Five Pillars to Optimize 0365 Readiness
The benefit of moving your business to Office 365 are innumerable. These benefits include mobile access, increased productivity, reduced hardware cost and the many opportunities that enterprise technology offers. The best way to achieve this is to earnestly plan and balance the features in Office365 and SharePoint.
Special Keywords and explanations:
What is the Cloud?
The cloud is a general term that describes outsourced data processing centres that have been transformed into computer resources that are more like a utility (aka electricity) that organizations can consume based on use.
There are two types of cloud migration:
1. Full Cloud: you move all your documents and processes out of SharePoint and remove or archive your SharePoint environment, never to use it again.
2. Hybrid Cloud: you move some of your operations to the cloud, but retain others in local servers.
Typically, businesses choose to store some of their most sensitive files in local servers where they can vouch for their security.
What’s the difference between Office 365 and SharePoint?
Office 365 unifies SharePoint, Exchange, Skype for Business, and Azure services within a single interface for organizations to be productive. While SharePoint is a standalone server product focused on supporting collaboration through documents and business workflows, and is an important piece
of Office 365.
What is a server?
A server is a large, powerful computer which is typically specialized towards carrying out one kind of computing operation.
Facts to consider about Microsoft’s Office 365
Office 365 is also used in 80% of Fortune 500 corporations.
The consumer version of Office 365 is seeing close to one million new sign ups every month.
The business iteration of the cloud platform accommodates up to 50,000 new small and medium sized companies to the service every month.
A study from Forrester (the technology analyst) estimates an ROI of 321% in just two months for companies that move to the platform.
Forrester analysed the cost savings and the productivity boosts that Office 365 would bring to a medium sized business, and discovered that companies that chose the platform could
save millions of dollars per annum.
Cloud migration should be hassle free and less problematic for organizations. This is usually true to a degree if there is a meticulous plan involved in the migration. Even with careful planning, sometimes it is important to expect some problems especially technical ones but this is something that should be expected so as not to be frustrated with the migration. Thus, it is important for the organization to be fully informed of how their infrastructure and applications will be fully integrated with Office 365. A proper structured plan is required.
The importance of setting priorities is good practice as this avoids the problems of hybrid deployment and ensures that the complexity involved in deployment is drastically reduced.
The five pillars to optimize Office 365 are:
1. Architecture: If you’re planning to use Office 365, whether through the full or hybrid migration, you should consider the following factors:
a) Speed of connection: This depends on whether you’re deploying fully or using the hybrid cloud. Either way, the connection you have to the local servers (hybrid) might seem
faster compared to the external connection to the cloud while the reverse is the case in the full migration (i.e. the external connection seems to be faster). Microsoft recommends their ExpressRoute which offers a direct connection from the customer network to Microsoft’s data centres. This ensures faster connectivity and network reliability.
b) Geolocation of data centres: In the hybrid deployment, the use of offshore, underground networks is usually suggested. The employees would need to use VPNs to access the organization’s firewall when not in the vicinity of the company. This can be disadvantageous as this reduces the speed and reliability of the connection. On the other hand, full cloud deployment would ensure that you have to be close to one of
Microsoft’s data centre. If this isn’t possible, you can always use a tenant’s data centre. The only but in this is that, when you’re far away from the data centres, the connection reliability reduces.
2. Network: fast and reliable connection to the cloud is vitally important. A disorganization would lead to congestion and complaints from the employees.
Follow these rules to fully optimize your network:
Utilize multiple network interfaces in each server and connect them to virtual local area networks (VLAN) on the same switch.
Configure SharePoint services that generate a lot of network traffic, like search, to only communicate with a dedicated server instead of the general-purpose web servers.
On premises servers need to be running optimally, as migration tasks consume additional bandwidth on top of normal collaboration activities, and external links must be optimized to facilitate a great deal more traffic than normal day-to- day web browsing.
3. Database: The more data that has to be moved, the longer it takes to deploy to the cloud. Thus, it is important to weed out the unnecessary information.
Follow these rules to optimize the database:
Since some content would not be displayed on the on-premise SharePoint. It is important to review the content that would display as this would help in efficient data storage. There is no point in transferring these contents to the cloud as this would waste space and network.
Examining each document library and modifying version control settings to truncate old versions can greatly reduce the amount of data in the current on-premises database and
minimize what gets sent over the wire to Office 365.
Thorough review of existing sites by content owners often results in the discovery of many unused sites, the elimination of which can provide a tremendous amount of storage savings.
4. Customization: There’s a lot of options to customize in SharePoint that aren’t basically available in Office 365. This isn’t a bad pillar as this ensures that multiple employees can edit
the same document conveniently. Revert existing content to out-of- the-box master pages and remove all page-level customizations prior to migration in order to ensure a smooth transition. Then, after the content has been moved to the cloud, revisit those pages where some in-page customizations using the supplied content controls (such as the Content Editor Web Part and Wiki pages) will enhance the user experience.
5. Add ins/ Apps: Customizations, as with any custom code solution, can introduce performance issues and bugs to the environment. So, to avoid this, add in/ apps comes in. Office 365 add-ins can be used to create standalone applications accessible via Site Contents or the Application Launcher, embedded page components very similar to web parts, or administrative resources that deploy branding customizations, provision sites, assign permissions, and so on.
These steps are interrelated, starting from the base pillar (i.e. Architecture) to the top one (i.e. Add ins / Apps).
1. ANALYZE YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
The most important step in implementing the Five Pillars is to begin assessing how your company is doing in each area. Your IT team will need to carry out a thorough analysis of how your current SharePoint environment is performing and identify the areas which will need the most improvement.
2. DEVELOP AN ACTION PLAN
Once you have a clear idea of where you need to optimize readiness, your next goal should be to develop a strategy for your migration by focusing especially on pillars where you are currently underperforming.
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