Fireside Chat, Part I: Before You Make the Move to Office 365

Migration to cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 is on just about everyone’s mind these days. You’re eager to embrace the many benefits of Office 365, but as you consider this big move, your mind is spinning with questions. In this two-part blog series, we’ll look at some of the key issues discussed at our recent webinar, “Fireside Chat: Moving to Office 365 with Security in Mind.” Security consultant and long-standing Microsoft MVP Tony Bradley and McAfee Product Manager Nate Fitzgerald share tips on making a smooth and secure transition to Office 365.

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Will I Lose Control?

As Bradley points out, with flexible plans and pricing options, Office 365 offers an array of productivity tools and services for businesses of all sizes. If you’ve already had some experience using cloud services or applications, making the shift to Office 365 promises to be familiar and comfortable. But if it’s the first time you’ve embarked on any kind of cloud dependency initiative, particularly when it involves a vital business function like email, you may feel jittery about the process, which is only natural. Just know that, when you’re moving to the cloud, it’s always a trade-off—you’ll have to make some adjustments as you hand off back-end management to Microsoft.

Aside from email continuity issues, which we addressed in a previous blog, you might feel uneasy about potentially losing control over your data and exposing it to new levels of risk, losing visibility, or not having access to logs or forensics data. Fitzgerald and Bradley suggest that for small or medium-size organizations, Office 365 may be just the ticket, so they can focus on business and let Microsoft take care of the rest. But what about large enterprises and organizations with more stringent privacy concerns?

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Does It Have to Be All or Nothing?

It’s reassuring to know that migrating Office 365 doesn’t necessarily mean giving up your on-premises servers or your privacy. The great thing about Office 365 is that it offers you the flexibility to expand your options. As Fitzgerald and Bradley point out, you can pick and choose what you want to move to the cloud and what you want to keep in-house. While organizations with 250 employees or less may want to move everything to the cloud, enterprises may elect to move the general population to the cloud in order to take advantage of the cost reductions and keep email on premises for mission-critical employees—executives, employees working on sensitive projects, and remote workers in certain geos. According to Fitzgerald, you can even have Microsoft route your emails to on-premises servers if you choose. These are some of the ways you can balance cost savings with privacy.

Whom Do You Trust?

By now, you’re probably leaning toward Office 365 migration, but the nagging question remains: Can I entrust my security to Microsoft? While Microsoft claims that it offers world-class security for Office 365, it may not be enough. It does an excellent job of building a productivity platform, says Fitzgerald, but, when it comes to email security, antivirus, and policy updates, third-party security is likely a necessity. Now’s the time to do your due diligence and start investigating other solutions. Once you’ve established what your security priorities are, it’s wise to get budget approval prior to rollout, as it’s much harder to do after the fact.

So what exactly are some of the security implications associated with Office 365? To find out, stay tuned for part two of our blog series.

Migrate to Office 365 Securely

Do you want to take a deeper dive into the ins and outs of Office 365 migration? Take advantage of these great resources:

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