5 Ways to Prepare for Exchange 2016, SharePoint 2016 and Office 365, Part 1: Evaluate Your Environment

Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 has already been out for a month or so, and SharePoint 2016 is said to be coming in the first half of next year. Have you started thinking about upgrading to Exchange 2016 and SharePoint 2016? What about moving to Office 365 to take advantage of other applications such as Yammer, OneDrive for Business and Skype for Business?

With each of the previous major releases — Exchange 2007, 2010 and 2013 — we’ve seen a big wave of migration activity, and we expect the same with 2016 on the way. Most organizations look at each release as the green light to evaluate their existing environment and seriously consider their upgrade plans.

  • If you’re still on 2003-generation software, you don’t have much choice. Microsoft stopped support on Windows Server 2003 last July, so you have to either upgrade or fly blind (and without security patches).
  • If you’re on Exchange 2007 or 2010, do you want to upgrade to tried and true 2013, or skip directly to 2016?
  • Do you want to stay with on-premises software or move to the cloud in Microsoft Office 365?

A few weeks ago, I blogged about what’s new in Exchange 2016 and Office 365. In this series of blog posts, I’ll take you through some of the main ways you can start preparing for upgrades as described in our new white paper, Top Five Ways to Prepare for Exchange 2016, SharePoint 2016 and Office 365.

Evaluate Your Existing Environment

The first step is no surprise: Assess what you have in place already, in whichever version of Exchange or SharePoint you’re running. That means assessments in several different areas:

  • Inventory and usage – This is how you find out how much work you’re in for and how much it’s likely to cost. It also gives you an idea of the effect your migration will have on daily operations, mailboxes, shares and folders.
  • Messaging – Determine the types of content you’re taking and the types you’re leaving, as you would when moving from one house to another.
  • PST – Are you moving the local PST files that users create so they don’t bump against storage quotas on the server? PSTs take up a lot of space, can be stored almost anywhere and it’s hard to know who is using them.
  • Storage and archiving – This is a good time to pare away ancient email and do a reset on your archiving policies, but keep an eye on how you handle the messages and content that run over quota, in case somebody suddenly needs them back.
  • Application – Subject your applications to the same scrutiny as messages and data. Does anybody use these applications anymore? How often? Have new applications superseded them?
  • Hardware – Your migration may extend beyond new software to new hardware. Is this a good time to bring new servers, mobile devices and storage into the mix?

As an overall consideration, make sure you have the right tools for tracking and managing your client access license fees. Somebody will surely want to know those figures before long.

Next Step

Have a look through this and other migration checklists in our new white paper, Top Five Ways to Prepare for Exchange 2016, SharePoint 2016 and Office 365. In my next post I’ll cover Active Directory modernization, another useful step before you start your 2016 and Office 365 migrations.