After completing the technical work to migrate a legacy Exchange Server platform to Exchange Online, your work will continue but in different ways.
While some of the work associated with maintaining an on-premises platform is no longer relevant, such as patching, you will have to adapt and learn how to handle areas of backups, security and compliance. As the manager of this system, you will also have to get users familiar with the new email platform. You should also consider how to train users, which can reduce help desk tickets and optimize the Exchange Online platform to make the most of your organization's investment.
Exchange Online post-migration steps to consider
You've done the hard work to move from your Exchange Server platform. But it's imperative to follow the process through to the end and verify that all aspects the migration are complete. Perform checks to see that Exchange Online functions as expected. For example, the Exchange admin center provides mail flow statistics and gives insights to check on certain configurations that might cause issues.
Complete the documentation portion, then archive or dispose of any unneeded project data. This project is valuable as a learning process, so take the time to execute a post-migration analysis. Look back at the objectives, and measure the outcomes against the success criteria you set at the start. Your post-migration review will identify lessons learned and highlight areas of improvement that can make future initiatives less troublesome. Share the results with the project stakeholders.
Engage with your users
Notify your users when your move to Exchange Online concludes. It's always a good practice to thank them for their cooperation and patience. Despite all best efforts, a migration is not always a smooth experience. Your users will have problems and concerns you need to address as they get familiar with the Exchange Online email platform.
One way to encourage interaction and handle training is to appoint departmental champions that colleagues can turn to when they have questions. This builds camaraderie among coworkers and diverts smaller issues away from the IT support team. You can also provide FAQs and online resources for self-service support.
Aside from training how to use the email platform, you should also hold security awareness instructions. The key to protecting the organization starts with the people who use Exchange Online, and this coaching can keep everyone aware of modern phishing techniques and how to avoid them.
Fine-tune the Exchange Online platform in key areas
It's important to ensure the Exchange Online environment runs smoothly and meets the needs of your users.
If you are still in the decommissioning stage with the on-premises Exchange systems, ensure that this is done in a timely and appropriate manner. This may involve tasks such as migrating any remaining mailboxes or data, archiving data for compliance purposes, and decommissioning servers and other hardware.
Be sure to have a backup and disaster recovery plan for Exchange Online, in case of data loss or other unexpected events. This may involve setting up regular backups, testing the restore process and creating a disaster recovery plan. Microsoft provides backup and recovery services as part of the platform, but many organizations choose to supplement this with third-party and/or on-premises backups.
Periodically review and optimize Exchange Online to keep up with the functionality your organization needs. You can evaluate usage patterns, identify areas for improvement, and adjust policies or configurations as needed.
Overall, managing an Exchange Online platform is typically less complex and requires less maintenance and management than managing an Exchange Server environment. However, it's important to still manage user accounts, policies and configurations in Exchange Online to make proper adjustments as well as provide a secure and compliant environment.
Handle day-to-day operations management and administration
Regular management and administration of Exchange Online involves tasks to ensure that the service is running smoothly and providing the essential services. These can be done through a combination of your Exchange Management Server, the Office 365 admin center and the Exchange Online admin console.
You should learn about the common activities to manage the platform:
- Directory synchronization. Sync changes in your local Active Directory with Azure Active Directory via Azure AD Connect.
- User and mailbox management. Manage user accounts and mailboxes, including creating and deleting accounts, managing permissions, and resetting passwords.
- Email protection and security. Monitor and manage email security and protection settings, such as spam filtering, malware protection and data loss prevention policies.
- Monitoring and reporting. Check Exchange Online for issues or anomalies as well as generate reports on mailbox usage, performance and other metrics.
- Use archive mailboxes. To avoid using Personal Storage Table files, Exchange Online provides an archiving mailbox for each mailbox to store older data on cheaper storage.
- Mobile device management. Manage mobile device access to Exchange Online by enforcing security policies and using remote wipes if necessary.
- Training and support. Help end users configure the email client, troubleshoot issues and manage their mailboxes.
Stay updated to keep Exchange Online relevant
As a cloud service, Exchange Online continues to evolve. As the administrator of the email platform, you must make several considerations when you plan the organization's Exchange Online strategies:
- Continued security and compliance enhancements. The big impetus for many organizations to move to the cloud is security. Organizations can expect ongoing enhancements and added functionality in the security and compliance areas of Exchange Online, such as data loss prevention policies.
- Integration with other Microsoft services. Exchange Online is part of the broader Microsoft 365 ecosystem. Microsoft will continue to expand the integration and interoperability with other Microsoft services, particularly Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online and OneDrive.
- Up-to-date Exchange Management Shell. Exchange 2010 hybrid configurations work with Exchange Management Shell versions up to Exchange 2016. Once you have removed the legacy Exchange Server on-premises servers, you should follow Microsoft's advice to customers: upgrade the management server to Exchange 2019.
- Advancements in AI and machine learning. Microsoft is investing heavily in AI and machine learning, and Exchange Online will benefit from these advancements. For example, Microsoft introduced features that prompt users to send a follow-up message or start a task based on certain criteria in an email.
- Continued focus on user experience. Microsoft should continue to improve the user experience of Exchange Online with expected improvements in performance, usability and accessibility.
By keeping these future considerations in mind, you can help your organization by staying current with Microsoft's roadmap for Exchange Online to keep the messaging platform relevant and effective for the end user.