Hosted Exchange Migration, step by step guide somewhere?

Greetings Experts!

I'm the sole IT person for a non profit with about 80 employees, and a handful of long term interns and volunteers, accounting for roughly 100 e-mail accounts. We've been using Exchange 2003 for some time, and our server hardware is getting past its prime. Looking into solutions, I was able to secure pricing for Hosted Exchange (just the Exchange portion of Office 365) of $2 per user per month through Microsoft, but they don't provide much in the way of support for the migration process.

When I asked them a handful of questions regarding the process, such as how to make it as easy as possible, they connected me with one of their service partners, who have quoted me $13,000 to do the migration. While I can see the benefits of someone else doing the migration, I just don't have it in my budget to put out that kind of money. Nowhere near it.

So I'm wondering if there is anyone here who has experience with this sort of thing, that would be willing to provide detailed information on the process, what it entails for my MX records, my Outlook clients for our users, etc. In the meanwhile, I've countered the quote from the service partner by asking for a single account migration, just so I can see the process in action once.

I'm fairly confident that I could handle the migration process, but I want to make sure I'm prepared to handle all of the steps of the process, and the easiest way to do that is to see it in action, or to see a detailed walk through of the process.
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sunnyc7Connect With a Mentor Commented:
Nope - that's BS

Office365 works like a charm.
Check these guys out also -- they are specialists in Office365 migration and will offer free advice.

The CEO is a Microsoft MVP and they developed scripted migration routines.

Give them a call - they are good.
I just moved someone to that same service.

1. You will need to create the user accounts, I exported a mail list from Exchange 2003 to a CSV, added the appropriate fields to prepare for upload to the service to batch create them later.  For now, you want at least email address and first and last names.
2. Create your admin account and then buy however many boxes you need.  There is a wizard that will ask you for the CSV file to batch create users, their email, and their passwords.
3. Verify you own domain by adding something to webpage, or changing the mx records to MS's mailserver.
4. Start connecting everyone's devices and outlooks, which is a real pain.
5. Make sure all your external cnames, a records, whatever point to new location. (OWA, sharepoint, whatever)

You should consider upgrading your current hardware and software.  Hardware wise, you are looking at give or take 3-5k, software is about $700 or so as a non-profit (MS sells Exchange for non profit for 40 bucks, cals for 6, and the os also for $40..  You will be best suited to do it this way as then you will not have to reconfigure anyone and the upgrade process willl change all the local updates, and the OWA, or more importantly, update all the devices roaming around.  At 100 or so users, losing all that control can be a selling point for keeping it in house.
did you check

They usually charge $10 per mailbox for migration - anywhere to anywhere.
There is a free trial also.

Migrating to Office365
- Are you setting up co-existence, or moving all mailboxes over weekend.

Check the migration guide here:
Creating Active Directory Users from a Text File

If your organization has a need to mass-create AD user accounts, watch this video to see how its done without the need for scripting or other unnecessary complexities.

Oh as a side note the client I set up, the real pain point was migrating all the users over to new services.  There are some things that are cool about MS's exchange solution, as they can also offer things like single sign on (you install a AD "hook" that will send your information to them and configure the mailboxes and distribution lists, etc, and you should really consider that) and some other things that others cannot do.

Overall, they like the service, but the down time associated with the migration was significantly longer than expected.  I had 30 users and some of their mobile devices were down for almost a week.  I can only imagine 100 users...
minileedAuthor Commented:
Thanks both of you for your input. I'm contacting Microsoft to see if we can get our account started so that I can give the MigrationWiz a try.

tsaico - What mobile devices were your clients using? I've got just a handful of folks accessing Exchange on Blackberries and iPhones. Of the 100 or so users we have, less than a dozen actively use mobile devices for e-mail. As I said, we're a non profit. ;)
Office365 with BB /iphone is piece of cake.
You can take a free migration demo with migration wiz also.
Check if you can get a non profit pricing there..
minileedAuthor Commented:
Still getting things setup on a trial basis here. Just spoke with the company that gave us the high quote for the migration process, and their sales rep told me that Blackberry devices are NOT setup to work correctly with Office365, that the e-mail works but calendaring doesn't? Does this ring true in your experience sunnyc7?
The actual configuration of such devices were easy.  It was dealing with non tech people, who could barely use their phones, to delete the old exchange profile and then enter the new info.  Because my remote people were all over the place, having different versions and most of them not even bothering to read the instructions I had sent them before the migration, and then trying to coordinate with them when we both were available was my big pain.  Not so much the technology.

Myself, though, I would still push for the non-hosted and run it your self.  You can get all the OS and Exchange software and CALs as well as full versions of office 2010 for everyone for less than a thousand bucks.  Also the Calendar and contacts features for the Black berry does NOT work with Exchange
On MS's website, they say themselves you need to sync that with a wired connection, read a the bottom. Your BB users are out of luck in this sense.  You could choose to run BES enterprise local too, which is entirely free for non-profits up to 75 BB users as I recall.
minileedAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the answers from both of you, I'm currently in the process of trying out the O365 demo, and am hoping to have our migration done before the end of the year. It looks like MessageOps is the key for me, and I'm pretty comfortable with them as a solution.
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