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Fuss-free Office 365 migration

Research by Forrester finds that the public cloud market will increase to USD191 billion in 2020. In no small part, this is due to businesses turning towards cloud-based productivity and collaboration applications offered by the likes of Microsoft’s cloud-based Exchange and Office applications.

According to Microsoft and wide industry research, the number of commercial seats for Exchange and Office actually doubles every quarter, driven by strong enterprise demand.

Long-time Microsoft technology partner, Barracuda Networks (Barracuda), has recognised that the past four years, the Microsoft Office 365 Web-based suite (O365) has been adopted by more than 30 million users and organisations seeking greater productivity, network accessibility, easy email and collaboration anywhere, on any device.

According to Osterman Research, many organisations are already seriously considering the deployment of Microsoft Office 365 and take up of the productivity and collaboration suite is expected to more than double by 2017. Already, cloud-based mailboxes powered by Microsoft Exchange server currently represents 31-percent of all worldwide business cloud mailboxes.

Barracuda’s initiative

With the unique requirements of heavily-regulated industries and heavily-regulated environments also in mind, Barracuda has recently extended their cloud focus with a comprehensive initiative to help businesses manage and operate and migrate to Office 365, more securely and efficiently.

Barracuda CEO BJ Jenkins said, “IT in the midmarket has always turned to third parties in the Microsoft ecosystem to ensure both security and compliance in their premises environments.

“These requirements do not go away when you go to the cloud and Barracuda has a rich heritage with more than 150,000 customers worldwide to protect their email, users and application data.

“Our Office 365 strategic initiative allows customers to continue to leverage our years of experience and expertise to help make the initial transition and ongoing operation easier.”

Moving forward with migration

Announced as a strategic initiative to formalise Barracuda’s efforts around Microsoft’s Web solutions, it includes a series of end-user educational events that are offline as well as online, with channel partners.

These events address new and big challenges for example unforeseen delays in migration and performance challenges that include lapses in security, data protection and compliance.

But besides this, is the portfolio of Barracuda solutions that are can help IT administrators navigate around Microsoft’s solutions, with ease.

Barracuda’s Consulting Systems Engineer, Aravindan Anandan said, “As we all know, O365 is a cloud service which means that almost all traffic to the service will consume Internet. All this traffic would be on HTTPS which is encrypted by nature. This poses a problem for a network administrator who traditionally would not expect such a surge in internet traffic, and with most of it being encrypted.”

He opined that a network layer firewall that is able to differentiate O365 traffic from other HTTPS traffic is needed. “This is to ensure that email traffic on O365 is prioritised over other less important applications.

“This could also mean having a dedicated bandwidth for O365.”

During migration, there is also the humongous task of moving historical data from the on-premises exchange server to the O365 cloud.

“This can be a humongous task as Exchange servers typically have multiple terabytes of data and moving all this data to the cloud can be very costly both in terms of time and internet bandwidth.” Aravindan pointed out.

What he proposed is an alternate approach that can be used to archive the historical data using an archiving appliance. “This saves a lot of migration time and efficiently solves accessibility issues,” Aravindan said.

Because users need not archive their emails locally on their devices, the IT department has more control over message tracking and retention, as well.

With a solution like an archiving appliance, message management becomes more intuitive and productive. With just a Web browser, plug-ins and mobile devices self-service access and recovery by end users, is now possible.

A message archiving appliance like Barracuda’s Message Archiver also supports comprehensive indexing, permissioning, search, legal hold, audit and export capabilities for simple eDiscovery requests, as well as compliance with laws and regulations that require message retrieval.

Security

Besides ensuring accessibility to historical email including PST files (Personal Storage Table format is an open proprietary format that stores copies of messages, calendar events and other items within Microsoft Outlook, Exchange Client, Messaging), there is also the matter of securing them.  Aravindan observed, “For a traditional security solution, deciphering this data to control the traffic is not possible.”

As with other Web-based applications O365 is more vulnerable to malware and other malicious attacks that propagate through Web protocols. But as with other Web-based apps, there are security solutions to overcome these Web-based threats.

Aravindan recommends that a layered security approach can help offload the security requirement, to a content filtering solution, for example.

“Once the migration is over, the network admin will also have to ensure that there is uninterrupted traffic flow and availability. Most users would demand a persistent connection to the O365 service which is also a problem area for network admins.

“Barracuda Networks provides the Barracuda NG Firewall, Barracuda Message Archiver, PST enterprise software, Barracuda Spam Firewall amongst other products for helping companies leverage the enormous capabilities of O365 cloud,” he concluded.

As part of their efforts to extend their cloud focus, Barracuda had been one of the first security vendors to become certified on Microsoft’s public cloud platform, Azure.




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