Overview of Office 365 Migrations

There are three main migration approaches used to get existing mailboxes into Office 365:

  1. Cutover Exchange migration - used when the desired outcome is to have the entire on-premise Exchange moved into the cloud.
  2. Staged Exchange migration - used when you want to move groups of mailboxes over time and possibly keep some mailboxes on-premise (also called a "Hybrid Deployment").
  3. IMAP e-mail migration - used when migration from an IMAP-based messaging system.
More information about the three options is available in the Exchange Online Help Article: E-Mail Migration Overview.  All of these migration approaches are supported by the migration tools that come built-in with Office 365.

Additionally, there is a pay-per-use tool called MigrationWiz, that can help to automate migrations from: 
  • Google Apps/Gmail
  • IBM Lotus Notes
  • IMAP
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Novell GroupWise
  • Office 365 (e.g. moving from a P1 plan to an E-plan)
  • POP
  • VMWare Zimbra

The cost will vary depending on the type of migration you choose, see the MigrationWiz site for more information.

There is also a less commonly used method called a "file export/import migration" where e-mails are exported to a file (e.g. a PST file) and then imported into the Office 365 mailbox.  This method isn't recommended because it can cause issues with replying to e-mails due to addressing information being stored in the e-mail headers (not seen by users) that is not corrected by this method.  The tools used to support the four methods above fix this issue in the e-mails they migrate.

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