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Deployment Process Overview


Applies to: Office 365 Dedicated Plans

Topic Last Modified: 2012-12-04

An Office 365 dedicated plans deployment project is a multi-phase effort that involves detailed planning and numerous workstreams. To help coordinate the work and keep the project on track, your organization and Microsoft will each assign personnel to manage the project and oversee the workstreams. Microsoft will monitor the overall progress of the project through the completion of defined milestones and periodic checkpoints.

The following information can help you understand the dedicated plans deployment process.

Before starting your dedicated deployment project, your organization and Microsoft should have completed several preliminary activities to confirm that your organization is able to move forward with your deployment. Two of these key activities are:

  • Solutions Alignment Workshop. At this workshop, you and Microsoft examine how well Office 365 offers align with your organization's requirements and identify how to resolve any gaps in the alignment.
  • Migration Due Diligence. This activity follows completion of the Solution Alignment Workshop and addresses technical areas of the deployment that have greater complexity. It helps your organization get a quick start on the long lead time tasks and any remediation work required for your environment.

A dedicated plans deployment project is divided into three phases: Plan, Prepare and Migrate.

  • Plan Phase. This phase primarily focuses on gathering detailed information about your environment—a process called "discovery." Microsoft uses the discovery information to identify the environment configurations that your organization and Microsoft must make to successfully deploy your Office 365 services.
  • Prepare Phase. This phase is focused on establishing network connectivity, carrying out the environment configuration tasks identified in the Plan Phase, and building out the services (for example, Exchange Online) that your organization will use. Testing and validation of service performance is another key activity during the Prepare Phase.
  • Migrate Phase. During this phase, the bulk of your Office 365 users are migrated to the Exchange Online service. The migration period can take several days or several months depending on the number of users you are moving to Office 365.

A set of milestones and checkpoints are used in a dedicated plans deployment project to ensure that important deployment tasks are started and completed according to an established workflow.

A milestone represents a Microsoft-defined deployment activity. Microsoft deployment personnel incorporate a number of milestones into the deployment project plan. Two key milestones that are frequently referenced in this deployment guide are the Service Ready milestone and Start of Customer Validation of Service (CVS) milestone. When the Service Ready milestone is completed, your Office 365 infrastructure and services have reached a working state. When the Start of Customer Validation of Service is reached, your organization can begin testing your Office 365 services to validate that they perform according to the established criteria.

Checkpoints are project status review meetings that occur at regular intervals to verify that key milestones and deployment requirements are completed prior to continuing with the deployment. Checkpoint meetings are attended by key deployment team members from Microsoft and your organization. At these meetings, the deployment teams verify that the checkpoint requirements are met and review the workstreams and requirements that must be completed prior to the next checkpoint meeting.

The following five checkpoints are used in a dedicated deployment project:

  • Checkpoint 1 – Planning Complete
  • Checkpoint 2 – Infrastructure Complete
  • Checkpoint 3 – Configuration Complete
  • Checkpoint 4 – Start of Customer Validation of Service (CVS)
  • Checkpoint 5 – Customer Business Deployment

The following figure illustrates the workflow for key tasks in a dedicated deployment project and where project checkpoints occur.


Microsoft anticipates that your organization will modify many of your existing business process in order to use the standard features available with Office 365 dedicated plans solutions. However, in cases where you feel it is necessary to request that Microsoft make service configuration changes in order to meet your business requirements, Microsoft provides a process that enables you to formally submit your change request.

There are two types of changes requests that you can submit:

  1. Standard Configuration Request. Standard Configuration Requests are a set of service configuration changes that Microsoft makes available to all dedicated plans customers. To implement any of these pre-approved changes, you complete the required request form (template) for each change and submit it to Microsoft.
  2. New Feature Request. A New Feature Request is a design change request for a future Office 365 product or service release. Microsoft will review all New Feature Requests and prioritize them for possible implementation in future releases based on how well the request aligns with the planned evolution of the Office 365 services and needs of all customers.
Change requests that are submitted after the deployment project has reached Scope Lock will be either deferred until deployment is complete or will trigger a re-evaluation of the project timeframe commitments.

Long lead time tasks are deployment activities that typically take significant time to complete. To avoid causing project delays, long lead time tasks are addressed very early in the deployment project. You will identify all long lead lime tasks prior to the start of the deployment project as part of the Migration Due Diligence process. The following deployment activities are considered long lead time tasks.

Network Connectivity and VPN Setup

Establishing network connectivity between your environment and the Microsoft data centers involves a number of prolonged tasks. Your organization will need to configure routing, place circuit orders, and provision connectivity equipment or Internet IPSec VPN connectivity.

Your organization and Microsoft begin configuration of connectivity as soon as possible using a virtual private network (VPN). Microsoft network engineers and your engineers work together to configure, test, and activate routing between Microsoft and your organization. After the VPN is activated, planning and provisioning for permanent connectivity proceeds. See Establishing Data Center Connectivity for more about network provisioning and connectivity.

The Microsoft Project Manager will work with you to ensure that you process your circuit order at the beginning of the Plan Phase. Circuit installation can have lead times in excess of 20 weeks, depending on the geographical location of your Microsoft data centers.

Directory Data Error Check and Remediation

To enable users in your organization to access Office 365 services, Activity Directory objects and attributes in your environment must be synchronized to the Active Directory implementation in the Microsoft environment. Any errors that occur during directory synchronization between your environment and the Office 365 environment can have significant negative impact on the deployment project. If numerous directory errors persist after the initial synchronization process between the two environments, your organization will need to identify and remediate these errors and then resynchronize your directory with Microsoft. If multiple resyncs are required, it can add weeks to the deployment project timeline.

Microsoft provides you with guidance for preparing the list of attributes that are used in the synchronization and provisioning process. Microsoft also makes available a tool for you to use to verify that your Active Directory configuration meets the requirements for directory synchronization.

SMTP Namespace Consolidation

If possible, your organization should consolidate their primary SMTP addresses. The certification authority Entrust will need to contact owners of the primary domains to confirm that Office 365 can create certificates on their behalf.

Any concerns or issues regarding domain ownership need to be resolved prior to the Exchange Online build out.

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