Office 365 Cutover Migration – Things You Should Know About It

Admin ~ Modified: October 29th, 2022 ~ Microsoft Exchange Server ~ 8 Minutes Reading

Summary: Have you made a decision to migrate your on-premise mailbox data to Office 365 for good? Then, look no further cause this technical how-to guide is going to explain the Office 365 cutover migration method in detail. Here, you will find everything you need to know about cutover migration. Stay connected to see the latest development in Office 365 cutover migration guide.

What is Micorosft Office 365 Cutover Migration?

For starters, it’s quite a simple migration method. A cutover migration is a migration approach through which you can migrate the entire mailbox in one go. And, you can deploy this particular migration method;

  • When your current on-premise Exchange is Microsoft Exchange server 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2019.
  • When the number of mailboxes that you want to migrate is fewer than 2000.

[Note: Though you can migrate 2000 mailboxes at once, however, it’s recommended to migrate 150 users at a time for a smooth operation.]

Normally, users think performing a migration between Exchange on-premise and Office 365 is a tough row to hoe. Well, they are right, it’s indeed an overwhelming task but can be successfully done with the right skills and knowledge of the migration process.

Must Read: Office 365 Hybrid Migration Step By Step Procedure Explained

Let’s briefly introduce the entire process pointwise.

Step-by-Step Office 365 Cutover Migration Process

  1. Prepare your On-premise Exchange server
  2. Verify the On-premise domain in Office 365
  3. Connect Office 365 to the On-premise Exchange server
  4. Create and start the migration batch
  5. Route emails to Office 365
  6. Delete the cutover migration batch
  7. Assign licenses
  8. Publish DNS records(CNAME)
  9. Decommission the on-premise Exchange server

Before you start the actual migration process, there are certain things you need to consider.

Related: How to Migrate Teams From One Tenant to Another? Complete Tutorial

Necessities For Cutover Migration

Below are the points you should confirm and act on them as prerequisites.

  • Set up Outlook Anywhere in the on-premise Exchange server
  • Add an SSL certificate issued by a trusted certification authority(CA)
  • Set required permissions
  • On-premise recipients should not be hidden from the address list
  • Disable Azure AD connect if enabled
  • Deactivate unified messaging if active in on-premise
  • Create security groups in Office 365

Now, let’s come to the main point and actually implement the cutover migration process discussed earlier. Since the process is very long, we’ll discuss it stepwise.

Step-1: Verify That You Own The Domain

To successfully run a cutover migration, your on-premise domain must be a verified domain in your Office 365 organization.

So, follow the below steps to add the domain and verify the same:

  • Log in to Microsoft 365 or Office 365 with your account credentials.
  • Select Setup and then Domains.
  • Now, on the Domains- page, click Add domain to start the domain wizard.
  • On the Next page, type in the domain name you use for your on-premises Exchange organization, and then choose Next.
  • Then, on the Verify domain page, add a TXT record and click Next.
  • Go with the instructions provided by your DNS hosting provider. Usually, the TXT record is chosen to verify whether one owns the domain or not.

You can also check for the instructions in Add DNS records to connect your domain.

Then, wait for 15 minutes after adding your TXT or MX record before proceeding to the next step.

  • In the Office 365 domain wizard, click on done, verify now, and after that, you’ll see a verification page. Finally, click on Finish.

Step 2: Connect Microsoft Office 365 to Your Email System

  • Open the Microsoft Exchange admin center on your system.
  • In the Exchange admin center, navigate to Recipients and then Migration.
  • Choose the More and select Migration endpoints.
  • Now, on the Migration endpoints page, click on the New +.
  • Next, on the Select the migration endpoint type page, choose Outlook Anywhere, and click Next.
  • On the Enter on-premises account credentials page, enter your Email address, Account with privileges, and Password of account with privileges.
  • Then, press Next 
  • On the next page, enter a Migration endpoint name, for instance, Test5-endpoint. For the other two boxes, leave them blank to use the default values.
  • Finally, press New to create the migration endpoint.

Also Read: How to Transfer Office 365 Mailbox to Another User Account Step By Step?

Step 3: Create The Cutover Migration Batch

  • Go to the Exchange admin center, then click on Recipients >> Migration.
  • After that, select the New + >> Migrate to Exchange Online as shown in the picture below.
  • Now, choose Cutover migration >> Next in the Select a migration type page.
  • Then, you will see the migration endpoint information listed on the Confirm the migration endpoint page. Make sure to verify the information and then press next.
  • Next, the Move configuration page will pop up. There, enter the name (cannot contain spaces or special characters) of the migration batch, and then click Next. 

Once you create the migration batch, the batch name will be displayed in the list of migration batches on the Migration page.

  • Now, choose one of the following on the Start the batch page, i.e. specify how you want to start the batch.
  1. Automatically: The migration batch will start as soon as you save the new migration batch with a status of Syncing.
  2. Manually: The migration batch will be created but will not start. The status of the batch will be set to Created. To start a migration batch, you need to manually select it on the migration dashboard, and then click Start.
  • Click New to create the migration batch.

Step 4: Start The Cutover Migration Batch

  • Open the Exchange admin center, and select Recipients >> Migration.
  • Go to the migration dashboard, choose the batch, and then click on Start.
  • Once the migration batch starts successfully, the status on the migration dashboard will change to Syncing.

Step 5: Route The Emails Directly To Office 365

Usually, Email systems use DNS records called MX records to work out where to deliver emails. Now that the emails are being migrated to Office 365, make sure that the MX record is pointing toward the destination email system.

[Note: It may take up to 72 hrs to recognize the changed MX record. So, you have to wait for at least 72 hrs before proceeding with the next steps.]

Step 6: Delete The Cutover Migration Batch

Once you confirm that all the desired emails are successfully being routed to Office 365 mailboxes, sent out a circular to the customers stating the change of mailbox location. 

When everything is in its place then you can delete the cutover migration batch. Follow the below steps to carry out the deletion.

  • Open the Exchange admin center, then click on Recipients >> Migration.
  • Then, under the migration dashboard, choose the batch that you want to delete and click on Delete.

After removing the batch, verify that the migration batch is no longer listed on the migration dashboard.

Step 7: Assign Licenses to Office 365 Users

As a part of Office 365 deployment, you need to assign licenses and activate user accounts within 30 days of the migration. 

Step 8: Create Autodiscover DNS Records

After the migration, it becomes necessary to create Autodicover DNS records so that the users can easily find their mailboxes and connect them with Outlook and mobile clients.

[Note: Office 365 uses CNAME record to implement Autodiscover service for Outlook.]

Step 9: Decommission the On-premise Exchange Server

This is the final step, where after verifying all the emails are being diverted to the Office 365 environment and you are no longer required to maintain your on-premise Exchange, you can Uninstall Exchange from your servers and simultaneously remove them.

After performing all the 9 steps, you can apparently, migrate your on-premise data to cloud O365. However, there are certain limitations of cutover migration. Let’s have a look at those.

Downsides of Office 365 Cutover Migration

  • The overall process involves various complex steps.
  • One should have the technical skill and expertise to execute the migration successfully.
  • You need to be careful while performing the steps otherwise one single mistake can lead to unrecoverable data loss.

So, if you are new to the field of data migration and don’t want to go through this complicated cutover migration process. Then, you can opt for the Automated Software Exchange to Office 365 Migration Tool.

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How Choosing The Automated Tool Beneficial?

First of all, the complete process is going to be automated. And, the Graphical User Interface of the software makes it easier for the users to carry out the process in just a few clicks.

There are other benefits of using the tool. Such as:

  • You can migrate emails, contacts, and calendars in bulk.
  • The tool preserves the hierarchy of the folder structure at the destination after the migration.
  • Conveniently, start & stop the migration process as per your requirement.
  • For whatever reason, if any data is being missed during the initial run then you can easily re-do the process(without redundancy) through the Re-run migration feature.

Related: Office 365 Staged Migration – Everything You Need to Know

Ending Words

When it comes to data transfer to Office 365 all in one go, Office 365 cutover migration comes into the picture. However, the entire procedure might be time-consuming and complicated. 

And, with the rising demand for on-premise data migration to the cloud i.e Microsoft 365, having a tried and tested method is crucial. Hence, this how-to guide has suggested trustworthy software to help you get started with the migration process.