Why was this article written: As your firm prepares to migrate email platforms from your current provider to Google Apps or Office 365, the sequence of events below should help with your understanding of the process leading up to "Cut-over Day" (the day that the new email system starts receiving and sending emails) and beyond. Note that "SSI" refers to Smart Sourced IT and "CLIENT" refers to your organization.
2-4 Weeks Prior to Cut-Over
- CLIENT will appoint a liaison with whom SSI can communicate until this project is complete.
- CLIENT to confirm new email provider accounts set up and a sufficient number of individual mailbox licenses purchased to accommodate all the mailboxes that will be migrated from the old email system.
- CLIENT to send out email invitations from new email system to its staff.
- CLIENT to confirm that staff have logged into the new mailboxes, and that 2 Step Verification (or 2 Factor Authentication) has been set up by each staff.
- CLIENT provides to SSI access to the admin account for the old and new email systems.
- CLIENT provides administrative access credentials to Domain Hosting Provider OR the company where the DNS Zone File is maintained.
- SSI will download a list of mailboxes from the old email system and confirm with CLIENT that all mailboxes are to be migrated (or which ones are not to be migrated).
- SSI will review the DNS Zone File records and make copies of all existing settings.
1-2 Weeks Prior to Cut-Over
- SSI will preconfigure its migration tools to connect to both of CLIENT's email systems.
- Once preconfiguration is complete, SSI and CLIENT will agree on a migration cutover date. This is the date when the old system will stop processing emails, and where the new system will start doing so.
- CLIENT will communicate with its staff the cutover date/time and the following details:
- Email continues to function normally until the cutover date/time. Staff can continue using their old email accounts as normal (and should not use their new email accounts at all until further advised).
- In their old email accounts, staff should check the names of their email folders and exclude any special characters from those folder names, particularly \ / + & . , @ or !
- Staff will be using the web browser to access their new email system, rather than a mail reader.
- Staff should download the Google Mail app for their mobile devices, rather than configuring the default mail reader on their mobile device.
- On cutover day/time, staff email accounts in the old system will stop receiving mail messages.
- On cutover day/time, staff should not login to or interact with the new email system until advised to do so by CLIENT's liaison and/or SSI.
- CLIENT will communicate to its clients that email is being cutover on date/time and that anything urgent should be communicated by phone during the next 48-72 hours. Why? On cutover day/time, there can be as much as 72 hours where new email messages are not received by CLIENT's users in the new email system, although in the vast majority of cases email will be down for no more than 1-2 hours. Any mail messages sent during that time will usually bounce back to the sender as undeliverable.
Week of Cutover
- 5 Days prior to the cutover, SSI will start an initial migration of email (initial pass) from old system to new. The results of this process will be spot-checked in several mailboxes to confirm success.
- On the morning of cutover day, CLIENT will remind staff that email will not be available starting at the cutover time until the following morning.
- At the cutover time, SSI will reconfigure DNS Zone File records to point to the new email provider, and confirm the propagation of these email records.
- SSI will then conduct a second migration of email to pick up those items that changed since the initial pass.
- SSI will confirm completion of cutover process to CLIENT's liaison, who will advise CLIENT's staff that the new email system is ready to use.
- On the morning of the first business day following cutover, SSI and CLIENT liaison will conference with CLIENT's staff in groups of 2-4 at a time, for 30 minutes per session, to highlight the key features of the new system and answer questions.
- The above process does not address the migration of contacts or calendars. Unless agreed in writing between SSI and CLIENT, this process is excluded from the migration.
- Migrating contacts is relatively easy, however, and involves the CLIENT exporting their existing contacts list from their computer to a VCARD format, and importing that VCARD file to Google Contacts (contacts.google.com). More details here, under Import Contacts -> From File.
- Migrating calendars is similarly easy, although recurring appointments are not always captured during migrations and may need to be recreated. Existing calendars can be exported to VCAL files, and imported to Google Calendar. More details here.
- The migration process will only copy messages that exist on the old email servers to the new email servers. It will not copy messages that an end user has stored in a mail reader application on the computer only (example: an Archives folder stored inside of a program like Mac Mail or Windows Mail). For such a situation, the new email system will need to be configured in the email reader, and the end user will need to manual drag and drop the affected files to the new email system.
- Once the end user has completed the manual migration of emails from their email reader to the new email system, they will then disconnect their new email system from the email reader and return to using the new email system's web browser.
- Some emails will not make the cutover for inexplicable reasons; in our experience less than 0.01% of emails don't make the cutover. SSI will have a report to share with CLIENT of all the messages that failed migration.
- Google Mail is built to be used in a web browser, and the capabilities of Google Mail are not all available when experienced outside a web browser. SSI's support of this migration extends to the web browser experience. We are happy to discuss non-browser configurations, although these discussions are billed at SSI's hourly rate.
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