Tech Partners Update

October 25, 2018

To: Tech Partners mailing list

From: Dan Bowling

Re: Office 365 Project Update

Hello Tech Partners,

I’d like to share with you the presentation that was given at the last Tech Partners meeting regarding Office 365.

Additionally, I’d like to share with you some significant changes to the plan that I previously presented to you.

What is the purpose for changing the rollout plan?

We’ve been monitoring a project risk that the 10-year-old Exchange server hardware may suffer a breakdown that significantly impacts users. The risk management strategy was to accept the risk and monitor it closely over the course of the project.

On 10/11 a hardware failure required a failover to the secondary server. Bringing the primary server back online led to the discovery of a gap in warranty coverage for some parts of the hardware. This triggered a re-assessment of our risk strategy.

Controlling the risk now requires a new response strategy: active mitigation.


What is the change to the project plan?

To mitigate potential service interruption, we are immediately switching to a multi-phase approach to migrating users.


Phase 1: Moving user mailboxes to O365 prior to the NetID identity change.

A hybrid environment will be set up between our local Exchange and O365. Mailboxes for users will be moved up as-is with little to no disruption to the user. After all mailboxes are moved to O365, we will build new Exchange servers in the VMWare environment to handle the remaining services with reliable hardware.

Phase 2: Proceed with original project plan.
We will re-examine the previous plan to ensure continued accuracy and implement the remaining items. Nearly all of the previous project plan will still be directly applicable.

What is the impact of this new multi-phased approach?

We’re still getting details from Microsoft, but here’s what we currently believe are the key impacts related to moving mailboxes to O365 using the hybrid environment (phase 1.)

  • End users will have minimal disruption when their mailbox is moved (they can continue to use email normally)
  • End users will keep their existing domain login (e.g. UM\first.last) during phase 1 – the experience will remain the same to them.
  • Mailbox moves can be batched, permitting targeted communications prior to the migration. We are consulting with our Steering Committee regarding the most appropriate way to perform the batching.
  • An additional benefit to this approach is that it will remove the current project risk of running out of disk space in Exchange because we will be able to offload mailbox storage to Microsoft.
  • The license activation in Office 365 will be for the mailbox only.
  • Users with specialty Microsoft licenses will not be affected by the mailbox move with the exception of 100 users who activated a product in an unusual way. I’ll send out a follow-up communication about these exceptional cases shortly. In brief, they will require specialty handling but will not lose access to any services.


How does this affect the timeline?

The timeline is dependent on obtaining licensing that offers premium support via the Microsoft FastTrack program. If we can obtain FastTrack support, the first accounts will be migrated for testing as soon as two weeks from now and all users will be fully migrated by the end of the year. 

Moving into O365 in a hybrid environment will give us much needed flexibility for the more disruptive change of switching to NetID identities. With the primary project risks handled, our team will be able to be more flexible with the rollout dates than we otherwise would have been able to.

I will provide an updated timeline with more details next week.

How is this going to be communicated out?

This initial communication is going to Tech Partners so that you can be aware prior to us reaching out to the campus user base.

Broad-based communication will start next week after I can make the project site more end-user focused. We will first introduce campus to the broad 365 project goals and timeline, then provide follow-up information regarding the first step of mailbox data moves to the cloud after we find out how the FastTrack support affects our timeline.


More to come as we make progress towards this new goal. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.