A Look at Office 365 Tenant to Tenant Migration Options

When we assess a tenant to tenant migration for Office 365, there are a variety of methods and tools available to us. Depending on the budget and requirements we have during the migration, the tools we use can change drastically. For the key workloads (Exchange, SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive) in Office 365, I have broken down some of the options available and the pros and cons of each. I thought I’d put together the options in a post to help give people a view of what to consider when planning migration. I’ve chosen some third-party tools by name as examples here but there are other tools out there with similar functionality.


Exchange Online

For the migration of Exchange Online Data, there are really two options available, Cross-tenant mailbox migration or third-party mailbox synchronization. The two methods are detailed below and the decision will mainly be driven by commercial cost and tool availability.

Cross-Tenant Mailbox Migration (Preview)

With traditional Exchange Online Migrations, the Mailbox Replication Service (MRS) allowed administrators to perform robust mailbox migration tasks between on-premises Exchange environments and Exchange Online. Previously this functionality was not available for Cross-Tenant migrations. Recently Microsoft have made available the Cross-tenant mailbox migration functionality which uses the MRS migration process previously used in Hybrid Migrations to migrate mailboxes between Exchange Online tenancies.

The process of cross-tenant mailbox migration is detailed in my previous post and on in the Microsoft documentation here and summarized in the below diagram.

Pros

  • Low/No cost
  • Native tools
  • No Third-Party support required

Cons

  • Still a preview feature
  • Tricky to set up (currently)
  • Does not support Public Folders
  • Mailbox moves may not be as flexible as data synchronization used by third-party tools

Note: Generally, I don’t recommend using preview tools in production

Third-Party Mailbox Synchronization Tools

Third-party mailbox synchronization allows the synchronization of mailbox data between two Exchange Online environments using a third-party tool such as BitTitan MigrationWiz. There is a licensing cost associated with each third-party tool, however this cost often covers both OneDrive and Exchange Online data within a single user migration license. MigrationWiz in particular is an industry leader in cloud service migrations and is an extremely flexible tool for migrations of this type.

Rather than moving a mailbox object between tenancies as with the previous option, mailbox data synchronization copies the data within the source mailbox into the new, performing several translations to the migrated email addresses, calendar entries and contacts to make them usable in the new environment. This can still cater for a staged migration over a number of batches and allow for pre-staging of data prior to cutover to reduce the time required for final synchronization during the cutover window.

Details on BitTitan MigrationWiz and costings can be found on the BitTitan website here.

Pros

  • Flexible data synchronization options
  • Supports Multi-Platform source and destination (Exchange, Google etc.)
  • Bundle licensing allows for more that just Exchange Data
  • Easy to set up

Cons

  • Licensing Cost
  • Third-party support required for issues
  • Organizations may not have in-house experience with these tools

OneDrive for Business

As with Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business has multiple options for migration between tenancies. The options available for OneDrive are driven by cost:

Mover

The Microsoft owned, Mover tool allows for a free migration process (Included as part of Office 365 licensing). Mover allows for ingestion of data from multiple sources including OneDrive, SharePoint and Google Drive. It also allows for subsequent “Delta Synchronization” of modified documents, allowing pre-staging of data in the destination tenancy prior to migration.

Mover can be configured in the destination tenancy with a connector linking to the Source environment. A mapping file is provided, matching the source locations to destination OneDrive / SharePoint locations and the synchronization can be managed in batches.

OneDrive Migration • Mover

Pros

  • Low/No cost
  • Easy to set up

Cons

  • Mover does not support Exchange mailbox migrations so a different option must be chosen there and coordinated

Third-Party Tools

Outside of Microsoft’s Mover tool, there may be a justification to use another tool based on decisions made for other application migrations, For example, if Bititan MigrationWiz is selected for Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and/or Microsoft Teams, then the “User migration bundle” licensing will cover OneDrive migrations with minimal extra costs.

Similarly, depending on the SharePoint Online migration option chosen, it may be cost effective to use the ShareGate migration tool to migrate OneDrive data also at no extra cost.

Both of these tools work very similarly to Mover from a OneDrive perspective so the OneDrive migration option is very much driven by decisions made for other application.

Pros

  • Same migration management as other workloads
  • Supports Multi-Platform source and destination (Exchange, Google etc.)
  • Bundle licensing allows for more that just OneDrive Data
  • Additional features available in tools like ShareGate

Cons

  • Licensing cost
  • Organizations may not have in-house experience with these tools

SharePoint Online

SharePoint Online also presents several migration options depending on exact functionality requirement and licensing cost:

Mover

As with OneDrive, SharePoint migrations can be performed without licensing cost by using Mover. The same connectors are used and data is synchronized on-demand between tenancies. And important note for SharePoint Online is that Mover will only migrate Documents and Document Libraries. Any SharePoint site designs, lists etc. will need to be manually recreated on the destination tenancy.

Pros

  • Low/No cost
  • Easy to Setup / Use

Cons

  • Does not support SharePoint site migrations, just document libraries / files
  • Does not support migration of Microsoft Teams other than document libraries

Third-Party Tools: MigrationWiz

Depending on the decision for email migration, MigrationWiz may be the most efficient option to choose as the migration infrastructure will already be in place. As with Mover, MigrationWiz will only migrate Documents and Document Libraries. Any SharePoint site designs, lists etc. will need to be manually recreated on the destination tenancy. There is a per-site cost associated with MigrationWiz outside of the existing User licensing for mail and OneDrive.

Pros

  • Same migration management as other workloads
  • Supports Multi-Platform source and destination (Exchange, Google etc.)
  • Supports Teams / OneDrive migrations

Cons

  • Licensing cost
  • Organizations may not have in-house experience with these tools
  • Does not migrate site structure

Third-Party Tools: ShareGate

Another option for SharePoint Online, OneDrive and Microsoft Teams migrations is ShareGate. ShareGate allows for the same flexibility in migration as Mover and MigrationWiz however, ShareGate will migrate complete SharePoint sites along with site designs, lists, navigation etc. with minimal reconfiguration needed on the destination. ShareGate is also licensed on a per migration server instance basis, allowing for reduced costs for larger numbers.

Pros

  • Full SharePoint Site migrations
  • Licensed per migration server
  • Supports Teams / OneDrive migrations

Cons

  • Requires some SharePoint knowledge to troubleshoot migrations
  • Licensing cost
  • Does not support Exchange Online migrations

Microsoft Teams

A major factor in migrations today is Microsoft Teams. With a lot of organizations just finished rolling out and adopting Teams, along with all the intricacies of a Teams object, migration of Teams becomes critical. There are a few options available to us for this taks:

Note: There are limitations for Microsoft Teams migrations which are detailed on the website of each tool however the most prominent limitation is that private chat (messages outside of Teams Channels) cannot be migrated. The only messages that can be moved are those within a channel.

Mover

As with OneDrive and SharePoint, Microsoft Teams migrations can be performed without licensing cost by using Mover however they are treated as SharePoint migrations. This means that while the Documents in Microsoft Teams will be migrated, the structure and channel history will not be preserved. There is also no allowance for Private Channels in Mover.

Pros

  • Low/No cost
  • Easy to Setup / Use

Cons

  • Can only move files, not Teams!

Third-Party Tools: MigrationWiz

MigrationWiz allows for the migration of Microsoft Teams along with Channels, channel message history, files and private channels. There is a per-Team cost associated with MigrationWiz outside of the existing User licensing for mail and OneDrive.

Pros

  • Move Teams objects complete with channels, messages and files
  • (Relatively) straightforward to set up

Cons

  • Licensing cost (Teams footprint can grow very quickly!)
  • Organizations may not have in-house experience with these tools

Third-Party Tools: ShareGate

ShareGate, if used for SharePoint / OneDrive migrations, can allow for the migration of Microsoft Teams along with the components supported by MigrationWiz at no extra cost. More information on the supported migration of Microsoft Teams is available here.

Pros

  • Licensed per-server so no cost for additional objects
  • Move Teams objects complete with channels, messages and files
  • (Relatively) straightforward to set up

Cons

  • Licensing cost (although less that other tools for larger number of objects)
  • Does not support Exchange Online migrations

Summary

This is just a short list of the options available for some of the more prominent workloads in Office 365v Tenant to Tenant migrations. There are other tools and options out there but hopefully this gives a clear overview to get started. I may post in the future on some of the other workloads and keep an eye out for my Planner migration tool which I will be posting on here in the future!

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