Office 365 serves a wide spectrum of organizations. Many are very small, some belong to government agencies, and some are used by large enterprises. And in the enterprise space, mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures are common events. Companies transform themselves to meet new business challenges, take advantage of the opportunity, or exit businesses that no longer match their strategy. If an enterprise uses Office 365, they need to understand how to transform IT to match the changing shape of the business.
When Microsoft launched Office 365 in June 2011, it was a very different and much simpler beast. Two mildly “cloudified” version of server products (Exchange and SharePoint) came together under a wrapper of cloud infrastructure. Few tenants used Lync, reflecting the difficulty of moving voice communications to the cloud at that point.
The two basic workloads operated in their own space, but in truth, Exchange was the only game in town in the early days of Office 365. Migration was a matter of moving mailboxes to the cloud, and a combination of Microsoft and third-party tools were available to solve the problem. Things were more difficult for SharePoint because many on-premises installations were customized, and the SharePoint migration toolset wasn’t as mature.
Over time, Office 365 has become more complex. Several contributory factors influenced the shape of Office 365 today.
The old approaches to migration still work if you want to move data into Office 365. A new approach is needed to deal with larger data volumes, more applications, and the interconnectivity we see inside Office 365 if you want to:
Tools exist to help, such as Cloud Commander, but the nature of corporate mergers and acquisitions is that these exercises are complex and extended and involve lots of external consultants to handle legal and technology issues. Because businesses differ, their Office 365 tenants differ, so it’s hard for any off-the-shelf migration products to automate more than basic processing, like moving mailboxes and documents around. The net is that mergers and acquisition projects often involve lots of hand-built code and increased expense
Mergers and acquisitions won’t go away. Companies won’t stop evolving, flexing, dividing, and joining. As long as we have Office 365, the need to transform, merge, and split tenants will exist. The challenge for those developing migration technology is to embrace the change in Office 365 complexity and volume to automate as much as possible and make it easy (and less expensive) for companies to change their shape.