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5/15/2013
05:45 PM
Larry Seltzer
Larry Seltzer
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Google Apps To Microsoft Office 365: 10 Lessons

Switching from Google Apps to Microsoft Office 365, you will find good and bad surprises. But overall, Microsoft's Web apps make the migration worthwhile.
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There are lots of automated tools for migrating data from Google Apps to Office 365, including Dell's Quest OnDemand Migration for Email and Agile IT's AgileAscend. You should consider using one of these products -- even if you're switching over just a few users like I was -- or it will just take too long.

Thinking way too much of my own skills, I assumed that the process would be time-consuming but not all that challenging. The migration took me more than two days -- although I was working on other things at the same time – and I'm still cleaning up small problems it caused.

If you look up migration techniques on the Internet you'll see a lot of bad advice, mostly about using IMAP. Fortunately, you'll have to go this route only if you're one of the grandfathered-in free Google Apps users. If you're a Google Apps for Business customer, you have Exchange ActiveSync support for access to your calendars, contacts and email, and this is the secret to a much more straightforward migration. If you haven't been using Google Apps Migration For Microsoft Outlook and Google Apps Sync For Microsoft Outlook to access your Google Apps email, calendar and contacts, now is the time to set it up.

There are two ways to proceed: In Outlook, export all the data from each account to a PST file. Then, after connecting to your Office 365 account, import the PST file. The second way is to connect to both the Google and Microsoft accounts from the same instance of Outlook and drag and drop the content from the former to the latter.

It sounds so simple, and eventually it worked, but it wasn't as easy as it sounded. First, I tried the second, drag-and-drop method. But I was dealing with some very large accounts with many gigabytes of data, and Outlook was not up to the task. I don't know what caused it, but whenever I tried either drag and drop or copy and paste, Outlook would become unresponsive. It might have been that the migration was actually being performed and only the UI was unresponsive, and that if I left it for many hours it would complete, but I decided that wasn't a reasonable use of my time.

The other method worked better, although Outlook also dislikes very large PSTs and becomes unresponsive when importing them. I got better results by creating partial PSTs -- just the calendar, just the contacts, and different parts of the email -- and importing them one at a time.

The main problem I was left with -- and this is a common problem -- is duplicate entries in the contacts. No matter how often you tell the import program not to import duplicates it does it anyway (pictured).

RECOMMENDED READING:

Skykick Tackles Microsoft Office 365 Migration Headaches

Microsoft Office 365 Steps On Google Enterprise Ambitions

Microsoft Office 365: How One Company Saves Big

9 Google Apps Security Secrets For Business

Google Apps Service Restored

National Archives Picks Google Apps For Government

6 Ways To Strengthen Web App Security

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AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/17/2013 | 5:10:12 AM
re: Google Apps To Microsoft Office 365: 10 Lessons
Hi Larry,
Great article and thanks for sharing your experience. I too ran into the same problem that you did early on in my learning of how to migrate users to Office 365. Namely the issue where your email address is in use as both a Windows account and as an Office365 email address. Before setting up my own Office365 subscription, I had my custom Domain hosted at a major ISP. My email address had been in use for years and I intended to keep using it once I migrated my custom Domain to Office365. I also happened to have had a Microsoft account that was setup using this same email address. This presented the problem you highlighted because Office365 setup using my custom Domain created a new O365 account with that same email address as well. The Office 365 account is completely different from the Microsoft account and will cause confusion to many users who are unaware of this distinction and its impact on working with the two Microsoft signons for their online services.
Microsoft needs to somehow address this issue because I'll bet it comes up often.
Other than that, I am glad you like Office 365. It has turned out to be one of the best products that Microsoft has created and it is only getting better.
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