What does it take to move an organization to Google Apps or Microsoft 365?

Moving to a SaaS desktop environment such as Google Apps or Microsoft 365 has proven to be a compelling proposition for a number of companies. In particular companies operating in travel and retail find that cloud based ‘office’ environments are a good fit with their mobile workforces.

Apparently, the move is often triggered by the need to upgrade the email platform, even though the functionality of cloud based office is much wider than that, including document management and new collaboration tools.

But is the move simple? What does it take? I talked to a friend who is running such a move, and he came up with the following, non-exhaustive, list of activities.

  • Get a partner to help you do this, you don’t want to reinvent the wheel.
  • Contracts. If you are above a couple of dozen seats, you can actually have a negotiation with the cloud providers.
  • A number one task in your new solution architecture is figuring out how to do identity management. What about your existing Active Directory and/or LDAP? How will you run single sign-on over multiple cloud providers?
  • Develop a policy for a ‘company app-store’. The ease with which application can be added can lead to ‘application sprawl’. On the other hand, being too restrictive stifles innovation and enthusiasm.
  • Migrate from your current environment. This includes a lot of sub activity.
  • Clean up all those old fileservers and find a way to retire those documents that have not been accessed in years.
  • Teach your users about new collaboration tools, such as Google Circles.
  • Lots of testing of the configuration and proper authorization.

Making this move is not just about cutting cost, and becoming more flexible, it is also about new ways of working both for your users and your IT department.

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