The Ultimate Guide for Tenant-to-Tenant Microsoft 365 Migrations (Important Considerations & Steps)
A tenant is a dedicated instance of Azure AD service that you receive and own when you sign up for Microsoft’s cloud service such as Azure, Microsoft Intune, or office 365. Each Azure AD tenant is unique, distinct, and separate from other Azure AD tenants.
In Microsoft Office 365, a tenant is representative of your organization. A tenant houses users’ in your company and the information about them – their passwords, permissions, profile data, and so on. It also contains applications, groups, and other information about your organization, including security.
In business mergers, acquisitions, divestiture, or rebranding, a company will need to undertake tenant-to-tenant migration. It involves the migration of instances, mailboxes, OneDrive accounts, and domains from one tenant to another.
The migration is not a linear process, and you will need some preparation, meet certain prerequisites, and own licenses. In this blog, we explore the Office 365 content structures to be moved and other important considerations to help you with your next Office 365 migration project.
Tenant to Tenant Migration: Content Structures to be Moved
SharePoint Online is way more than just libraries and sites; it’s where users store and track their data/information in Microsoft 365. The sharing and security structure of the information in SharePoint sets permissions within Microsoft 365, but it can easily go south here during migration.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that all the security sharing is maintained you move the SharePoint Online data from the source tenant to the target tenant. This includes external and internal sharing with SharePoint security and data structures like Teams, Groups, and Active Directory Groups.
Besides security and permissions, the metadata associated with files is key, and your users possibly customize the metadata to keep their information organized. Your company may also have classification or retention labels that adhere to security policies and data retention that need to remain intact during the tenant-to-tenant migration process.
SharePoint lists store important data sets, workflow information, and SharePoint Settings need t remain intact.
It is also important to understand that any folders or files shared or created via Microsoft Teams are usually stored in the document library behind the team. As such, you need to know which content is associated with each team and how tenant-to-tenant will affect your users.
File sharing security, file metadata, files, and folder structures for the files stored and shared in Teams are stored within SharePoint sites that exist behind the Team. Every Teams private channel has a SharePoint site with unique permissions and content.
Teams are typically structured by channels that hold file information, conversations, and tabs that connect applications to each channel. Some popular applications used in Teams are OneNote and Planner.
If you migrate from one tenant to another, you will need to capture as much of Teams associated content as possible. Users in your company possibly have one-one chats or Group chats that are not associated with any actual Microsoft Teams. However, these chats’ data is synced to different private folders for each user’s Exchange account.
It may also be possible for users to access previous chat information in applications such as Outlook, and you will require to capture such information in your migration process. The files shared from 1-1 chats are stored in the sending user’s OneDrive for Business in their chats files folder. It is important to consider moving such files to ensure continued collaboration once the target environment is complete.
Teams Channels and Sprawls
Some of the content in Microsoft Teams includes tons and tons of channels that are best-sorted into their own teams or subsets within a few Teams rather than all being crammed under a single team with very many channels.
You may also encounter many similar Teams or overlapping Groups of users that you can consolidate into one Team with several channels. In such instances, tenant-to-tenant migration or restructuring within one Tenant of Office 365 is a great way to organize your business and streamline processes while saving time.
OneDrive for Business
OneDrive is the personal storage and collaboration space for your Office 365 users. It can also store data/information shared s 1-1 within Teams. SharePoint information and additional user settings occur as hidden lists alongside the Document Library that stores the main user folders and files.
Just like SharePoint, the security and sharing information and metadata for these files is stored in OneDrive, and you may want to ensure that most of this associated information is moved with the folders and files in your tenant-to-tenant migration project.
Personal lists can exist as actual SharePoint lists stored together with OneDrive for Business Document library.
Because Lists are usually used to store important data sets while keeping track of business process information, it is important to ensure your user’s Lists are moved alongside their OneDrive for Business folders and files during tenant-to-tenant migration.
Exchange Online and Outlook Email
Exchange mailbox stores important information such as Teams chat data, tasks, calendar data, contacts, and more, and don’t forget the popular public folders. Exchange has security information such as mailbox permissions and you need to consider these in your tenant-to-tenant migration.
Let’s Now Migrate: The Migration Process
Here is a brief rundown of important steps to take if you are planning to migrate your office 365 to another tenant.
- Plan Ahead- To ensure a seamless migration, it is important to plan for the process beforehand (preferably two weeks ahead of the due date) to avoid last-minute rush and setbacks. Take into account all the prerequisites of the migration, including acquiring the necessary licenses.
- Prepare Tenants- This entails preparing both target and source tenants for the migration of the mailboxes. For instance, you may have to create extra room for new users’ mailboxes in the target tenant. You will also need admin accounts for both the target and source tenants. Create objects such as Users, Rooms, Resources, and Groups from the Target tenant’s source tenant before the migration.
- Inform Stakeholders- Informing the stakeholders about the impending migration is an important part of the tenant-to-tenant migration. Consider charting out a good communication strategy to alert users whose tenant is likely to be affected by the migration. Communicate important details like the duration of the migration process, advisory to end-users about the changes, and what they will need to do after the process is complete.
- Prepare the Domain- During migration, you will have to merge the Office 365 source tenant and the target tenant. To achieve this, the source tenant is added to Office 365 admin center, and TXT records are created to enable DNS verification.
- Prepare User Accounts- Your IT team will also need to create a CSV file of mail addresses that will be transferred to the target tenant’s mailbox. Experts recommend that you append .onmicrosoft.com. on the email address of the source tenant.
- Update the Mail Exchanger Records- The mail exchanger records show the recipient mail addresses for Office 365 tenants. During tenant-to-tenant migration, you will need to change the server address that receives mails for the users to match the of address the target tenant. The change may take some time and can disrupt mail flow. The period for changing the server email address is referred to as time to live (TTL) and should be kept at the bare minimum to reduce disruption. It is, therefore, important for you to assess the TTL before embarking on the migration.
- Disable Azure Active Directory- The Azure Active Directory allows access to apps (such as SharePoint Online), public folders, and other resources. Ensure to stop it from syncing before migrating from one tenant to another. Disabling the directory may take up to a day to complete, and thus you may want to initiate it in a timely manner. Any changes to the source tenant will not reflect once you have disabled syncing. Plan for this step accordingly, probably on a working day.
- Activities on the Migration Day Activities- If your migration process is well planned, there isn’t much of a hassle on the D day. Generally, this is what you need to do,
- Stop the source tenant from receiving any incoming mails
- Configure the source target domain that will be migrated to the target tenant
- Confirm the target domain with the source tenant domain
- Choose the migration method that is most suitable for you and continue with the migration.
- Prepare the Source Tenant Domain – For your migration process to succeed, remove the source tenant domain from Microsoft Office 365. This involves resetting email addresses, SharePoint Online public websites, and other objects back to the initial domain. Revoke licenses and remove secondary emails before you migrate to the new Office 365 accounts. Use the PowerShell command to manually stop processes that are blocking removal.
- Prepare the Target Tenant- After adding the source tenant to the target domain, verification of the transfer is required by the tenant’s admin center. Configure the Azure Directory in the target domain and assign licenses to users for mailbox activation. For the old email addresses. Assign them as the primary addresses and set their passwords in the new account. Once the mail exchanger record updates are complete, mails will start flowing into the inbox.
- Move Objects to the New Accounts- Migrating from one Office 365 to another is considered complete when every detail, including contacts and calendar, has been transferred to the new 365 account. There are four main methods of migration including cutover migration, hybrid migration, IMAP migration and staged migration. Talk to a dependable cloud service solutions provider to give you expert advice on the appropriate method depending on your business.
We Can Help You with Microsoft 365 Tenant to Tenant Migration
Are you planning a Microsoft 365 tenant-to-tenant migration? Count on us to offer you superior solutions that are tailored to your business’s needs.
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For more information or queries about Microsoft 365 tenant-to-tenant migration, feel free to contact us today, and we will be more than willing to assist.
I am a 15 year veteran in the Voice over IP industry that specializes in Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business. I am a Teams and Office 365 architect with multiple Microsoft Expert level certifications, and have successfully migrated many clients over to Teams. I currently run a consulting business that focuses on digital transformations using Microsoft Teams and Azure.