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Many school districts are looking at moving their local email to the cloud.    Both Microsoft and Google provide enterprise level hosted email solutions. Depending on what on-premise email server you use will determine the cost and effort required to migrate.

Practical Solutions IT has experience in migrating from Microsoft Exchange and Novell's Groupwise to both Microsoft Office365 and Google Apps / Gmail.   

A K12 Only Solution Provider with over 30 years of experience

Email Migration

Office365 - Microsoft offers multiple tools to migrate your Exchange servers to Office365.  Depending on school district size and requirements, schools may wish to perform an immediate cutover migration or hybrid for a gradual move to the cloud.  If your district is using other on-site email solutions such Groupwise, there are third party companies that provide software to migrate your email to Office365.

Google Apps Email - Google offer tools to migrate your local email servers such as Exchange and other IMAP servers to Google's Gmail.  There are also third party vendors that offer migration tools if the free tools are not sufficient for your environment.   As with Office365, the size and goals of the district will determine the migration process to deploy.

Active Directory Synchronization

Synchronize your Active Directory user and groups into either your Office365 or Google Apps domains.

Azure Connect / Password Sync Setup - Synchronize your Active Directory accounts into your Office365 domain.  

Google Cloud Sync (GCS) and Google Password Sync (GAPS)- Synchronize your Active Directory accounts into your Google Apps domain.

Custom Tools

Office365/Google Distribution Group Builder - In many cases, schools may not wish to replicate your standard security groups to Office365 or Google. The Office365/GoogleDGBuilder will build distribution groups based on Active Directory OUs for students and staff.  As students and staff move between schools their distribution group membership dynamically changes and then those changes are replicated to Office365 and Google.

Office365 Field Editor - Dirsync will synchronize your Active Directory accounts and a "sub-set" of the users Active Directory fields.   These fields can be used in Office365 for building views and to dynamically define groups, transport rules and licensing.  Office365 Field Editor can be used to automatically define fields for students and staff and replicated to Office365 for those purposes.

Migrate Home Folder Data to OneDrive

Many school districts wish to move their student and staff home folders from their onsite servers to cloud storage.   There are several very good, low cost solutions to migrate home folders to OneDrive in Office365.  This saves the district time and money in managing local data and allows students and staff to access their data from anywhere with any device.  You can even use the tool below to map a drive letter to the user's OneDrive so simulates the same drive mapping your users are use to seeing.

Drive Mapping OneDrive for Business

Office386 OneDrive for Business can actually be mapped with a standard drive letter similar to a home folder.   For schools that want to move their student's home folders to their OneDrive for Business site, this is a viable option to access it. When the student login to their Active Directory account, a login script can map a drive letter directly to their OneDrive data.

There are several options for this, but a free option is a Power Shell script that can be downloaded from the link below.  It is called OneDriveMapper and is provided by Jos Lieben, an IT consultant from the Netherlands.

If you would like assistance in setting it up or customizing it, Practical Solutions IT would be glad to help.

PowerShell - Custom Tools

Office365 Licensing - Setup automated licensing for students and staff based on Office365 Field Editor.

TimeZone and Location - Setup automated task to setup the TimeZone and US location for the Outlook Web App.