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Migrating and Managing Microsoft Teams: Tips for MSP Success

Follow these best practices to simplify Teams migration, implementation, and management for your customers as they look to optimize remote workforces and refine Teams usage strategies. By Mark Rochester

For many businesses around the globe, remote work continues to rise. To maintain business continuity and support remote operations, organizations are accelerating their move to the cloud and relying on technologies like Microsoft Teams for enhanced workplace collaboration and productivity. As a result, Teams has experienced rapid growth this year. After Microsoft reported in March that Teams usage surpassed 44 million daily active users, it grew another 70 percent, hitting 75 million daily active users in April, and by October, that number had reached 115 million.

The sudden demand for Teams, which debuted in 2017, has presented some challenges due to its complexity and relative newness. Many companies are still figuring out best practices for implementation and use. And many managed services providers (MSPs) had little experience implementing Teams on a large scale prior to 2020, let alone migrating instances of Teams as companies optimize their cloud footprint for robust remote operations. Fortunately, there are best practices and reliable solutions that can help streamline and simplify migration, implementation, and management of Teams—providing an invaluable lifeline for MSPs trying to keep up with the rising demand.

Planning for a Smooth Migration

One of the most important steps is to devote proper time for planning and assessment to determine the scope and cost of the migration project. Identifying and deploying the right tools to help with the process is another critical step. You can leverage third-party tools and IT platforms at all stages of migration, implementation, and management to ensure a successful outcome. These tools can make easy work of a thorough premigration Teams assessment, which looks at factors such as Teams activity, guest users, Teams sizes, file sizes, similar Teams names, disabled owner accounts, similar channel names, and top channels based on size.

A detailed assessment is important given the common challenge of Teams sprawl, resulting from the creation of duplicate or redundant teams and channels. Taking the opportunity to clean house, including identifying what will be moved and what should be archived or discarded altogether, is fundamental to ensuring a smooth migration. This is also the time to revisit permissions and the structure of existing Teams instances, as there may be opportunities to make adjustments to better suit ongoing needs. If sprawl is a problem, consider setting up the new instance with stricter control on how Teams are created, named, and classified, or establish tighter rein on guest access. Once the scope and specifics of the project are defined, third-party tools can help simplify the migration using automation to reduce manual processes and chances for human error.

Migration Best Practices

There are many ways to approach a migration, but following a few best practices can help achieve the best possible outcome with minimal headaches. For example, when using an automated migration tool, make sure the source and destination are configured the same way to eliminate errors. Also, create administrator accounts on both the source and destination that are specifically dedicated to handle the migration and ensure they can run unattended.

Allowing ample time for the migration to complete is essential. If users store documents within Teams, migrating the extra data will take longer. Consider doing a test run on an average-size Teams channel to gauge the overall time that the project will require. Also, avoid migrations during daytime peak hours, which can result in throttling and a slower migration. Executing migrations during evenings and weekends will ensure the fastest result with the least possibility for disrupting end-user productivity during the work week.

These projects are complex, and expert support can make all the difference in achieving a smooth and successful result. If you’re using a third-party tool, do not hesitate to take full advantage of the supplier’s complimentary support resources before and during a migration.

Ensuring Long-Term Success

Implementing and migrating Teams successfully is only part of the task. An effective Teams management strategy is critical for long-term success. By leveraging third-party tools and platforms for ongoing management, you can conduct network assessments and schedule reporting on a regular cadence. Having this capability in place can help identify opportunities to create efficiencies and network improvements, as well as manage Teams sprawl and control cloud costs.

The continuing growth of Teams usage means a rise in complex Teams migrations. With many companies still in the early phase of refining their Teams implementation and usage strategies, you can play an important supporting role in helping your managed services customers optimize their remote operations and adjust to the demands of the current business landscape.

MARK ROCHESTER is the principal product architect at BitTitan, where he works closely with the product management, sales, and marketing teams to build market-leading products and features that address real-world problems. A seasoned service delivery professional with experience at some of the world’s largest enterprise service providers, Rochester specializes in cloud and infrastructure; SaaS; and Microsoft Azure, Exchange, and Office 365 systems and environments.

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