Once you have completed the planning stage, and everybody knows what is happening, it’s time to check the Google tools again. Yes, they change that often!

Once you know how many users you’ll need, you can visit Google and set up an account and buy the number of users you need. You only need to buy user accounts, as groups and calenders all come in the package. You can add the user accounts one at a time, in groups or all at once. It is effectively like buying credits which we will later use to add user accounts.

One area which was lacking at the time I carried out the migration, was that groups had to be created manually, and also populated manually with users once they had been migrated.

You will also need to set up your domain within Google, for which you will need to prove domain ownership, either by adding a Google specific CNAME to your DNS, or by adding an HTML file to the root of your website (If it has the same domain name).

At this stage DO NOT change your MX records, it may cause mail delivery issues.

When migrating to Google, I had to use several tools. Firstly, I had to use a tool which extracted the users from active directory, and created the user accounts in Google. Luckily it had a test feature, as it was a nightmare to configure. I then had to use Google Apps sync and Calendar sync, installed on each and every PC to upload user data to their accounts.

Since I did this, Google has a much better tool which uses a list of users to upload in CSV, and imports directly into Google from Exchange without ever having to visit an end users PC.

Follow the admin guide to use this tool, it explains it better than I could.

Now you have the migration tool installed, you can start the process, however initially start by migrating only yourself, so that you can test the migration tool does exactly what is says it should.

At this point, your email will be in 2 places, but only being delivered to Exchange, so make sure you add forwarding to your Exchange account to make sure any new emails are sent to the Gmail account too.

We were lucky enough to be adding a new email domain, so I was able to set up the MX records for that to Gmail, making forwarding easier, but as I recall you can send to temporary addresses at Google.

If you have problems forwarding, you can re-run the migration tool and specify a time period to sync from, and catch up with those emails.

As for us, because we had dual delivery (2 Domains), this wasn’t a problem, and we were safely able to forward, just be careful if you have Exchange mailbox limits, because this can stop forwarding if mailboxes get full.

Once you’re happy with your migration, you can move on to the rest.

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