Update on Exchange Public Folders: Migrating Away

This is the third of a short series of bulletins on Exchange public folders. We discuss:

  • What they are and how they're used (first bulletin)
  • The problems of public folders (second bulletin)
  • The migration options and the main issues to consider when migrating (this bulletin)

Main Alternatives
There are various alternatives to public folders. Microsoft’s SharePoint is the main one.

However, the alternative adopted will depend on the type of public folder used. In particular, pay attention to folders used for:

  • Receiving email from the outside
  • End-users "dragging and dropping" email from their Inbox
  • Calendars being used for meeting requests as well as appointments
  • Application integration

Determining the type of use helps establish whether SharePoint is the right repository. Sometimes an archive solution, contact management platform, or a shared mailbox may be more appropriate. There are also alternatives for the system uses of public folders. For example, organizational forms can be replaced by InfoPath, and Free/Busy lookups can be done via the Availability Service.

Migration Steps
It's hard to migrate away from public folders. The key steps are to:

  • Identify the data that is definitely stale and the data that is definitely used. Typically a stale folder has no posts in the last two years; a used one has posts in the last two weeks.
  • Survey owners of the remaining unknown-status folders to categorize as either stale or used. The owner can approve the need of the folder as well as identify who should or should not have access to the data.
  • Phase out stale folders through a staged deletion approach.
  • Add structure and validate permissions on used folders.
  • Migrate to the alternative repository.

The migration process is inevitably one that requires a lot of human attention. All the same, some tools can assist in the process.

Useful auditing tools are:

  • Quest MessageStats. Provides information on inventory, stale public folders, and reports on both data and permissions.
  • StealthAUDIT for Exchange. Provides the ability to send a survey to public folder owners with optional actions against individual public folders.

The following migrate data and permissions to SharePoint:

Specialized professional services firms can also help, such as SPHERE Technology Solutions.

... David Ferris and Rita Gurevich. Rita is founder of SPHERE Technology Solutions, a professional services organization that focuses on data management and clean-up initiatives in the Microsoft infrastructure.

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