Love or hate it, Office 365 is here to stay. For most companies that have not made the transition to the Office 365 yet, I say yet because it is a matter of time before the majority of business are running email in the cloud. When you are planning to move email to the cloud there are many considerations to make and one of them is your network.
Your network is key when you want to live in the cloud. One of the first things you should do after you’ve made decision to go to the cloud is review your network and estimate how much bandwidth you will use. Office 365 adds increased usage because of the synchronization outlook and downloading of templates. The amount of users connecting to the cloud and type of tasks they do will impact your bandwidth. Network performance is impacted by what the users are doing, for instance if everyone is streaming video or having multiple video conference calls on your network that will certainly cause high bandwidth which can impact your connectivity to cloud services.
Migrating to Office is not an overnight task as some may think. It can take week to months to be completely migrated to the cloud and a lot of this depends on your network. It is highly recommended to test and validate your internet bandwidth as this will impact your migration. Mailbox sizes will impact how fast or slow the migration to the cloud will be. Let’s say your organization has about 100TB emails in your on-premise environment and you want to migrate all that to the cloud. I will tell you it will not help happen in days it will be more like months. Keep in mind Microsoft does throttle how much date you pump into their network each night. Let’s just say you are using an internet connection of 100Mbit/s and you are at 100% speed you are looking at least 8-9 months but given that there is throttling involved and possibly other outside factors that would also effect the speed and bandwidth your real estimate would likely be closer to 10-12 months.
Slow internet means slow migration and possible failures along the way. If your still have slow MPLS sites these are not ideal for Office 365, however Microsoft has partner with a select few providers to use the ExpressRoute. ExpressRoute is a private connectivity to Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft has some tools that you can use to help estimate your network requirements. One of the important ones to look at is the Exchange Client Network Bandwidth Calculator which estimates the bandwidth required for Outlook, Outlook Web App, and mobile devices.
Once you have made it to the cloud it does not stop there. Ongoing performance tuning maybe needed to ensure that your users are happy and do not experience email “slowness”. Given that Microsoft has published best practices articles on slow networks for Office 365 I am pretty sure your network guys will be called a lot to check network performance. They do give some recommendations such as:
- Upgrade to Outlook 2013 SP1 or later for substantial performance improvements over previous versions.
- Outlook Web App lets you create offline messages, contacts, and calendar events that are uploaded when OWA is next able to connect to Office 365.
- Outlook also offers an offline mode. To use this, you must first set up cached mode so that information from your account is copied down to your computer. In offline mode, Outlook will try to connect using the send and receive settings, or when you manually set it to work online.
- If you have a smart phone, you can use it to triage your email and calendar over your phone carrier's network. ( yes this as a real alternative…)
At the end of the day it comes to making sure your network is up to snuff when you are making your way to the cloud or you may have some headaches. Good Luck