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Adiós Google, Hola Microsoft

Milton and his red stapler from Office Space
Ask me to do this again and I set the building on fire

I am a professional of many hats, because of course I am. Aren’t we all? In addition to the Sunderland gig that pays The Man, I look after the IT for a small local human rights organisation. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, pretty much since they got started, and it’s generally quite low-level stuff. A little bit of training, writing help guides, customer support; nothing terribly taxing. I also manage a Moodle VLE for them which is used for all of our internal training, hence all the Moodle Munches I’ve been attending lately. Putting that together was more fun, but still, VLE admin is the bread and butter.

However… early this year the one-man force of nature who effectively runs the show, had the bright idea of migrating from G Suite to Office 365 for their IT infrastructure, and asked me if I could do the science bit – transferring domain ownership and migrating all of the data and email addresses that had been created in Google. The answer was no, but actually yes. Who else was going to do it? I’m no Exchange admin, and I’d never attempted anything like this before, but I did my research and read the guides and set aside a few days when there could be downtime, both for the organisation and for me to be off work, to do the job.

It was not an easy one – very stressful – but after a couple of days the job was done, and it was a good ‘un. The hardest part was on the Google side, they make it so difficult for admins to manage accounts. For all the generic email address I had to effectively hack into them with password resets, then set 2 factor authentication and ‘app passwords’ which were needed for Microsoft to access the data. For the sadistic amongst you, the basic guide I followed was this one, but supplemented with many more to resolve specific issues.

On the Microsoft end it was wonderful, and it is so much easier to manage accounts now. We have far more accounts than we were allowed in G Suite, so now every one of our volunteers and members have individual accounts with access to Outlook, Teams, and the full Office suite online. I’m no fan of Microsoft (or any of the Big Five, tbh), but I have to give credit where it’s due, and they are good for this kind of thing.

It was certainly an experience, I learned a great deal, and I’m proud to have pulled it off so successfully. But I am never doing this again. Never!

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