Church Merger and Domain Change Help

So…we are in the process of merging with another church to form a brand new church. We are the larger of the two churches and use Active Directory (2008 SBS) and Office 365. The other church has no IT dept and uses the G Suite. They are a %100 Apple shop while we are about 50% Apple 50% Windows. The new church name has just been revealed and I’m being asked to change our email addresses over to the new domain name and onboard the staff from the other church by easter. I know there is a big domino effect when taking on this kind of project so I would love to hear the thoughts and recommendations of this community. How easy is it to change our 365 domain? How does this trickle down to our local AD? Just how big is the domino effect? Where in the timeline should I migrate the G Suite users to 365 and what is the best way to do that? Are there any particular pitfalls in this project I should be aware of? How much will I hate my life before this is over? Thx… for whatever you guys can offer.

How many users will you have? Adding domains to O365 and G-Apps is pretty easy.

How old are your on-prem servers?

Honestly, none of this should be too terribly daunting.
I’m assuming your existing AD/O365 is integrated for account and password syncing. If so, you’ll want to start by adding the new domain as an alternate UPN in AD. Then you want to also add it and the old G Suite domain as additional domains in O365. Then you can start working on changing users in AD which will sync to O365 (just a few for testing before doing it full-scale). Obviously you need to think about keeping the old addresses around as aliases for awhile. Just take slow, methodical steps and you should be fine.

For Gmail, just purchase some licenses from Bittitan (migrationwiz) and use their excellent tool to migrate your G Suite data into O365.

Lots of help from folks here if you get stuck along the way. And of course a few of us consultant-types happy to help in a more ‘engaged’ way if you need or want it.

Thanks Travis…that was very helpful. Just one more question. Will I have to change any of the DNS records (public or internal) that pertain to our Office 365 setup? Thanks.

Hey Brendan…we will have about 60-65 users. Servers are 6 yrs old.

I have done migrations from Gsuite to Office365 and Office365 to Gsuite. Both platforms have their own migration wizards which works but the Office365 incoming migration tool works more reliably than Gsuite’s.

Danny, when you add a new email domain to O365 the wizard will walk you through the verification process to confirm domain name ownership. You will need to point the domain nameservers to O365’s. O365 will automatically create all the necessarily DNS records for the new domain.

And you shouldn’t need to change any internal DNS records unless you have existing A/CNAME records internally that maps your old domains to internal urls.

I think Norman answered this well. YES, you need to update external DNS records for your NEW domain and eventually your G Suite domain assuming you want to keep those addresses alive and working post-migration into O365.

Real quick, now would be a good time to decide whether or not to jump in and use those Enterprise mobility and security donations because it might actually end up being a better long term strategy to use Azure AD and Intune than fussing with changing the AD domain. Just something I would evaluate at least. :wink:

If your AD server is 6 years old, you should look at getting new hardware with Windows Server 2019. Server lifespan should be around 5-7 years. I just had a IBM x3650 failed after 6 years.

Thanks guys…this is really helpful info. So, just to clarify let’s say I work for church A and the church we’re merging with is church B and the new church name is AB. I currently have internal CNAME records for domain A that includes autodiscover, lyncdiscover, etc. How would that look after I created the alternate UPN for domain AB? Am I modifying these records or adding new ones? Thx. Sorry for all the questions…I’ve never had to do this before.

In most cases you don’t need INTERNAL records for any of those things. Depends on your AD domain name and setup really. But I would certainly suggest trying to only deal with those records in EXTERNAL DNS.

Got it Travis…thanks again.

So…there seems to be somewhat of an inhouse debate about whether we should continue with 365 or go G Suite. I’m only familiar with 365. How difficult is it to migrate 365 to G Suite and how would you integrate an internal AD infrastructure with Google? Not saying we are going that route but I just want to be more informed about it. Thanks.

I’m honestly not surprised to hear you’re having this debate. If you search these forums, I’m sure there’s lots of good thoughts and info shared on this topic. Pay careful attention to licensing rules/costs particularly as it relates to any nonprofit discounts they do/don’t offer.

As for the migration piece, totally doable to move from O365 to G Suite. I’d again highly recommend using the MigrationWiz toolset. And you CAN do password sync from AD on-prem to G Suite as well.

Ultimately this decision comes down to a culture decision as well as a familiarity with licensing stipulations and willingness to pay for tools necessary to do business the way you want to do them.
We (Enable Ministry Partners) highly recommend and encourage the O365 suite. We feel it provides much more capability and value than G Suite, but we have clients using both effectively.

Thanks again Travis…very helpful.

It is possible to keep them both. It depends on if you have to pay for both.

The smaller church has been living in the cloud for some time.
The larger church is due for a cloud or hybrid upgrade (along with most orgs).

If it takes 6+ years to get a DC replacement, you might find it a lot easier to go the G Suite route and just focus on making it more secure and better managed.

If I was in your shoes, I’d bring in a third party to give me an assessment and help come up with a plan and budget. That will help get buy-in from senior leadership and accounting.

Thanks Brendan…I appreciate those thoughts

Great thoughts. Though I think to be fair, O365 is (or can be) just as much of a ‘cloud solution’ as G Suite.

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GSuite… don’t do it! You have so much left to live for! Kidding aside, it makes no sense to go with Google given the capabilities of the O365 and EM&S donations. The only caveat is that the amount of stuff you can do with O365/Azure is mind-bogglingly expansive, to the point that all the stuff you have access to and the capabilities available can feel overwhelming at times. :exploding_head:

I’m going through a re-branding with a client church right now. One “gotcha” to point out, is that there is currently no supported way to change the O365 tenant name in the SharePoint (and OneDrive/Teams) URLs. You’ll be stuck with “church A” in those, unless you create a whole new tenant and migrate everything. That’s no fun either.

Apparently, the feature to rename URLs is being worked on, but no response from MS in the Uservoice thread since Jan 2018. One poster from Nov 2018 indicates that there is a beta process that can be accessed by working with Office 365 support.