Thinking cloud email? Know thyself first

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Thinking cloud email? Know thyself first

[Blog post] FMG CIO explains why it pays to be up-to-date.

Organisations that have kept their Exchange and Office environments up-to-date will enjoy a far more seamless migration to the cloud, according to one of the country’s first adopters of Microsoft Office 365.

Vito Forte, CIO at Fortescue Metals, led a team that migrated its first 3000 inboxes from an on-premise Exchange environment to the hosted solution in a two-week sprint.

The process was made easier, he said, because at the backend and frontend FMG had previously invested in the necessary upgrades to be cloud-ready.

“Some versions of Exchange are easier to migrate than others,” Forte said.

The compression improvements in Outlook 2013 over Outlook 2010, for example, gave FMG a “huge improvement in cache performance” which mitigated some of the network performance issues plaguing upgrades in other organisations.

“Outlook 2013 was designed for the cloud, and took into account that users are likely to be on mobile or some other device, whereas earlier versions hadn’t," Forte said.

And while FMG was one step further back on Exchange Server - running Exchange 2007 - the addition of an Exchange 2010 outbound mail gateway helped smooth out the process.

“At that stage, the transition process was still relatively immature. But we still managed with Microsoft’s internal migration tools.”

Being one of the first adopters of Office 365 in Australia - mostly to take advantage of features in Sharepoint 2013 - Forte concedes that there were some minor teething issues, but nothing he felt was too hard for a capable IT department.

“Nothing is perfect when it comes to upgrades, there will be issues,” he said. “Have you ever upgraded Exchange on-prem? That's why people never upgrade! Because it's a nightmare. Because it's such a pain to do.”

“The answer is simple, really. If you’re not updating your technology, somewhere along the way you'll pay for it. You can take a view that you're on a treadmill and decide not to keep up to date, or you can invest in future capability.”

Shifting email to the cloud removes that treadmill for the foreseeable future, he said, citing FMG's 'relatively easy' move from Wave 14 to Wave 15 of Office 365. He took advantage of Microsoft’s staged mailbox size limit increases, which have gone from 1GB to 25GB and now 50GB.

Asked for advice for those considering migration, Forte recommended organisations come to grips with their existing usage patterns before considering their target state.

“What tends to catch people out is when mailboxes are larger than they think, or when they forget to consider things like public folders," he said.

“You need to have a good understanding of the environment.”

Stay tuned for more 'Cloud Crossroads' case studies over the coming week or register for our final report.

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Brett Winterford

One of Australia’s most experienced technology journalists, former iTnews Group Editor Brett Winterford has written about the business of technology for 15 years.

Awarded Business Journalist and Technology Journalist of the year at the 2004 ITjourno awards and Editor of the Year at the 2009 Publishers Australia 'Bell' awards, Winterford has extensive experience in both the business and technology press, writing for such publications as the Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald.

As editor of iTnews Brett has led a team of award-winning journalists; delivered speeches at industry events; authored, commissioned and edited research papers, curated technology conferences [The iTnews Executive Summit and Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit and also shares the judging of the annual Benchmark Awards.

Brett's areas of specialty include enterprise software, cloud computing and IT services.

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