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Email Migration – To Switch Or Not To Switch?

Updated on April 27, 2014


Many people are misled to believe that transferring their email to the cloud is a hassle; however cloud based email migration is not as difficult or tedious as it seems. As a matter of fact, email happens to be one of the easiest things of all to transfer to the cloud. Another factor that makes people hesitant to move their email to the cloud is because they would then need to deal with a third party, such as Google, IBM, Yahoo or Microsoft.

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Considerations Of Cloud Based Email Migration

Forrester Research conducted a survey of 934 enterprise IT and SMB decision-makers for a report. Half of those surveyed said that hosted email was something they were not interested in. However, Forester notes that companies are feeling the pressure to reduce their costs, and that moving aspects to the cloud helps to encourage this reduction. Of 51% of the respondents still using their regular email accounts, 46% are planning to make the email transfer to the cloud, or at least considering cloud based email migration.

Why People & Businesses are Reluctant

Making the decision to move to cloud-hosted e-mail services makes people anxious, but it just takes some planning and excellent correspondence with your hosting service, it can be an amazingly simple transition. While it would seem obvious that the major concern about making the cloud based email migration transition would be due to security, most individuals and businesses are actually worried about the implementation. Especially when you think about the sheer number of emails and email accounts that need to be transferred, which could be in the hundreds, thousands and millions, depending on how many employee email accounts are being migrated.

Making the Decision to Switch to Cloud Based Email

The decision to switch to a cloud-based email provider, even if the service is free, is a huge decision for anyone. In a large business, the people who are not yet persuaded that the transfer is a positive and forward-moving change will need to be convinced that the maintenance is going to be just as easy, the performance is going to be the same, if not better, and the security is going to be top-notch. Next, the business needs to establish a solid migration plan and put it into motion.

Keeping Everything Intact

For the cloud based email migration from the internal email system that you already have in place to the cloud to be successful, all of the current user accounts need to be transferred intact. This includes not only the user and password information, but also each and every mail folder that currently exists. Timestamps for every single email message will also have to be preserved. To call a cloud based email migration successful, users should not be able to notice any differences in their emails after the conversion.

How Is This Done?

Once all of the planning for the cloud based email migration is complete and the company is ready to make the change, they can expect four basic steps to occur. Here are the steps to expect:

1) Determine the amount of time the migration will require.

2) User accounts should be combined into a bulk set that will be simple to upload to the new provider.

3) In the DNS, MX records will need to be altered and aimed to the cloud based email service provider.

4) Finally, the transfer occurs.

Determining the Migration Time Table

Calculating the amount of time that the email migration will take is crucial and fairly complex. There are so many factors that need to be taken into consideration. For example, you need to let employees know when you are planning to conduct the transfer. If people are using the old email service when the transfer occurs, any emails that they send could be left out of the transfer. By calculating how long the transfer will take and setting an exact time when it should end, people will know exactly when they should start utilizing the cloud based email system.

Here is a good method to estimate how long you can expect it to take for the transfer: Let’s say you have about 5,000 email accounts, each one of the accounts averages about 1GB, and the email service permits you to have 100 accounts in each batch. If you estimate that each batch transfer will take about one hour, the total transfer should take about 50 hours. The best way to ensure that the entire transfer goes smoothly; you can ban everyone from accessing the email system while the transfer is occurring.

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Benefits Of Cloud Based Email Migration

There is a long list of great benefits regarding cloud based email, as opposed to on-site email systems. First of all, the on-site email system and the infrastructure that goes along with it can be totally eliminated, which could save any institution a lot of money, even if a business is paying for the cloud based email services (most are free). Backups for email servers can be eliminated with cloud based email, the time that is provided for email support can be reduced or eliminated, and businesses no longer have to worry about server-based anti-virus programs, products for filtering emails, and anti-spam programs.

Users and businesses who have already been through the cloud based email migration have noticed less phishing and spam problems. Up-time has been a complaint that many people have voiced about cloud based email; however it seems that cloud based email providers have been working hard to fix downtime issues to satisfy users and squelch the complaints that they have heard about their services. Ultimately, once people have move past the initial fears and worries about cloud based email migration, they find that the benefits override the issues and concerns that they had prior to the switch. The cost alone, which could be little to none, besides the initial cost of transferring all of the email accounts over to the cloud, is considerably less than any on-site email system.


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