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Technical Brief
from Zigabyte Australia

Mailbox Migration to Office 365

Where 1 is better than 4, even with the growing pains, and 55,000 users cannot be happier.

"We enhanced security and management, decreased cost and delivered a more productive environment to our staff and students. What was also pleasing was the cohesive way the project was delivered over the 8 months of work."
Zigabyte Australia Tech Brief - Engagement Brief

An Australian University undertook a significant project to migrate 55,000 on-premises Exchange mailboxes to Microsoft Office 365. The project aimed to address the challenges associated with centralizing mailbox management, reducing hardware and maintenance costs, and improving mailbox security. Additionally, the implementation of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for students and teachers' groups further enhanced data security.

Mailboxes were managed through four different instances for students, teachers, alumni, and other staff. This decentralized setup posed various challenges, including complex mailbox management processes, higher hardware and maintenance costs, and potential security vulnerabilities. As the university grew, these issues became more pronounced, necessitating a comprehensive solution.

Challenges: The migration project faced the following key challenges:

  1. Centralized Management: The decentralization of mailboxes made it difficult to streamline administrative processes and ensure consistent management practices.
  2. Infrastructure Costs: Maintaining on-premises hardware for hosting such a large number of mailboxes incurred substantial expenses.
  3. Maintenance Overhead: The in-house Exchange server required regular maintenance and updates, demanding additional resources and manpower.
  4. Mailbox Security: Ensuring the security and privacy of sensitive data within the mailboxes was of utmost concern for the university.
  5. Multi-Factor Authentication: Implementing MFA for students and teachers required careful planning and execution to avoid disruptions while enhancing security.
Zigabyte Australia Tech Brief - Problem Solution

Solution: To address the identified challenges, the University opted for a comprehensive migration to Microsoft Office 365, including all associated Microsoft Apps. The solution provided the following benefits:

  1. Centralization: By migrating all mailboxes to Office 365, they achieved a centralized platform, simplifying mailbox management and ensuring consistent administrative practices.
  2. Cost Reduction: Moving to a cloud-based solution eliminated the need for in-house hardware, significantly reducing infrastructure costs and related overheads.
  3. Security Enhancement: Microsoft Office 365 offers robust security features, including data encryption, threat protection, and compliance tools, enhancing mailbox security.
  4. Multi-Factor Authentication: Implementing MFA for students and teachers' groups added an extra layer of protection against unauthorized access, bolstering overall security.
  5. Vendor Engagement: Microsoft was engaged as a key vendor for the migration process, ensuring expert assistance and guidance throughout the project's execution.
  6. Budget Management: The project team diligently managed the project budget to control costs effectively and ensure a successful migration within the allocated resources.

Implementation: The migration process involved the following major steps:

  1. Planning: Detailed planning was undertaken to define the migration strategy, identify potential challenges, and establish a timeline for the entire project.
  2. Data Preparation: Mailboxes were organized, and data cleansing processes were performed to ensure data integrity during the migration.
  3. Pilot Migration: A pilot migration was conducted to validate the process and identify any potential issues before proceeding with the full-scale migration.
  4. Full-scale Migration: The migration of all 55,000 mailboxes and associated Microsoft Apps was carried out in phases to minimize disruptions and optimize performance.
  5. MFA Implementation: Multi-Factor Authentication was carefully configured for the students and teachers' groups to enhance security while considering user experience.


PointZ Tech Brief - Problem Solution

The successful migration of 55,000 mailboxes from on-premises Exchange Server to Microsoft Office 365 has provided the University with a centralized, cost-effective, and secure solution for managing its email communications. By addressing the challenges of decentralized management, hardware costs, maintenance overheads, and mailbox security, the university has significantly improved its communication infrastructure while enhancing data protection for students, teachers, and staff.

PointZ Technologies

Technical Lead, Design and management of the virtual team (including vendors).


  • ShareGate to Migrate Microsoft SharePoint environment, BitTitan to migrate the student data, Office 365