A common question we get asked here at Charity Digital is how charities can move from their current on-premises IT environments to Office 365 in the cloud.
For more on some of the tools charities can take advantage of in Office 365, see our article ‘3 new Office 365 tools and how to use them’.
How to get Office 365 through Charity Digital
We’ve recently launched a new service, Microsoft Cloud Manager, through which we support charities to move to the cloud. You can access and manage all your Microsoft cloud products through one portal, and the Charity Digital team is there to support you during the process, making it easier to choose the right cloud packages for your organisation.
This works in a few simple steps:
1 – Go to the Microsoft Cloud catalogue page on the Charity Digital Exchange website here and select Office 365.
2 – Once on the Office 365 page, click on ‘get this offer’.
3 – Fill in your details and click ‘get in touch with me’ at the bottom of the form.
4 – A member of the Charity Digital team will call or email at a time of your preference to find out more about what you are looking for in a subscription and to confirm which cloud products you need. We’ll then create your new Office 365 or other Microsoft Cloud account.
5 – We will check if you are already validated or not for Office 365. If not, we’ll ask you to follow the link to add us as your cloud service provider, which will validate your organisation with Microsoft.
Adding new users
In order for your staff to access the apps they need, you will need to first create users, then assign licenses to their users. The next step is to migrate your existing users’ data over. (see the instructions on Microsoft’s website here).
You will need to create new user accounts manually for new staff joining your organisation. To do this, go to the Office 365 admin centre, and on the home page choose ‘Add a User’. Then fill in the fields; name, contact information, domain, password (user will need to change their password after 90 days or the first time they sign in), roles (whether they are an administrator or just a normal user) and the product licenses you want to give them access to.
After you add a user, you’ll get an email notification from the Microsoft Online Services Team. The email will contain the person’s Office 365 user ID and password so they can sign in to Office 365. You need to tell your new user about their Office 365 sign in information.
Migrating to the cloud
Once you have your Office 365 account, you will need to start moving your organisation’s data, email inboxes, applications and other digital assets from your current set-up to the cloud, whether partially or completely. You can migrate your users and email inboxes from other systems. This process is known as cloud ‘migration’, but what do we mean when we talk about migration and how does it work?
Migration to the cloud can be complicated: as Charity Digital doesn’t currently help charities with their full migration to the cloud, you will most likely need a specialist IT consultancy to help. Or Charity Digital partner Tech Impact offers DIY Office 365 migration workshops for small charities that are more technically minded and want to give it a go themselves.
The process can vary in complexity and time depending on the type of migration you need to undertake. There are three main types of cloud migration:
Cutover migration: Cutover migrations are designed to be easy, although they might not always be the best choice, even for small organisations, because the migration must be completed all at once. Also, if your organisation has excessively large mailboxes then a cutover migration might take an unacceptable amount of time to complete – it’s best for organisations with less than 1,000 mailboxes to transfer, and requires an Exchange server to make the switch (a computer server that stores your organisation’s email, address information, attachments and calendars in one central location).
Staged migration: Your system can also be migrated in batches, so it’s easier to manage larger numbers of users – you can do it over weeks, months, or however long you need. This requires on-premises synchronization and other technical tweaks to make the migration run smoothly. Users must create a new Outlook profile, which automatically connects to the Office 365 email account.
Hybrid migration: It’s the most flexible and seamless migration type, but it’s also the most complicated. This migration type assumes that some data is stored on-premises, and the rest in the cloud. The hybrid migration can also be used to gradually migrate all your data to the cloud, maintaining a hybrid environment for an unspecified time. A hybrid migration requires the Exchange admin to create a hybrid Exchange Server deployment by synching up your on-premises local Exchange Server and Office 365. Hybrid migrations are usually the only migration method suitable for use by larger organisations.