructions, a nontechnical audience will also gain valuable insights regarding the high-level steps required for migrating their company.

In this article, I am only going to deal with migrating from third-party email hosting providers. Migrations from an on-premises Microsoft Exchange deployment to Office 365 are covered in depth in Mailbox Migration to Exchange Online.

About the Author

Peter O’Dowd is a longtime Exchange MVP, consultant, trainer, and author. He has worked closely with Wadeware for 10 years developing technical content for Microsoft Exchange.

 

Email hosting providers come in many forms and varieties

The first step in developing your migration roadmap is to establish what features your email hosting provider provides. The following table shows a summary of the migration features possible with Office 365 Small Business, with examples of third-party email hosting providers. The steps required to perform these migration features are fully described, along with screenshots, throughout this blog.

Those of us who are familiar with Office 365 functionality are used to features such as:

  • Exportable Global Address Lists (GALs)
  • Multi-level folders in mailboxes
  • Attachments, read/unread status
  • Calendars, meeting rooms, shared mailboxes
  • Shared contacts
  • Administrator-assigned permissions
  • User-delegated permissions

We take these features for granted because Office 365 with Exchange Online provides them. However, the world of POP and IMAP providers is very different, and many of these features/capabilities are not provided. Unfortunately, the absence of some of these features – e.g., exportable GALs or administrator-assigned permissions – can add extra effort to the migration.

The following table describes three common provider types and their capabilities.

Capability Example POP provider Example IMAP provider Example Hosted Exchange provider
Domain name suffix Tailspintoys.com Customer-specific; for example, contoso.com or treyresearch.com Customer-specific; for example, contoso.com or treyresearch.com
Cutover migration NO NO YES
IMAP migration NO YES YES, but cutover migration is preferable
Admin account with Full Access NO YES YES
Export Contacts NO YES YES
Export Calendar NO NO, but may be shared privately/publicly for access in Office 365 YES, the calendar is migrated along with the other mailbox contents

 

Most migrations involve the following list of common tasks:

  • Register and subscribe to Office 365.
  • Verify your domain name to Office 365, to configure it as an accepted domain.
  • Create users/mailboxes.
  • Migrate the mailbox data, Calendar, and Contacts where possible.
  • Maintain a period of coexistence between the old and new environments.
  • Point the mail exchanger (MX) record to Office 365.
  • Decommission the email provider’s mailboxes.

To get the most from this blog, look at the preceding table and decide which of the three examples most closely resembles your provider. Then click the link to the section in this article that describes the migration steps required to create your roadmap:

For information on registering/subscribing to Office365, as well as other relevant information see Select an Office 365 business plan.

Migrating to Exchange Online Part 1

March 18, 2013 in IT Infrastructure, Office365, Technical Documentation

POP Mailbox Specifics

The provider I will illustrate here, a fictitious company named Tailspin Toys, is typical of most POP providers. Its capabilities are detailed in the following table.

Capability Example POP provider
Domain name suffix Fixed, cannot be changed and defined by the provider; for example, tailspintoys.com
IMAP capable NO
Admin account with Full Access NO
Export org address book NO
Export Contacts NO
Export Calendar NO

 

To summarize the table, every mailbox has the namespace of the provider, and these are simple mailboxes containing just an Inbox. It is not possible to export address books, nor is the customer provided with a single account with permission to access all mailboxes. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll give this POP email provider the fictitious domain name tailspintoys.com. Tailspin Toys provides POP mailboxes that cannot be accessed via the IMAP protocol. Therefore there are two options for migrating these POP mailboxes to Office 365:

  1. Each user logs in to the Office 365 mailbox and adds the POP mailbox as a connected account.
  2. Each user logs in to the POP mailbox using the Microsoft Office Outlook® client, saves POP mail as .pst files, and then connects Outlook to Office 365 and exports the .pst files into the Office 365 mailbox.
  • If you are using Outlook 2013 on a PC and are on Office 365 Small Business, import Outlook items from an Outlook data file (.pst).
  • If you are using Outlook 2007 on a PC and are not on Office 365 Small Business, import Outlook items from a Personal Folders file (.pst).
  • If you are using Outlook 2010 on a PC and are not on Office 365 Small Business, import Outlook items from an Outlook data file (.pst).
  • If you are using Outlook for Mac, import data into Outlook 2011.

In this blog, I’ll describe the first method – using connected accounts. It is worth noting that any business using Tailspin Toys’ POP email will almost certainly have fewer than 10 mailboxes. Typically, a complete migration can be performed in less than an hour by manually logging in to each Office 365 mailbox and creating a connected account for Tailspin Toys’ POP mailboxes. Typically, these POP providers have mailboxes in the provider’s namespace. The Tailspin Toys POP mailboxes are in the @tailspintoys.com namespace; when a customer moves to Office 365, they will have registered their own namespace with their domain registrar. It is recommended that both namespaces – @tailspintoys.com and their own namespace – are concurrent for a period to allow for any recipients who might reply to an old mail item sent from the Tailspin Toys email address, and that users should set their default reply address for ALL mail to their new custom address.


Figure 1: Example of simple POP provider Comcast

Add a Connected Account in Office 365

  1. Open the mailbox in Office 365.
  2. In the Office 365 mailbox, click Settings and then select Options.


  3. Click connected accounts.


  4. In the connected accounts screen click New.


    The following dialog box appears.


  5. Type the user’s @tailspintoys.com mailbox name and password, and then click Next. Briefly wait for the following screen to appear.


  6. Click Finish.

    That’s it! The POP mailbox is now configured as a connected account in the Office 365 mailbox.


The connected mailbox will now appear in the Connected Accounts dialog box. Email from the POP Inbox folder will now be copied into the Office 365 mailbox. Connected accounts are synchronized once per hour to Office 365.

Setting the Default Reply Address

If you set the default reply address to Automatic, when a user replies to a message, Outlook Web App will automatically set the reply address to match the account through which the message was received. Users can also change the reply address on individual messages as needed. For a migration where the Tailspin Toys mailbox typically will be discontinued after a period of time, it is recommended that the users configure the default reply address to be their new Office 365 mailbox address; e.g., spencerl@tailspintoys.com

For further details on configuring connected accounts, see Connected accounts.

Migrating to Exchange Online Part 2

March 18, 2013 in IT Infrastructure, Office365, Technical Documentation

IMAP4 Mailbox Migration Specifics

Email provider Northwind Traders supports the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP). Using the IMAP protocol allows you to migrate all mailbox folders (not just the Inbox as with POP3). Also, the provider allows the customer to configure their own address space and subsequently have MX records configured in DNS with their domain registrar to direct incoming email to the provider’s mail server.

Capability Example 1 IMAP provider
Domain name suffix Customer-specific; for example, contoso.com or treyresearch.com
IMAP migration YES
Admin account with Full Access NO
Export org address book YES
Export Contacts YES
Export Calendar NO

 

Unfortunately, with this provider there is no single account that has full mailbox access to all mailboxes. Consequently, it is necessary to work around this as described later in this article.

First, it is necessary to verify the domain name to Microsoft. Let’s assume that the name of the provider is Northwind Traders, and that our registered domain name is treyresearch.com. Further details for verifying domain names can be found at Verify your domain and change name servers at any DNS hosting provider or domain registrar.

Further information on IMAP migrations may be found at Migrate Email from an IMAP Server to Exchange Online Mailboxes.

Verify your email domain with Office 365 and configure it as an accepted domain

To create users with your treyresearch.com email addresses, you must specify the domain name, verify that you own that domain name, and then add it as an accepted domain. To do this, perform the following steps:

  1. Log in to Office 365 using the administrator account.
  2. In the Admin portal, under Manage your organization, under domains, click Manage your website and email domains.


  3. Click Add a domain.


  4. Type the name of the domain and then click next.


  5. In the Tell us about… screen, select Yes to confirm that you already have the email address.

    Note that in this example, I have selected Yes for the web site selection. For your organization, you may opt to make another choice. Click Next.


  6. Select Confirm that you own <your company name>.


  7. Click the drop-down list and then select your provider.

    In this example, treyresearch.com uses Go Daddy’s DNS to host their namespace, so we select Go Daddy in the Office 365 dialog box.


  8. You are prompted with a screen instructing you what value to enter in a TXT DNS record. Office 365 provides great instructions here to assist with registering the domain. It is worth printing out the instructions. Click Print to print the instructions provided on the Office 365 site. If you cannot print, it might be necessary to switch between the screens.

    Scroll down and make a note of the value of the TXT record you will need to add to your provider’s DNS; e.g., in my example it was MS=ms87257449.


     

Add a TXT record to your registrar’s DNS

  1. To change the settings in DNS, go to your registrar’s domain management page, in this case Go Daddy.
  2. Open the Go Daddy control panel.
  3. Click Domain Manager.


  4. Click the domain name, and then under DNS Manager, click Launch.


  5. In DNS Manager, click Add Record.


  6. At this point, the Office 365 Help screen dialog boxes will provide you with the record details you need to enter. Keep the printout at hand, or jot down the values. Once you have the record value, in the Add DNS Record dialog box, click the down arrow for the Record type: box, and then choose TXT (Text).


  7. For TXT Name, type or paste the following: @

    For TXT Value, type or paste the value you noted previously; e.g., MS=ms87257449

    For TTL, leave the value set to 1 Hour.

    Click OK.


    Note: While you are editing the DNS records, now is a good time to confirm that the time to live (TTL) of the MX record is no longer than 1 hour. If it is, reduce it to 1 hour, which will make the final transition a lot smoother.

  8. Save the Zone File.
  9. Click OK.


     

Complete verification of the domain name

  1. Wait at least 15 minutes for the changes to take effect across the Internet. Come back to the Office 365 portal, and then click done, verify now.


    If the verification of the DNS record cannot be confirmed immediately, wait and try again later. In my experience, these names typically take less than 1 hour to resolve.


  2. Once confirmed, the following screen is displayed. Click next. (In this example we are only confirming ownership of the domain name.)


  3. Now that you have confirmed that you have ownership of the domain and that it is configured as an accepted domain, you can create email addresses using the domain name. Click Finish.


The next step is to create the mailboxes.

Create the Office 365 User Accounts

Because there is no bulk import feature in the Office 365 Small Business tenant, it is necessary to create the user accounts manually. This should not be too much of an ordeal, as customers choosing the Office 365 Small Business client will be small organizations with only a few users to create.

As stated earlier, the hosting provider in this example does allow for an export of mailbox configuration data. This is extremely useful for manually recreating the user accounts in Office 365.

For example, with Rackspace email hosting, I was able to export mailbox information by selecting Export list (.csv) as shown below.

The exported .CSV file is shown below.

The details in the spreadsheet are a great reference for creating users manually on the Office 365 Small Business portal.

To create the users, perform the following steps:

  1. Open the Office 365 admin console.
  2. Click Add users, reset passwords, and more.


  3. Click Add new (the + sign).


  4. Type in each user’s details from the exported .CSV file. Ensure that the correct domain name is showing in the domain name drop-down list (under User name). Click next.


  5. Under Assign permissions, choose whether you want the user to be an administrator, and set the user’s location. Click next.


  6. Select the licenses to apply to the user, and then click next.


    Note: Licenses may be changed and reconfigured later. For more information on assigning licenses, see Assign or remove a license.

  7. The user account password can be sent to an email account for management purposes. To do so, type the email address and then click create.


    Once created, the user accounts and passwords are displayed in a similar way to those on the following screen.


The next step is to import all email from the hosting provider to the new Office 365 mailboxes.

Populate Office 365 users’ mailboxes with hosted mailbox email items

Now we need to connect to the host Northwind Traders, collect all of the users’ email, and place it in their Office 365 mailboxes. To do this, we use the built-in Office 365 IMAP migration tools. The IMAP provider Northwind Traders does not provide an administrator account to log in to all of the mailboxes and access email. Therefore the only way to get import to work is to create a .CSV file as shown in the following illustration, with the users’ logon names and passwords.

You have a couple of options here, depending on the security of the customer you’re working with. In an environment where everyone trusts each other and the risk of anyone reading other people’s mail is insignificant, you could get all users to change their passwords to be the same, which makes creating the spreadsheet much easier. However, it is more than likely that this is not desirable, in which case you will need to gather each user’s password individually.

Create a .CSV file

I recommend initially creating a .CSV file with only a few test user accounts in it. Hopefully your users’ passwords are stronger than those in my example below!

Some providers require “email address” in the UserName field, and some require just the short username. Trial and error may be required here.

 

Navigation to the migration settings in the Exchange Administration Center

Important: To navigate to the Exchange Administration Center (EAC)
in the Office 365 Small Business tenant, it is necessary to manually enter the URL for the EAC into your browser. To do this, perform the following steps:

  1. In the Office 365 portal, at the top of the page, select Outlook.
  2. In Outlook Web App, go to the address bar in your browser and replace the URL to the right of https://outlook.office365.com/ with ecp. For example, if your Outlook Web App URL is https://podxxx.outlook.com/owa/, change it to https://podxxx.outlook.com/ecp, and then press Enter. This will take you to the EAC.
  3. When you are finished, return to the Office 365 portal by clicking Admin at the top of the page.

    The Exchange Administration Center will now be displayed.

  4. In the Exchange Administration Center, click migration.


  5. Click new and then select Migrate to Exchange Online.


  6. Select IMAP migration and then click next.

    The new migration batch screen will appear.


  7. Browse to the.CSV file you created containing the users’ logons and passwords to the IMAP provider, and then click next.


  8. In the new migration batch screen, enter the server name (e.g., imap.nwtraders.com – the Northwind Traders IMAP server) and then click next.

    Note: Your e-mail provider will be able to provide you with this name; however, it is likely that you are already know it as the name you use to connect your IMAP clients.


  9. In the new migration batch screen, enter a batch name. The batch name is for identification purposes only; e.g., I entered the name importuseremail. Use an intuitive name here so that it will be easy to recognize what it refers to at a later stage.


  10. Browse to the Office 365 mailbox to which you want the report of the migration to be delivered, and then choose to start the batch immediately or later. Click new.


  11. The migration batch will show a status of Created. Click Start to begin the migration.


  12. Click Refresh for updates.


  13. Click View details for details on the progress of all mailboxes.


    The details screen reports on the progress of all mailboxes.


    The screen above reports that the IMAP migration failed. This is because I had used an incorrect password to access that specific account in the .CSV file.

 

When the procedure has been completed, an email message will be sent to the administrator mailbox in Office 365. Open the email and download the report. Look for any errors in the email; typically, an incorrect password for a user mailbox will create an error.

Recommended practice: Initially, create a .CSV file with just a few ‘test’ mailboxes listed in it to confirm that the format of the .CSV file is correct and that mailboxes migrate. This is also a good time to record how long a mailbox takes to migrate and calculate the GB/hour transfer rate. This figure should be used to calculate the time required for a complete migration. Once a mailbox has been migrated, Office 365 will continue to synchronize the mailbox every 24 hours. Therefore it is possible to perform a migration where users continue to use their Northwind-hosted mailboxes until you have migrated all of the mail.

Migrating User Contacts

The Northwind Traders hosting environment provides no way to export contacts. Therefore, if your users want to have their contacts available in Office 365, they will need to export them and then import them into Office 365 themselves. Here’s an example of exporting contacts with the hosting provider Go Daddy. For additional information on importing contacts, see Import contacts using Outlook Web App.

Contacts

Export contacts

  1. Instruct your users to go to the Go Daddy workspace. Click the Email tab, and then click Address Book.
  2. Select Contacts.


  3. Click Export.


  4. Click Export CSV and then save the user’s personal contacts to a .CSV file in a safe location.

    This will be imported into Office 365 when the user can access their Office 365 mailbox.


Import contacts into Office 365

Instruct users to import their contacts by opening Outlook Web App by performing the following steps.

  1. Select Import Contacts.


  2. Instruct the user to select the .CSV file the user saved prior to migration and then click next.

    The contacts have now been imported and will appear on the contacts screen in Outlook Web App.


 

That’s it – mailboxes have now been created and populated with historic email. Users have imported their contacts.

Switch the destination for email delivery to Office 365

Now it is time to switch over so that mail will be delivered to Office 365. To do this requires changing the MX record for your organization in DNS on the Internet. (Remember, we ensured that its TTL was 1 hour in previous steps.) Go back to the printout of those instructions and enter the value of the MX record that was given to you by Office 365. For more information, see Verify your domain and change name servers at any DNS hosting provider or domain registrar.

 

Migrating to Exchange Online Part 3

March 18, 2013 in IT Infrastructure, Office365, Technical Documentation

Exchange Cutover Migration Specifics

Email provider Northwind Traders is an Exchange hosted provider. This may be loosely considered as being similar to an on-premises Exchange environment; however, it is unlikely that the provider will give you full control of the environment as they are also hosting other customers. When migrating from an on-premises Exchange environment, you have three migration options: remote move; staged migration; and cutover migration. Because the first two options are not practical with a hosted Exchange provider, you must perform a cutover migration.

When migrating hosted Exchange mailboxes to Office 365 in a cutover Exchange migration:

  • Office 365 provisions new mailboxes in your Office 365 organization. It creates an Office 365 mailbox for each user account in your hosted Exchange organization. Hosted distribution groups and contacts are also migrated to Office 365.
  • After the new Office 365 mailboxes are created, the migration service migrates email messages, contacts, and calendar items from the hosted Exchange mailboxes to the corresponding Office 365 mailboxes.
  • After the initial migration, the hosted Exchange and Office 365 mailboxes are synchronized every 24 hours, so that new email sent to the hosted Exchange mailbox is copied to the corresponding cloud-based mailbox.

When you are ready, you can route email directly to the Office 365 mailboxes, complete the migration, and then remove your hosted Exchange organization.

Ironically, this is the simplest migration to perform and provides the best results. With a cutover migration, users’ mail items, calendars, and contacts are all migrated in a single procedure.

As I inferred above, not all Exchange hosted providers are equal; for example, some do not provide the ability to grant full control to all mailboxes in your organization. You will need to work around any such restrictions.

Additional information on cutover migrations is detailed in the following Microsoft TechNet article; although it deals with migrating from an on-premises Exchange environment, most of the details remain relevant and useful for migrating from a hosted Exchange provider. Migrate All Mailboxes to Exchange Online with a Cutover Migration.

As with other migration types, it is necessary to verify the domain name to Microsoft. Let’s assume that the name of the provider is Northwind Traders, and that our registered domain name is treyresearch.com. Further details for verifying domain names can be found at Verify your domain and change name servers at any DNS hosting provider or domain registrar.

Establish an account that has full control permission on all your hosted mailboxes

To perform a cutover migration, it is critical that one account on your hosted provider has full control access to all mailboxes you want to migrate. Depending on your provider, this may mean assigning permissions to each mailbox one by one. For example, the following provider enables full access by using the procedure below.

The account to which you grant full control permissions is the account that you will use when setting up the cutover migration batch later.

Verify your email domain with Office 365 and configure it as an accepted domain

To create users with your treyresearch.com email addresses, you must specify the domain name; verify that you own that domain name; and then add it as an accepted domain. To do this, perform the following steps:

  1. Log in to Office 365 using the administrator account.
  2. In the Admin portal, under Manage your organization, under domains, click Manage your website and email domains.


  3. Click Add a domain.


  4. Type the name of the domain, and then click next.


  5. In the Tell us about… screen, select Yes to confirm that you already have the email address.

    Note that in this example, I have selected Yes for the website selection. For your organization, you may opt to make another choice. Click Next.


  6. Select Confirm that you own <your company name>.


  7. Click the drop-down list and then select your provider.

    In this example, treyresearch.com uses Go Daddy’s DNS to host their namespace, so we select Go Daddy in the Office 365 dialog box.


  8. You are prompted with a screen instructing you what value to enter in a TXT DNS record. Office 365 provides great instructions here to assist with registering the domain. It is worth printing out the instructions. Click Print to print the instructions provided on the Office 365 site. If you cannot print, it might be necessary to switch between the screens.

    Scroll down and make a note of the value of the TXT record you will need to add to your provider’s DNS; e.g., in my example it was MS=ms87257449.


     

Add a TXT record to your registrar’s DNS

Perform the following steps to add a TXT record to your registrar’s DNS:

  1. To change the settings in DNS, go to your registrar’s domain management page, in this case Go Daddy.
  2. Open the Go Daddy control panel.
  3. Click Domain Manager.


  4. Click the domain name, and then under DNS Manager, click Launch.


  5. In DNS Manager, click Add Record.


  6. At this point, the Office 365 Help screen dialog boxes will provide you with the record details you need to enter. Keep the printout at hand, or jot down the values. Once you have the record value, in the Add DNS Record dialog box, click the down arrow for the Record type: box, and then choose TXT (Text).


  7. For TXT Name, type or paste the following: @

    For TXT Value, type or paste the value you noted previously; e.g., MS=ms87257449

    For TTL, leave the value set to 1 Hour.

    Click OK.


    Note: While you are editing the DNS records, now is a good time to confirm that the time to live (TTL) of the MX record is no longer than 1 hour. If it is, reduce it to 1 hour, which will make the final transition a lot smoother.

  8. Save the Zone File.
  9. Click OK.


     

Complete verification of the domain name

Perform the following steps to complete verification of the domain name:

  1. Wait at least 15 minutes for the changes to take effect across the Internet. Come back to the Office 365 portal, and then click done, verify now.


    If the verification of the DNS record cannot be confirmed immediately, wait and try again later. In my experience, these names typically take less than 1 hour to resolve.


  2. Once confirmed, the following screen is displayed. Click next. (In this example, we are only confirming ownership of the domain name.)


  3. Now that you have confirmed that you have ownership of the domain and that it is configured as an accepted domain, you can create email addresses using the domain name. Click Finish.


The next stage is to perform a cutover migration.

Navigation to the migration settings in the Exchange Administration Center

Important: To navigate to the Exchange Administration Center (EAC) in the Office 365 Small Business tenant, it is necessary to manually enter the URL for the EAC into your browser. To do this, perform the following steps:

  1. In the Office 365 portal, at the top of the page, select Outlook.
  2. In Outlook Web App, go to the address bar in your browser and replace the URL to the right of https://outlook.office365.com/ with ecp. For example, if your Outlook Web App URL is https://podxxx.outlook.com/owa/, change it to https://podxxx.outlook.com/ecp and then press Enter. This will take you to the EAC.
  3. When you are finished, return to the Office 365 portal by clicking Admin at the top of the page.

    The EAC will now be displayed.

  4. In the Exchange Administration Center, click migration.


  5. Click new and then select Migrate to Exchange Online.


  6. In the New Migration Batch screen, select Cutover migration and then click next.


  7. In the Email address text box, type the email address of an account that has administrative rights over all mailboxes you want to migrate.
  8. In the Account with privileges text box, type the email address again. (All the hosting providers I’ve migrated from do not provide an account in the format domain\username.)
  9. In the password textbox, type the password for the account.
  10. Click Next.


    Office 365 will now try to communicate with the hosted Exchange provider to verify the Autodiscover connection settings.

    If the test connection isn’t successful, you will be prompted to manually specify the connection settings. If you get an error and the migration endpoint cannot be created, see this video.

    If the test connection to the Exchange server is successful, the Start the Migration
    page is displayed. This is where you create a migration endpoint, and where the settings for your hosted Exchange server and RPC proxy server fields are automatically populated. This migration endpoint is saved and may be used for future migration batches. Click Next.


  11. In the New migration batch name field, type the migration batch name. Choose a name that will make sense to you later if you need to return here. Click next.


  12. Select the name of the mailbox to be sent a report of the migration. You must enter a mailbox name here.
  13. Select Automatically start the batch and then click new.


    You are returned to the Exchange Administrative Center, where you can view a report on the progress of the migration. Clicking the refresh button will update the details.


  14. For more specific details on the migration progress, click View details.


     


  15. Click the refresh button to see further progress.


  16. Press refresh. The status of each mailbox will show as provisioning à Queued à Synching à Synched (or Failed).
  17. For any mailboxes that fail, examine the right pane for error descriptions. In the migration I performed for the purposes of this article, I forgot to assign the migration account full control permissions on a mailbox and therefore received the error shown below.


 

When a user’s mailbox is successfully migrated, the hosted Exchange mailbox and Office 365 mailbox are synchronized once every 24 hours until you delete the cutover migration batch. Once all mailboxes are synced, you are ready to complete the migration. Follow these steps:

  1. Configure your MX record to point to Office 365. (Until you change your MX record, email sent to users is still routed to your hosted Exchange provider. When you configure your organization’s MX record to point to Office 365, all email is sent directly to Office 365).
  2. After you change the MX record and verify that all email is being routed to Office 365 mailboxes, wait for 24 hours and refresh the migration batch. Now you are ready to delete the cutover migration batch.

When you delete a cutover migration batch, the migration service cleans up any records related to the migration batch, and deletes the migration batch. The batch is removed from the list of migration batches on the migration dashboard.

 

Users can now log in and access their mailboxes

Users can now log in. But what login credentials should they use? Open the mailbox you specified when configuring the migration batch, and you will see a mail item for every mailbox created, containing the logon ID and password. Distribute these following your regular security procedures.


Your users can now log in and enjoy the features of the new Office 365.

 

Word 2013 – getting “good to go”

March 5, 2013 in Technical Documentation

Blog post by John Cobb

Are you ready for Word 2013? It may not be quite ready for you, depending on whether you upgrade from Word 2010 or an earlier version. I completed the upgrade, and my experience with Word 2013 has been great for the most part—well, except for a quibble or two and one snafu.

First the good stuff:

  • The new UI in Word 2013 is crisp and sharp. Very Windows 8, as you might expect.
  • As a web app, you can open and exit Word 2013 faster than Word 2010. And the web app appears to respond more quickly to authoring and formatting changes as you work in it.
  • There are a few handy features located at the bottom blue edge of the web app:
  • You can adjust the slider to zoom in and out of your work as you see fit. No more going through the View tab of the ribbon to do this, although that option remains available.
  • The automated Word Count displays the current word count of the document as you work. Need to limit a paragraph to a precise number of words? Just triple-click the paragraph to select it and get an instant word count to let know where you are at.
  • You can also click the proofing icon next to Word Count to start the Spelling & Grammar feature to check your content. The book icon for this feature displays an “x” until all misspellings and grammar snags are resolved. The x changes to a check mark after Word 2013 completes the spell check to indicate no errors in your content.

A quibble and one snafu:

  • Turning Track Changes on works as expected, either by clicking this feature on the Review tab of the ribbon or by pressing Ctrl+Shift+E. However, in Word 2013 the default view of this feature displays tracked changes as Simple Markup, which indicates changes in text with only a red vertical bar in the right margin of the document.
  • To change this view to see more detail, on the Review tab, expand the Display for Review list box and click the All Markup option. This change and others that you may want to make regarding how comments display will remain in effect the next time that you open Word 2013.
  • After completing the upgrade to Word 2013 and editing some content, as a final step before handing the content off, I clicked the Spelling & Grammar button to check my work and immediately got the following reassuring confirmation message:Spell Check

But this turned out to be too reassuring, and in fact I found myself in a bit of a snafu. The Word 2013 ribbon let me know with the following information message that my upgrade was actually missing important proofing tools that this feature requires, which meant that I really wasn’t good to go at all.RibbonClicking the Download button to install the missing proofing tools takes you to the Office 2013 Language Options page. From there I followed what seems like a mostly straightforward process to get the tools.

To download and install the proofing tools from the Office 2013 Language Options page:

  1. On this somewhat less-than-intuitive webpage, expand the Office 2013 Language Options list box to select your language. That is, unless you want to install proofing tools for the default choice, Azerbaycan dili, part of the Turkic language family that is spoken in southwestern Asia by the Azerbaijani people. Who knew?
  2. Under Proofing Tool, click Download to install the tools on your computer, and then reboot.

Unfortunately, this pretty simple process did not work for me. I found it necessary to instead return to the Office Professional Plus 2013 installer to get the proofing tools that I needed.

To download and install the proofing tools from the Office 2013 Professional Plus installer:

  1. On the first page of the installer, leave the default setting in place to Add or Remove Features and then click Continue.
  2. On the Installation Options tab, expand the Microsoft Office node and then expand the Microsoft Word node to verify that all of the app’s components have been installed on your computer.
  3. On the same tab, expand the Office Shared Features node, expand the Proofing Tools node, select the proofing tools package for your language, and then click Continue as needed to install the package and reboot your computer.

Installation OptionsSo if you too discover a case of the missing proofing tools after upgrading to the latest version of Word, rerun the installer to acquire them to be fully good to go with Word 2013.

Site optimization and using Google Webmaster Tools

February 20, 2013 in General

Optimizing Your Website

A webmaster’s primary responsibility is to make a website easily discoverable by people who search the web.  To accomplish this discoverability, it is essential to ensure that site is being indexed by major search engines. This post discusses how using Google Webmaster Tools can increase a website’s visibility in Google search results.

Google Webmaster Tools is a suite of tools that allows webmasters to gain an understanding of what Google sees when it crawls a website and how to improve the visibility of the website’s content. The first step you must perform when using Google Webmaster Tools is to verify that you have sufficient rights to the site you want to manage. Google offers a variety of methods to accomplish this verification. After you log in, you will see an option to add a site (shown in the following figure).

 Google Webmaster Tools - Add and Verify a Site

By clicking the option to add a site, you will be prompted to enter the site address and then verify ownership of the site via a few available options. The recommended option (shown in the following figure) involves downloading a file that Google creates and saving that file to the root of the website. For sites that are hosted externally, you will want to connect to the server upon which the site files are installed, locate the root directory, and copy the downloaded Google file to that directory. Typically, this directory is the same one in which the index.html file is found.

After you successfully copy the file, navigate to the Google Webmaster Tools page and click the address found in step 3 of the instructions shown in the following figure. If you installed the file in the correct place, your browser will display a page with that address and the Google file name you copied in the upper left corner. This display indicates that Google was able to find the file on your server, which sufficiently verifies that you have appropriate rights to the site. After this verification process you will have access to the Google Webmaster Tool suite.

Google Webmaster Tools Recommended Verification Method

I only described the recommended option because Google provides clear instructions for the alternate methods (shown in the following figure) if you choose a different course of verification.

 Google Webmaster Tools - Alternative Verification Method

Google Webmaster Tools serve one main purpose: to help webmasters optimize the websites they manage. This optimization is good for both Google and the webmaster, because Google is in the business of delivering relevant search results and webmasters want to make their websites as visible as possible.

Google gathers information from websites by crawling them (perusing the website pages and indexing data), and it performs this function in two ways: the deep crawl and the fresh crawl.  Google’s deep crawl is an in-depth examination that includes a website’s pages, their content, links, and metadata. This examination provides the pertinent information that Google needs to rank the website according to characteristics that Google determines make a useful website.

It’s worth noting that Google’s crawl functions are intelligent enough to recognize tricky search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. One such example is known as Google bombing. In the early days of web crawling, websites that contained a high number of usable links would receive high page rankings. When Google realized that webmasters were intentionally placing numerous links on their pages to gain higher page rankings, they began to penalize websites for such practices. Using SEO techniques that are less-than-genuine or deceptive to the crawler can result in lowered page rankings and cause websites to be buried so deep in search results that they become virtually invisible.

Google’s fresh crawl is more of a cursory look at a website’s basic content. The fresh crawl process assumes that the basic structure of the website remains the same since the last deep crawl was performed, but that there might be some newer content that needs updating. The fresh crawl does not dive deep into the websites directories or links but operates on a superficial level, taking note of very simple changes to primary page content and not deeper content and structure.

The frequency of which any given website is crawled varies. For webmasters who are interested in obtaining quantifiable data regarding specific changes to their website, the ambiguity of crawl frequency can be problematic.  By using Google Webmaster Tools you can see the crawl history of a website, which provides a general schedule by which you can determine roughly when the next crawl will take place. This information makes it possible to correlate website changes with the data provided by Google Analytics, which enables the quantification of both positive and negative consequences of changes to the site.

For those who have the ability to run queries against their web server, there is good news. Here at Wadeware, we verify the last crawl by means of the command line and LogParser 2.0. Using this method, we can run SQL queries against the web server to find out each time the robots.txt file was requested. Because the robots.txt file is requested by most indexing spiders (programs designed to find and index data on websites across the internet), and not just Google spiders, the result is a .csv table that is full of data regarding who crawled the website and when. The amount of time spent on the crawl, whether there was an error and what kind, the date, and other specific is available to anyone who has this capability.

Some of this data, including crawl dates, is also available via the Google Webmaster Tools interface and Google does a great job of making the data easy to view; however, we find that the previously described method provides more useful information.  The main benefit is that a query can operate within more parameters and provide various kinds of information about all the sources that try to access the robots.txt file.  This method can be useful for webmasters because it offers the information necessary to limit the spiders that are crawling their sites. For example, if company A sells shoes online but only ships to the United States, there is no reason for a Chinese spider to be crawling their website.  Examining the data that comes from determining who or what is accessing the robots.txt file provides a comprehensive list of all the spiders crawling the page, including the ones that should be banned.

The Fetch as Google feature also proves to be instrumental in monitoring how changes to a website affect visibility in searches. For those concerned with getting new content indexed quickly, this tool serves as a crawl request to Google; however, one should not expect this request to result in a deep crawl. The Fetch as Google tool returns the first 100KB of data on a designated page. In addition, it allows you to see what Google sees when your page is crawled. For example, if there is content on your website that is not crawlable, using the Fetch as Google tool can reveal that problem and allow a webmaster to supply the content in a format that is crawlable. The Fetch as Google tool is a powerful way to receive feedback about your website content and its crawlability.

Google’s Index Status link on the left of the Google Webmaster Tools interface provides a graph of the total indexed material on the website. Uploading an accurate sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools significantly helps the Google spiders navigate the crawl process. You can upload a sitemap by clicking the Optimization link and then the Sitemaps link on the left menu. The more data the spiders are able to crawl, the more will be indexed.  At Wadeware, our experience shows that the more data that is successfully indexed, the greater the number of impressions in Google searches the website will receive. You can easily find a sitemap generator online by doing a simple Google search.

A variety of useful tools are included in the Google Webmaster Tools suite. After a webmaster determines that their site is being crawled, additional tools are available that will help them understand ways that their website can be improved upon and appear more friendly to the spiders that crawl it. By utilizing Google Webmaster Tools, even webmasters with limited experience can make vast improvements in their websites’ visibility in search results.

Migrating from third-party providers to Office 365 introduction

December 10, 2012 in IT Infrastructure, Technical Documentation


Introduction

Having migrated a number of companies to Office 365, I think it would be valuable for me to share my experiences with the Office 365 community.

Every migration I’ve done has met with the customer’s satisfaction; however, the effort required in getting to that point varied considerably, and I’ve learned valuable lessons along the way. Hopefully, by reading this article you will be able to put together a roadmap for migrating your company, or a customer, to Office 365 and also save yourself time. This article is written for those involved in migrating a small to medium-size business to Office 365 from a hosted provider. Although the article is technical in nature, providing step-by-step instructions, a nontechnical audience will also gain valuable insights regarding the high-level steps required for migrating their company.

In this article, I am only going to deal with migrating from third-party email hosting providers. Migrations from an on-premises Microsoft Exchange deployment to Office 365 are covered in depth in Migrate Mailboxes to Office 365 for Enterprises.

About the Author

Peter O’Dowd is a longtime Exchange MVP, consultant, trainer, and author. He has worked closely with Wadeware for 10 years developing technical content for Microsoft Exchange.

Email hosting providers come in many forms and varieties

The first step for developing your migration roadmap is to establish what features your email hosting providers provides. The following table shows a summary of the migration features possible with Office 365, with examples of third-party email hosting providers. The steps required to perform these migration features are fully described, along with screenshots, throughout this blog.

Those of us who are familiar with Office 365 functionality are used to features such as:

  • Exportable Global Address Lists (GALs)
  • Multi-level folders in mailboxes
  • Attachments, read/unread status
  • Calendars, meeting rooms, shared mailboxes
  • Shared contacts
  • Administrator-assigned permissions
  • User-delegated permissions

We take these features for granted, as Office 365 with Exchange Online provides them. However, the world of POP and IMAP providers is very different, and many of these features/capabilities are not provided. Unfortunately, the absence of some of these features – e.g., exportable GALs or administrator-assigned permissions – can add extra effort to the migration.

The following table describes three common provider types and their capabilities.

Capability Example POP provider Example 1 IMAP provider Example 2 IMAP provider
Domain name suffix tailspintoys.com Customer-specific; for example, contoso.com or treyresearch.com Customer-specific; for example, contoso.com or treyresearch.com
IMAP migration NO YES YES
Admin account with Full Access NO NO YES
Export org address book NO NO YES
Export Contacts NO YES YES
Export Calendar NO NO NO, but may be shared privately/publicly for access in Office 365

Most migrations involve the following list of common tasks:

  • Register and subscribe to Office 365.
  • Verify your domain name to Office 365, to configure it as an accepted domain.
  • Create users/mailboxes.
  • Migrate the mailbox data, Calendar, and Contacts where possible.
  • Maintain a period of coexistence between the old and new environments.
  • Point the mail exchanger (MX) record to Office 365.
  • Decommission the email provider’s mailboxes.

To get the most from this blog, look at the preceding table and decide which of the three examples most closely resembles your provider. Then click the link to the section in this article that describes the migration steps required to create your roadmap:

For information on registering/subscribing to Office365, as well as other information relevant to small businesses, see the Office 365 Small Business home page.

For information relevant to medium-size enterprise businesses, see Office 365 plans for midsize businesses and enterprises.

A really useful plan advisor and cost estimator tool can be found at Microsoft Office 365 Advisor Tools.

Migrating from third-party providers to Office 365 – POP3 Email

December 9, 2012 in IT Infrastructure, Technical Documentation


Introduction

Part 2: IMAP4 Example 1

Part 3: IMAP4 Example 2

 

POP mailbox specifics

The provider I will illustrate here is typical of most POP providers. Its capabilities are detailed in the following table.

Capability Example POP provider
Domain name suffix Fixed, cannot be changed and defined by the provider. For example, tailspintoys.com
IMAP capable NO
Admin account with Full Access NO
Export org address book NO
Export Contacts NO
Export Calendar NO

To summarize the table, every mailbox has the namespace of the provider, and these are simple mailboxes containing just an Inbox. It is not possible to export address books, nor is the customer provided with a single account with permission to access all mailboxes. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll give this POP email provider the fictitious name Tailspin Toys (tailspintoys.com). Tailspintoys provides POP mailboxes that cannot be accessed via the IMAP protocol. Therefore there are two options for migrating these POP mailboxes to Office 365:

  1. Each user logs in to the Office 365 mailbox and adds the POP mailbox as a connected account.
  2. Each user logs in to the POP mailbox using the Microsoft Office Outlook client, saves POP mail as .pst files, and then connects Outlook to Office 365 and exports the .pst files into the Office 365 mailbox. (For more information, see How to manage .pst files in Microsoft Outlook and Use Outlook to Move Data Between Accounts).

In this blog, I’ll describe the first method – using connected accounts. It is worth noting that any business using Tailspin Toys’ POP email will almost certainly have fewer than 10 mailboxes. Typically, a complete migration can be performed in less than an hour by manually logging in to each Office 365 mailbox and creating a connected account for Tailspin Toys’ POP mailboxes. Typically, these POP providers have mailboxes in the provider’s namespace. The Tailspin Toys POP mailboxes are in the @tailspintoys.com namespace; when a customer moves to Office 365, they will have registered their own namespace with their domain registrar. It is recommended that both namespaces – @tailspintoys.com and their own namespace – are concurrent for a period to allow for any recipients who might reply to an old mail item sent from the Tailspin Toys email address, and that users should set their default reply address for ALL mail to their new custom address.


Example of simple POP provider Comcast

Add a connected account in Office 365

  1. Open the mailbox in Office 365.
  2. In the Office 365 mailbox, click Options and then select See all Options.

  3. Select Connected Accounts and then click New. The following dialog box appears.

  4. Type the user’s @tailspintoys mailbox name and password, and then click Next. Briefly wait for the following screen to appear.

  5. Click Finish.

That’s it! The POP mailbox is now configured as a connected account in the Office 365 mailbox.

The connected mailbox will now appear in the Connected Accounts dialog box. Email from the POP Inbox folder will now be copied into the Office 365 mailbox. Connected accounts are synchronized once per hour to Office 365.

Setting the default reply address

If you set the default reply address to Automatic, when a user replies to a message, Outlook Web App will automatically set the reply address to match the account through which the message was received. Users can also change the reply address on individual messages as needed. For a migration where the Tailspin Toys mailbox typically will be discontinued after a period of time, it is recommended that the users configure the default reply address to be their new Office 365 mailbox address; e.g., spencerl@treyresearch.com.


For further details on configuring connected accounts, see Getting Started with Connected Accounts.

Continue to Part 2: IMAP4 Example 1

Part 3: IMAP4 Example 2

Migrating from third-party providers to Office 365 – IMAP4 #1

December 8, 2012 in IT Infrastructure, Technical Documentation


Introduction

Part 1: POP3 Example

 

IMAP4 Mailbox Migration Specifics – Example 1

This email provider, Northwind Traders, supports the IMAP protocol. Using the IMAP protocol allows you to migrate all mailbox folders (not just the Inbox as with POP3). Also, the provider allows the customer to configure their own address space and subsequently have MX records configured in DNS with their domain registrar to direct incoming email to the provider’s mail server.

Capability Example 1 IMAP provider
Domain name suffix Customer-specific; for example, contoso.com or treyresearch.com
IMAP migration YES
Admin account with Full Access NO
Export org address book NO
Export Contacts YES
Export Calendar NO

Unfortunately, with this provider it is not possible to export the address book of email addresses and mailbox information, nor is there a single account that has full mailbox access to all mailboxes. Consequently, it is necessary to work around these as follows. First, it is necessary to verify the domain name to Microsoft. Let’s assume that the name of the provider is Northwind Traders, and our registered domain name is treyresearch.com. Further details may be found at Verify a domain at any domain name registrar.

Verify the treyresearch.com email domain to Office 365 and configure it as an accepted domain

To create users with your treyresearch.com email addresses, you must specify the name, verify that you own that name, and then add it is an accepted domain. To do this:

  1. Log in to Office 365 using the administrator account, and navigate to the Domains page as shown in the following screenshot.


  2. Click Add a domain.


  3. Type the name of the domain and then click Next. In this example, treyresearch.com uses Go Daddy’s DNS to host their namespace, so we specify Go Daddy in the Office 365 dialog box.


  4. In the drop-down list, select Go Daddy.


  5. Office 365 provides great instructions here to assist with registering the domain. It is worth printing out the instructions. Click Print to print the instructions provided on the Office 365 site. If you cannot print, it may be necessary to switch between the screens.
  6. Open the Go Daddy control panel.


  7. Click Domain Manager.


  8. Click the domain name and then, under DNS Manager, click Launch.


  9. In DNS Manager, click Add Record.


  10. The Office 365 Help screen dialog boxes will provide you with the record details you enter at this point. Keep the printout at hand, or jot down the values. Once you have the record value, in the Add DNS Record dialog box, click the down arrow for the Record type: box, and then choose TXT (Text).


  11. For TXT Name, type or paste the following: @
  12. For TXT Value, type or paste the following: MS=ms87257449
  13. For TTL, leave the value set to 1 Hour.
  14. Click OK.

    Note: While you are editing the DNS records, now is a good time to confirm that the time to live (TTL) of the MX record is no longer than 1 hour. If it is, reduce it to 1 hour, which will make the final transition a lot smoother.

  15. Save the Zone File.


  16. Click OK.

Complete verification of the domain name

  1. Wait at least 15 minutes for the changes to take effect across the Internet. Come back to the Office 365 portal, and then click done, verify now.


    If the following screen appears, wait and try again later. In my experience, these names typically take less than 1 hour to resolve.


    Once confirmed, the following screen is displayed.


  2. Click Finish.

 

Create the Office 365 Mailboxes

Unfortunately, in our example with the provider Northwind Traders, there is no way to export the mailbox email addresses into a .csv file, so this must be done manually. Create a .csv file in the format shown in the following illustration. Create a row for each user and mailbox to be created. Save the .csv file locally to your computer. For additional information on Importing Users into Office 365 using a .csv file, see Add Multiple Users with Bulk Import and Import New Exchange Online Users with a CSV file.


  1. In the Office 365 portal, under Management, click Users.
  2. Click New and then select Bulk Add.


  3. Enter the name and path of the local CSV file and click Next.


    The user accounts and mailboxes will be created. Once complete, a results screen similar to the following will be displayed. Review the results and then click Next.


  4. Configure the sign-in status and user location.


  5. Select the licenses to apply to users.

    Note: Licenses may be changed and reconfigured later. For more information on assigning licenses, see Assign a License to New Mailboxes in Office 365.


  6. The user account passwords can be sent to an email account for management purposes. To do so, enter the email address and then click Create.


    Once created, the user accounts and passwords are displayed on the following screen.


Populate Office 365 mailboxes with hosted user mailbox email items

Now we need to connect to the host Northwind Traders, collect all of the users’ email, and place it in their Office 365 mailboxes. To do this, we use the built-in Office 365 IMAP migration tools. The IMAP provider Northwind Traders does not provide an administrator account to log in to all of the mailboxes and access email. Therefore the only way to get import to work is to create a .csv file as shown in the following illustration, with the users’ logon names and passwords. You have a couple of options here, depending on the security of the customer you’re a working with. In an environment where everyone trusts each other and the risk of anyone reading other people’s mail is insignificant, you could get all users to change their passwords to be the same, which makes creating the spreadsheet much easier. However, it is more than likely that this is not desirable, in which case you will need to gather each user’s password individually.

Create a .csv file

I recommend initially creating a .csv file with only a few test user accounts in it. Hopefully your users’ passwords are stronger than those in my example below!


Some providers require ’email address’ in the username field, and some require just the short username. Trial and error may be required here.

  1. Log in to the Office 365 portal as administrator, and then in Outlook Web App, click Options and select See all Options.
  2. On the
    options screen, click Manage Myself and then select Manage My Organization.


  3. Click the E-Mail Migration tab, click New, and then click Next.


  4. Select IMAP.


  5. On the Provide connection settings for your server (Step 1 of 3) screen, enter the server name (e.g., imap.nwtraders.com – the Northwind Traders IMAP server) and then click Next.

    Note: Your e-mail provider will be able to provide you with this name; however, it is likely that you are already know it as the name you use to connect your IMAP clients.


  6. On the Specify what and how to migrate (Step 2 of 3) screen, browse to the .csv file and enter a batch name. The batch name is for identification purposes only; e.g., I entered the name users A-J. Use an intuitive name here so that it will be easy to recognize what it refers to at a later stage.


    Here you get an opportunity to exclude folders such as Junk Mail and Deleted Items; check with the email provider mailbox for actual folder names you want to exclude.

  7. Click Next.


  8. Click Close.

    The migration batch will show a status of Created. Click Start to begin the migration.


  9. Click Refresh for updates.



When the procedure is completed, an email message will be sent to the administrator mailbox on Office 365. Open the email and download the report. Look for any errors in the email; typically, an incorrect password for a user mailbox will create an error. Recommended practice Initially, create a .csv file with just a few ‘test’ mailboxes listed in it to confirm that the format of the .csv file is correct and that mailboxes migrate. This is also a good time to record how long a mailbox takes to migrate and calculate the GB/hour transfer rate. This figure should be used to calculate the time required for a complete migration. Once a mailbox has been migrated, Office 365 will continue to synchronize the mailbox every 24 hours. Therefore it is possible to perform a migration where users continue to use their Northwind-hosted mailboxes until you have migrated all of the mail.

Migrating User Contacts

The Northwind Traders hosting environment provides no way for exporting contacts. Therefore, if your users want to have their contacts available in Office 365, they will need to export them and then import them into Office 365 themselves. Here’s an example of exporting contacts with the hosting provider Go Daddy. For additional information on importing contacts, see Learn More About Importing Contacts.

Export contacts

  1. Instruct your users to go to the Go Daddy workspace. Click the Email tab, and then click Address Book.
  2. Select Contacts.


  3. Click Export.


  4. Click Export CSV and save the user’s personal contacts to a .CSV file in a safe location. This will be imported into Office 365 when the user can access their Office 365 mailbox.

     

Import contacts into Office 365

  • In Office 365, click Contacts, click Import, and then in the Import Contacts dialog box, click Browse and select the .csv file the user saved prior to migration.



    That’s it – mailboxes have now been created and populated with historic email. Users have imported their contacts.

Switch the destination for email delivery to Office 365

Now it is time to switch over so that mail will be delivered to Office 365. To do this requires changing the MX record for your organization in DNS on the Internet. (Remember, we ensured that its TTL was 1 hour in previous steps.) Go back to the printout of those instructions and enter the value of the MX record that was given to you by Office 365. For more information, see Verify your domain and change name servers at any DNS hosting provider and domain registrar. For guidance on repointing MX records to Office 365, see Change MX Record.

Continue to Part 3: IMAP4 Example 2

Migrating from third-party providers to Office 365 – IMAP4 #2

December 7, 2012 in IT Infrastructure, Technical Documentation

 

Introduction

Part 1: POP3 Example

Part 2: IMAP4 Example 1

 

IMAP4 Mailbox Migration Specifics – Example 2

This email provider, Contoso, supports the IMAP protocol. Using the IMAP protocol allows you to migrate all mailbox folders (not just the Inbox, as with POP3). Also, the provider allows the customer to configure their own address space and subsequently have MX records configured in DNS with their domain registrar to direct incoming email to the provider’s mail server. Also, with this provider it is possible to export the address book of email addresses and mailbox information, and there is a single account with full mailbox access to all mailboxes; consequently, the migration is more automated than in the previous example.

Capability Example 2 IMAP provider
Domain name suffix Customer-specific; for example, contoso.com or treyresearch.com
IMAP migration YES
Admin account with Full Access YES
Export org address book YES
Export Contacts YES
Export Calendar NO, but may be shared privately/publicly for access in Office 365

First, it is necessary to verify the domain name to Microsoft. Let’s assume that the name of the provider is contoso.com, and that our registered domain name is treyresearch.com. To verify the domain name, follow the steps in the previous section, Example 1: IMAP Provider.

Export .csv files of all mailboxes on Contoso

Now that you have verified your domain name with Office 365, the next step is to create a .csv file for creating users and mailboxes on Office 365. I’m going to use some screenshots from Rackspace to illustrate how you can achieve this.


  1. Click Export List (csv). This produces a .csv file, as shown in the following illustration.


  2. Save the .csv file locally.

    It is almost certain that the .csv file will not be in the correct format for importing into Office 365. In this example with Rackspace, I needed to add two extra columns and delete several more, as described below.

  3. Add two columns to the .csv file, with the headers Emailaddress and Password. Enter all users’ email addresses and passwords to be used on Office 365. (This will probably be the same email address they had on Contoso.)
  4. Delete the following columns.

Enabled Home: Street RegisteredAddress
MiddleInitial Home: City RoomNumber
AlternateEmail Home: State Website
LastLogin Home: Zip Organization
UsedStorage Home: Country OfficeNumber
MaxSize OrganizationUnit Address
DepartmentNumber Pager State
Description PersonalTitle Country
TertiaryEmail PhysicalDeliveryOfficeName User ID
EmployeeNumber PostalAddress OrganizationUnit
EmployeeType PostOfficeBox Organization

Import users into Office 365 using a .csv file

Office 365 provides the capability for importing users from a .csv file. For more information, see Import New Exchange Online Users with a CSV File.

  1. In Outlook Web Access, using the administrator account in Office 365, navigate to Manage My Organization, and then under Outlook, click Options and
    select See all Options.
  2. On the Options screen, click Manage Myself and then select My Organization.

  3. On the Mailboxes tab, click Import Users.

  4. On the Import Users screen, browse to the .csv file you created earlier and click Next. The file will be briefly checked and the following screen will be displayed.

  5. Click Import.

Once complete, a mail item will be sent to the Office 365 administrators’ mailbox. If there are any issues with creating users, the mail item will identify them and provide a reason. You may now view the newly created accounts as shown in the following screenshot.

Import mailboxes into Office 365

Create a .csv file

With a migration from Contoso, you have two options for creating the .csv file:

  1. Because Contoso allows you to have a single mailbox that can be enabled to access all mailboxes, you can create a .csv file using the admin account and password to migrate all mailboxes (recommended).
  2. Alternatively, you can create a .csv file listing each mailbox and the user’s password, as in the previous example.

Initially, create a .csv file with just a few ‘test’ mailboxes listed in it to confirm that the format of the .csv file is correct and that mailboxes migrate. This is also a good time to record how long a mailbox takes to migrate, and calculate the GB/hour transfer rate. This figure should be used to calculate the time required for a complete migration. Once a mailbox has been migrated, Office 365 will continue to synchronize the mailbox every 24 hours. Therefore a staged migration is possible, where users continue to use their Rackspace mailboxes until you have migrated all the mail.

Populate mailboxes

To populate the mailboxes with mail, follow the instructions for importing mail from IMAP as detailed in the previous section. For more information, see Increase the Number of Mailboxes to Migrate Simultaneously. If you get any errors, click Open (next to Per User Details). This allows you to view any errors before the migration is complete. Fix any errors and run the batch again. A good batch will migrate three mailboxes at a time, with results something like the following.


Note: My migration times were approximately 1.6GB/hour. Contacts may be exported and created as in the previous section.

Share a calendar

Typically, there is no way to export a calendar from other hosting providers. However, it is often possible to share the calendar publicly.

The calendar URL can be viewed in either Microsoft Office Outlook or Office 365.

Repoint MX Records to Office365

Now it is time to switch over so that mail will be delivered to Office 365. To do this requires changing the MX record for your organization in DNS on the Internet. (Remember, we ensured that its TTL was 1 hour in previous steps.) Go back to the printout of those instructions and enter the value of the MX record that was given to you by Office 365. For more information, see Verify your domain and change name servers at any DNS hosting provider and domain registrar. For information on repointing MX records to Office365, see Change MX Record.

Summary

To summarize, migrating to Office 365 involves performing the following tasks:

  • Register and subscribe to Office 365.
  • Verify your domain name to Office 365, to configure it as an accepted domain.
  • Create users/mailboxes.
  • Migrate the mailbox data, Calendar, and Contacts where possible.
  • Maintain a period of coexistence between the old and new environments.
  • Point the mail exchanger (MX) record to Office 365.
  • Decommission the email provider’s mailboxes.

When migrating from a POP provider, there are two options available: use connected accounts, or export and import using .pst files. When migrating from an IMAP provider, check to see if the provider gives a method for exporting mailbox address information. If so, use a .csv file to create the mailboxes in Office 365; otherwise a manual process is required. Use the IMAP migration tool provided by Office 365 to pull across all mailbox information. In all cases, check to see if the provider allows exporting of contacts and calendars. If they do, follow the instructions in this blog to migrate that data. I hope you find this information useful. Look out for my next blog, which will describe how to migrate into the next version of Exchange Online with Exchange 2013!

Previous sections

Introduction

Part 1: POP3 Example

Part 2: IMAP4 Example 1