Product: CodeTwo Exchange Migration and Office 365 Migration
You are at a crossroads, and you are not alone. Practically everyone these days is wondering what the best move will be, which path they should take to move their messaging solution forward. Many who have remained on Exchange 2003 through the past 3 releases of Exchange (and multiple service packs and now cumulative updates) are finding themselves in a precarious position with no direct upgrade path to Exchange 2013 and an end-of-life support coming soon. The marketing hype on moving to the cloud may (or may not) be just what you need, but no matter which way you go you will have to figure out how to migrate there.
You know, as a younger man, when folks wanted to move (migrate) homes I’d be the first one to show up. These days I cannot help but ask “why not hire a company to do that for you”? And I feel the same way about migrating Exchange data. You can manually work with the built-in tools, which are often times lacking depending your needs, or you can seek out a third-party migration tool to assist in that move to your new on-prem Exchange, your cloud-based Office 365… or a hybrid combination.
That’s where CodeTwo’s Exchange Migration and Office 365 Migration tools come into play. They have been designed to ease the migration frustration. Before we address the tools, let’s dive deeper into the obstruction.
The Migration Frustration
Have you ever been frustrated by something that is completely beyond your control? And when someone steps in to assist, you take your frustration out on them. That is somewhat how I feel when I review migration tools. There are so many wonderful aspects to third-party migration tools but the one thing that continues to frustrate me is the lack of ability to perform a migration from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2013 without either performing an intra-organizational double-hop (to Exchange 2007/2010 first and then to 2013) or a cross-forest (meaning new forest or resource forest) migration.
Some would say Microsoft dropped the ball on this but Exchange MVP Ed Crowley defends the move by saying “They didn’t drop any ball at all. I don’t know of any product where they’ve supported direct upgrades from three versions back.” I’ll admit a ten year gap does seem a bit much for a coexistence path. At some point it would have been wise for folks to make the jump forward to 2007 or 2010 and now that the time has passed they will need to make some decisions on a double-hop or something more creative. Either way if you are looking for a migration tool that allows the coexistence, that isn’t up to the tool, it was up to Microsoft to provide that and so we won’t fault the third-party company for it.
CodeTwo Migration Tools
Working with both tools at the same time gave me the advantage of seeing how they both install and perform, especially if I wanted to perform a hybrid approach for my migration strategy. Right after the installation (which was a simple N-N-F, Next-Next-Finish install) I liked that the tools provide an easy to grasp quick tour of the product. It explained the ability you have to have automatching of mailboxes using the Automatch button, although you can also choose to manually specify each mailbox connection one-by-one.
Just one personal note: I absolutely love that the tools, although separate, are exactly the same with regard to the look and feel of them. The wizards work the same, the concepts are the same. It was so nice during testing to be able to jump from one to the other and be familiar with each immediately.
Once installed, the tool jumps right into connecting your source server using a connection wizard (as shown in Figure 1). You’ll note that there is also an option to migrate from Google Apps (BETA) which is still in the development stage. The CodeTwo test team and beta testers have thoroughly tested the tool and it worked just fine in most scenarios. We’ll discuss scenario options in the next section.
Figure 1: The source server connection wizard
You can connect to your server through the wizard, shown in Figure 2, and choose a specific mailbox you wish to connect to. The program will create a MAPI profile and check whether you have appropriate rights to enumerate mailboxes, which is necessary to perform a migration.
Figure 2: Exchange connection
The next part of the process is the verification portion. Once you verify your connectivity and the account you are using to enumerate mailboxes you are good to go on the source server side, as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Verification complete
Once the connection is complete you are taken into the Administration portion of the tool, shown in Figure 4. Note the buttons at the top that make it very easy to perform the migration. You need to select a target first, as you can see in Figure 5, and there is a target server connection wizard to help you do just that. This is one area where the tools are different. The on-premise migration tool (aka CodeTwo Exchange Migration) provides an initial server connection part of the wizard. The Office 365 Migration tool jumps right to the admin’s credentials.
Figure 4: The migration tool with enumerated mailboxes displayed
Figure 5: Target server connection wizard
I’ll be honest, I was happy to verify connectivity to a separate Exchange server in a new forest, but not as pleased as I was when I tested the target wizard connection to an Office 365 configuration (shown in Figure 6). It worked without a hiccup and gave me a view of my Office 365 mailboxes to match the mailboxes properly for the migration.
Figure 6: Verification to Office 365 complete
Once the connection to the target is complete you will be good to move forward. Keep in mind, if you are using the 30 day trial you will be allowed to only migrate up to 10 items for each folder from all selected mailboxes. After the migration completes you will be able to see quickly if it succeeded. And there is a log you can peruse to confirm the results. My testing went off without a hitch.
Selecting the Settings button, shown in Figure 7, helps you make some basic changes to concurrency and address rewriting. The default number of active connections is 2 (although you can alter this). The address rewriting helps with migrations where the current EX addresses are not recognized after the migration completes (e.g. after migration from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2013).
Figure 7: Settings
Oftentimes we have tunnel vision with regard to a migration and can only see it from our organizational needs. So if you are looking to migrate from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2013 you have your scenario clear in mind. But it’s great to see what CodeTwo’s migration tools can handle. You can source everything from Exchange 2003 (cross-forest only) to Small Business Server (SBS 2003 – also cross-forest only) to Google Apps for Business. And you can target everything from Exchange 2010 or 2013 to SBS 2011. A picture says it better, so take a look at Figure 8 and 9 to see the current scenarios supported.
Figure 8: Exchange Migration supported scenarios
Figure 9: Office 365 Migration supported scenarios
Pricing and Support
The migration process is typically a one-off move and so it’s great to see that CodeTwo has pricing that makes sense in this regard. They offer perpetual pricing for each product type (Exchange or Office 365). On their website you can see the per mailbox price based on the number of users. For the Exchange Migration tool you can purchase 100 user license for $630 ($6.30 per user). Once you get up to 1000 user’s you pay $2,292 ($2.29 per user), so the bulk or volume pricing is your friend. Beyond 1000 you should ask for a quote. It’s slightly different on the Office 365 Migration side with 100 users costing $225 ($2.25 per mailbox) and 1000 users costing $1,225 ($1.23 per mailbox).
With regard to support, they offer free online, live technical support but I didn’t personally need it. The tool is easy to install, has options that make sense and the guided tour starts you down the path of learning right from the beginning. There is a Help option and plenty of online support. The only trouble you might have is typing your admin credentials incorrectly and having to double-check your credentials.
I love a tool (or tools in this case) that is advertised as being able to perform a task, and it does just that. It just works. That is what I appreciated most about the CodeTwo migration tools. They both worked with very little fuss. The interface looks modern and cohesive across the tools. The options are clear and there aren’t a thousand little extra settings that require a week long class to make the migration happen.
Would I have liked it if they solved the problem of Exchange 2003 coexisting with Exchange 2010 so you can do a one-hop migration? Absolutely. But that’s not within their power so don’t be frustrated in that regard. The tools do exactly what they say in the scenarios provided and I was pretty thrilled at how smoothly they performed.