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The thought of switching a large (or even small) business's e-mail to hosted providers like Google or Microsoft often meets with a lot of resistance. You might think security would rank as the number one concern, but in practice the big show stopper usually ends up being implementation. Moving millions of old e-mail messages and thousands of accounts is a daunting task.
Migrating all of your existing e-mail doesn't have to be difficult. The big three providers, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, all provide many options to help alleviate the pain associated with moving an entire company's e-mail infrastructure.
The decision to outsource e-mail, even to a free provider, is a big one. Once all the naysayers have been satisfied with regards to performance, security, and maintenance, the next big step is to devise a migration mechanism that won't break and allow for anyone to question the decision.
To create a seamless migration from your local mail storage to the cloud, user accounts must be moved in-tact. It's more than just the account (user and password), however. Every single mail folder must be migrated, and message timestamps need to be preserved. In short, users should not be able to detect that anything has changed.
The savings of not running 50 or more servers won't be realized if account migration and routine maintenance tasks aren't carefully considered. The big providers have APIs for creating, deleting, and generally adjusting user accounts. Most organizations have identity management systems that create accounts on various systems, including e-mail servers. Before making the big switch, make sure to extend these automation tools to begin managing e-mail users via the new provider's API.
There are four basic steps, once all the planning and other tasks mentioned above are complete. They are:
- Calculate how much time the actual transfer of mail boxes will take.
- Create the user accounts in bulk via your new provider's API or bulk upload function.
- Change MX records in DNS to point at your new provider.
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