Does the Removalist Truck Matter?

An Office 365 migration is analogous to moving house. In both scenarios you prefer to hire experts to do the packing, heavy lifting and unpacking for you. Although moving houses can be complicated, an archive migration shouldn’t be.

When buying a new house there are a lot of things to consider: The contract, settlement, insurances, the logistics and, of course, the moving of your most valued possessions. The kind of truck your removalists select is usually the least of your worries.

Archive migration works largely the same way where an organisation’s most valued possession – its email data – needs to be moved and, like the truck when moving house, the middleware tool selected really doesn’t matter.

More important is the selection of a removalist that will ensure that the data from your old archive is transferred to its new place intact, unchanged, unbroken and without getting lost along the way. The selection of an organisation that can deliver an itemised list that records everything that was migrated from your old system to its new location successfully.  All you should have to do is delegate by pointing things out to ensure all your items are stored in the right folders or archives.

A good removalist might ask how many rooms you have, which of your valuables are fragile, or if certain things need to be kept cool while moving. We’ll ask you the same of your business information as all of these qualifiers will help determine the right method to complete the move. We’ll even determine how things need to be laid out in order to fit into your new house. Ideally, this should happen overnight while you’re sleeping in a hotel so that you can come in the next day and continue business as usual.

*Note: If you actually need to stay in a hotel during an archive migration, something has gone very, very wrong.

We’ll select the right tools based on your technical and commercial requirements. And while a lot of companies would charge for an assessment up-front, we do it as part of the pre-sales process to ensure that we have collected the right information so that when we scope the work, we provide the correct solution for you.

Insentra partners with 6 different archive migration vendors including Akaibu, Archive360, Globanet, Nuix, QUADROtech and TransVault, two of which awarded us International Partner of the Year. We have completed more than 100 archive migrations and have stellar references should you like to hear what our previous clients have to say about us and the process.

If you’re ready to migrate, get in touch with us, we’ll organise a time to come down and walk you through everything you need for a stress-free, hassle free migration.

Simon Alit > Data Migrations specialist

Simon Altit

Director – EMEA

 

AU

UK

E

+61 433 232 349

+44 7403 599 817

simon.altit@insentra.co.uk

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5 Steps to ACE your Archive Migration

Undertaking any type of migration can be a daunting and possibly costly venture for your business. Follow these five steps to help you on the way to a smooth journey.

1. Know where you’re coming from, and where you’re going

It’s crucial to have an in-depth understanding of your legacy archive environment. How far does the archive go back? What types of data did it capture (i.e. emails, calendar appointments, attachments etc.)? What types of metadata did it capture? How much of this data do you need to transfer?

This information will provide insight into what data you will be migrating and whether your archive infrastructure will be able to accommodate the extraction process. Understand also your target environment. Will it be cloud, or on-premises? What types of data formats will it accept and what is its maximum rate of ingestion.

2. Assessing the particulars

Conducting an adequate pre-project assessment isn’t just a good idea, it’s a must if you want to effect a successful migration. It should provide you with a detailed picture of how much data exists in your archive, whether there is data – junk, perhaps – that can be discarded rather than migrated, and whether there are PSTs to include.

Crucially, a pre-project assessment will provide insight into any legal and compliance risks that may present including whether chain-of- custody needs to be maintained (see box-out). Other questions it should resolve is the overall approach – i.e, manual or automated migration, project costs and timeframes.

3. Choosing your migration pathway

There are a number of different options when considering an archive migration, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

  • Parallel Systems and No Migration: A parallel process that keeps both old and new systems running concurrently allowing the old archived data to be expired over time and not migrated.
  • Benefits: the new archive is available as soon as possible at minimum expense and the legacy archive is accessible and can be quickly reverted to in the event of problems.
  • Downsides: End-users have two systems to search for content, existing shortcuts will not always work, and ongoing support and maintenance costs with maintaining the legacy system.
  • Selective Migration: Also known as a partial migration. A smaller group or subset of data is migrated rather than the entire archive.
  • Benefits: The ability to minimise the volume of data being migrated, reducing costs and enabling end users to access their data from a single location.
  • Downsides: To access ALL the data, two locations will still need to be referenced.
  • Full Migration: All legacy data is migrated using a phased approach and the old system is decommissioned following verification of the migration.
  • Benefits: Old platform can be decommissioned and all data is located in a single place.
  • Downsides: Change for the organisation, upfront costs.

4. Plan the work, work the plan

Once there is a basic understanding of the task ahead, it’s time to formulate an overview of what should happen, when, and who is responsible for its implementation. It should also feature a realistic breakdown of the estimated resources needed and a clear statement of purpose around why the migration is being undertaken.

Solicit advice from your compliance department and integrate their recommendations into your plan. Additionally, ensure that you communicate that plan to all parties likely to be affected to ensure everyone has a clear picture of what to expect, when to expect it and who to contact should the unexpected occur.

5. Cover your bases with a recovery plan

Finally, have a robust contingency plan, should a problem emerge that cannot be readily addressed. Not having an option to roll-back to a reliable ‘known state’ could prove costly and incredibly disruptive for your end-users.

Get in touch with Insentra today for more info on how to complete a smooth migration!

 

Simon Alit > Data Migrations specialist

 Simon Altit

Director – EMEA

 

AU

UK

E

+61 433 232 349

+44 7403 599 817

simon.altit@insentra.co.uk

 

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7 Things to be Aware of in a DIY Migration

We live in a DIY world where Google, YouTube and their cohorts turn us into authorities.  We can now perform tasks we would previously have paid an expert to handle. How often have you tried this DIY approach and then had to call in the expert? Ever tried it with an Email Archive Migration? There are indeed some use cases where this approach is OK although they are very few and far between.

You might think that doing an archive migration yourself will save your company time and money. Install the third party tool and away you go.

Consider this:

  1. Knowledge: Organisations seldom have archive migration specialists as a part of their everyday IT team – there are probably less than 100 people on the planet with these specialist skills. Not having the right knowledge to deliver the right outcome is detrimental.
  1. Not understanding where you’re coming from or where you’re going to: Like most things, the devil is in the detail.  A transformation project like an archive migration is more difficult because inexperience has it that people don’t know what they need to do in order to successfully shift the data in the right way.
  1. Data loss: If you don’t have a well-defined methodology and processes there is no way to guarantee that you’ve migrated all data. Worse… you won’t know until it’s too late.
  1. Time: Inexperience leads to lengthy project times while your team learn to do something that you are likely to only every do once.
  1. Cost: Not knowing how long a migration will take means not knowing how many resources you will need. Five years later you could still be in the beginning stage of your migration and have spent tens of thousands (this is a true story).
  1. User experience and internal infrastructure: A piece of software to perform a migration does not tell you how have a fantastic user experience or how to ensure little impact to your environment.
  1. Compliance: If you need a compliant based migration of data, the legal ramifications of this being done incorrectly can have the potential to cripple your company. The smallest mistake could result in the largest problem trouble for your company.

Put away your migrations for dummies books (yes this really happened) and come and talk to Insentra today. We can help you avoid these pitfalls and give you the guidance you need to get the best outcome – a well-managed migration of your critical data.

Simon Alit > Data Migrations specialist

Simon Altit

Director – EMEA

 

AU

UK

E

+61 433 232 349

+44 7403 599 817

simon.altit@insentra.co.uk

BEFORE, DURING or AFTER. When should an email archive be moved?

Many companies are considering their cloud based email strategy – be it on premises, private cloud or public cloud and Microsoft is certainly ahead of the pack with the Office365 live mail offering.  The good news is there are a vast array of IT companies skilled in providing migrations of live mail to Office365 however, the bad is that not many are skilled in best practices for archive migrations.

This lack of knowledge often manifests itself in advice being provided, varying from “manually export the data” and “don’t worry about the archive until after primary mail is complete” to “let the data expire and don’t bother migrating”.  Sometimes this advice is appropriate however, in the vast majority of cases, these options create enormous headaches when a project commences. We have had countless examples of customers who have planned, budgeted and about to start the live mail migration only to find either the archive has not been adequately considered or that the approach they thought would work is not feasible.

We have explored the “Manual or Automated” in more detail [download id=”2416″]. What we are yet to explore is the order of a migration. Once the approach (manual or automated) has been determined, here are some very good rules of thumb that can be used (of course assuming you are licensed for the online archive):

Exchange 2010 and above Sources in Hybrid mode

If the source is Exchange 2010 or greater AND the environment will be in “hybrid mode”, archive migration should be done BEFORE the primary mailbox migration.  Hybrid allows for the pre-provisioning of the online archive target in O365, enabling the archive to move independently of the live mailbox, taking them out of the critical path. Archives can be migrated first with the online archive being made available to the user and then, on the night of the live mailbox move, the archive can be synchronised.  This approach provides the least user impact.

Exchange 2007 or below

In these scenarios, a third party tool of sorts is often used to facilitate the “co-existence”. In these scenarios, the archive needs to be moved DURING the live mailbox as there is no way to pre provision an online archive.  Therefore, the live mail needs to be moved and the archive immediately thereafter. Sometimes if the volume of data in the archive is excessive, 3 or 6 months of archives are moved immediately following the live mailbox and the balance of messages are trickled in over the subsequent days.  In all cases, when the user logs in after their mailbox migration, they will have access to some or all of their archives.

In both of these scenarios, the user archives are moved either before or during the live mailbox migration and happen as a part of the mail migration project. In no circumstance are they moved AFTER live mail as doing so would deliver a terrible user experience such as shortcuts broken, mail not being able to be found, mail needing to be searched in multiple locations and more.

Other approaches need to be taken when the source mail platform is Notes however the same principles apply. If you are concerned about user experience, the archive must be dealt with as a part of the live mail project and should not be seen as an after-thought or as a separate project. If for some reason user experience doesn’t matter (and would you believe we have had clients who did not care about the impact to the users!) then you would be right in taking the advice that says “we will deal with it later”.

The only archive that could or should be moved “after” the primary mailbox migration is a journal archive as this has little to no impact on the user experience.

Watch out for our blog on PST Files, and if they are still relevant.

Simon Alit > Data Migrations specialist

Simon Altit

Director – EMEA

AU

UK

E

+61 433 232 349

+44 7403 599 817

simon.altit@insentra.co.uk

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Don’t get stuck in the manual migration abyss

Many archive platforms provide a set of native utilities that allow some form of export and import of messages via PST, EML or MSG files. These inbuilt toolsets have given even the most competent IT managers a feeling of empowerment which unfortunately is very short lived. We regularly get asked by our customers “why shouldn’t we use the native tools to complete our migration?”. Depending on the environment, the reasons are many and varied. From slow performance and the inherent stability issues with large PSTs, to poor user experience and the risks of human error. However the real problems stem from a few of the never ending processes that these customers will generally find themselves in. More on this later.

First let’s squash the idea that EML or MSG is viable way to migrate. Unless you are doing a migration of a journal mailbox, using either of these targets to complete your migration will likely cause your users a lot of issues. When these items are exported, folder structure will not be retained which means that once this mail is finally in your new system, users will not be able to find their emails in the location they would have expected. If in fact an export of the journal archive is being performed, fields like BCC and other memberships of distribution lists will be lost (also the case when exporting to PST).

The key issues you will face when trying to export and import PSTs using the native utilities are;

  • Large PST files are often required due to large source archives. Such files are prone to corruption
  • PSTs are space-inefficient
  • PST extraction with native tools is VERY slow
  • Needs constant monitoring
  • No error management
  • Loss of important compliance data (e.g. BCC fields)
  • No auditing or chain of custody
  • No ability to handle shortcuts

If none of the above points are a concern and you still wish to proceed then we should circle back to those never ending tasks.

Exporting the data to PST

I’m sure, like most businesses, your archive has probably been around for a few years, has had a couple of minor issues and gone through a upgrade or two.  Chances are that there will be corruptions in your archive (interesting blog about silent data corruption). This isn’t necessarily a big issue, except that your archive wasn’t designed to deal with data corruptions and, when it is trying to export the corrupted emails to PST with its native tools, it’s going to fail. Logic dictates that it will try and process the corrupted item and when it can’t it will move onto the next one. Invariably not. This logic seems to fall over with pretty much every archive platform we have worked with. What will happen is that you are going to find yourself tracking down this corrupt item and then trying to find a resolution. In all likelihood, the item is corrupt and there is nothing you can do. If you are lucky enough, you will be able to remove the corrupted item and get your archive platform to reindex the data you can start again. Just be aware you will have to start the export again from the beginning, and chances are this will not be the only corrupt item that you will face, at which point you will repeat the above process again and again and again……….

Importing the PST

Once you have managed to get through the export process and you are getting ready for the import, you should take a holiday so that you can come back prepared for the same perpetual issue. In some cases the export process doesn’t do any form of data integrity checking, so when it writes the email to the PST some of those corrupted emails do manage to sneak through. In others, your users archive was so big that when it was exported to a large PST which becomes unstable and subsequently corrupt. As with the export, the native tools for importing generally work on the assumption that the data is clean (not corrupted) and thus there is very little integrity checking, so when those pesky corrupted messages get imported, the process will hang. Not only are the reporting mechanisms poor at assisting you to find which message has caused the hang, they also are terrible at even letting you know that they have hung. Once you have worked out that the process has stopped you have two choices – try and find the message that is causing the problem or run the export and import again and again and again……….

Monitoring

Because of these two frustrating aspects of a manual migration, you will find yourself stuck in a third perpetual task, monitoring. The single biggest bane of any IT admin is manual monitoring, constantly having to log in and check that things are actually occurring as you expect and require. Like Homer Simpson, you are going to find yourself distracted by gadgets and gizmos and you will miss the failures around you.

Now my intention wasn’t to be doomsayer, but rather prepare you (or the poor individual you are going to instruct to do this work) for the constant head banging process that will be undertaken when using native tools for migrations.

Simon Alit > Data Migrations specialist

Simon Altit

Director – EMEA

 

AU

UK

E

+61 433 232 349

+44 7403 599 817

simon.altit@insentra.co.uk

,

Asia Pacific has its first Gold Certified migration services provider

Independent market analyst and global advisor for email and data migrations, Migration Forensics, today announces Insentra as the first Gold Certified migration services provider globally, as a part of their “Use Certified” campaign.

We are thrilled to be the first partner globally to achieve this level of certification. We built our dedicated Migration Services practice over 4 years ago with a focus on delivering best practice based archive migrations and have now migrated over half a petabyte of archives.

Email archives are often called upon in litigation and it is critical that data is migrated in an auditable and defensible manner. This certification through Migration Forensics, Migration Service Provider Certification (MSPC) program endorses our processes and approach. Providing our clients with the confidence that their archived data will be successfully migrated.

Migration Forensics MSPC was designed for migration service providers like ours to demonstrate our ability to perform and follow best of breed practices for security, item integrity, auditing, compliance and performance across all migration processes.

Dan Clark, CEO of Migration Forensics explains that “95% of data migrations have some form of compliance or integrity problem based on a 2013 survey of 20 randomly sampled migrations. In setting up Migration Forensics we wanted to ensure that organisations who require archive data migration services can select a service provider with proven and endorsed capabilities like Insentra. The certification provides organisations with the comfort that they can avoid undetectable data loss, unpredictable projects and maintain data compliance through all stages of the migration process”.

“Insentra is the first service provider to go through our service provider certification process. They have demonstrated outstanding migration capabilities and processes in our rigorous 51-point checklist, successfully achieving our gold level certification.” said Dan Clark, CEO of MigrationForensics.

For more information about Migration Forensics and their certification program, visit http://migrationforensics.com

 

Simon Alit > Data Migrations specialist

Simon Altit

Director – EMEA

 

AU

UK

E

+61 433 232 349

+44 7403 599 817

simon.altit@insentra.co.uk