How did I move my mother’s email and my wife’s web site to Office365, and didn’t get killed in the process // Part 1: decisions

I am a software developer. Period. By all rules, this should make me an infrastructure-dummy, someone who gets sick when he gets to see an installed system without Visual Studio. Now, I am a SharePoint developer, as well, and that relativizes that fact a bit – we do need to regularly install server stuff to our development environment, and we are not that bad in that whole infrastructure thing. But still – we do it because we must, not because we like to. That’s a fact.

And I am a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional). That should, by default, characterize me as someone who is close to the whole Microsoft technology stack – and that would be true. Apart from few minor infidelities (yes, I have an iPad), I stay close to Microsoft technology. Why? Simply while it has never failed me. Or at least, not that many times. Anyway, better than anything else that exists on the market.

But, there is one dark corner, in each human being, which you are not particularly proud of, and which you don’t want to show publically. In my case, it’s a Linux Server. Yes, I poses a small virtual Linux Server, hosted somewhere else (in the cloud, we would tell nowadays). And why do I have one? It has a legacy thing. You see, this blog that you are reading right now is powered by a PHP script (WordPress) running on that box. And my private mail server is there. My private mail address, and those of my wife, and my parents, and some other people… Few domains are parked there. And few legacy web sites. All the crap which I made, uploaded, collected, stored, temporarily stored, since almost 15 years. Oh, yes, and the most important thing: my wife’s web site. She is a freelance literature translator, she depends on her web site quite a lot. And she’s my wife. The married ones among you will understand.

And you know what? It all functions pretty well. Sort of…

I installed Office 2013 Preview. Outlook is there, of course. My business email, and my private email (an IMAP account on that box). While Exchange account was immediately working like a charm with new Outlook, IMAP account did have its problems. Like, mails composed in Outlook would be sent, but they stayed in the “draft” mode in the Sent Items IMAP folder. Yes, I sent few important mails twice because of that… embarrassing. And that old problem of IMAP, that it cannot store rules on the server, so each time you install a fresh copy of Outlook, it’s rules recreation time… Pain. And few other minor problems, in any case, enough to get frustrated about it. And to complain publically about it on Facebook and Twitter.

And that’s a great thing about social networks: getting to know different perspective. A dear friend of mine, Austrian Office 365 MVP Martina Grom has sent me a tweet “Why don’t you use Office365 for your mails?

Now, I am not an Office365 dummy. In contrary, I think I held one of the first O365 sessions in Europe, back in April 2011, at Microsoft WinDays conference. It was exactly on that day when O365 beta was publically available – I even had a live-development demo with two sandbox webparts (yes, Martina, sandbox! Smile). But, somehow, Office365 was for me only SharePoint Online. Sure, I saw the Exchange and Lync buttons there, but… Neh. I tried that story, once, 3-4 years ago, trying to move my mail accounts to Google, and that was a pure horror. I was back on my Linux box in matter of days. I didn’t want to repeat the same mistake…

cloud appsAnd honestly, I was thinking: X domains, Y small web sites, thousands of files which I have uploaded sometime for someone, my blog, my blog uploads, my blog archives, many mailboxes, all with aliases, many with forwarders etc… No, that would never work. I can’t move that to Office 365. It just wouldn’t work. Or would it?

Now, there is a German word, untranslatable in English, Bosnian, or any other language for that matter – “Schweinehund”. Literally, it’s an animal which is a crossover between a dog and a pig. And that animal prevents you of doing things, which are easy, and totally possible, by always creating new reasons in your head, why you shouldn’t do it. You guess: I had a Schweinehund. Migrating my crap to Office 365 just wouldn’t work.

Now, I obviously needed some help with that, and that help was provided to me by another friend od mine, and a great colleague, SharePoint MCM (Microsoft Certified Master) Aleksandar Draskovic, who was patiently, and on a cool Bosnian way, destroying each single reason that Schweinehund was coming up with. Can I keep web hosting on my Linux box? Yes of course. But still move one subdomain to public web site of SharePoint online, where main domain stays on Linux box? Yes. And Mail would be on Exchange? Yes. Lync would work as well? Yes. And that all would not cost me my holidays to set it up (remember, I am a developer, for God’s sake!)? No.

Screw it. I stayed without arguments. And so I did it.

In the next few days, and next few blog posts, you will read here how I did it (with visual guide). What I had to do in the process, where are the pitfalls. On one side, Linux box with cPanel control panel, on another side Office365. On the end, merger of both, and the best thing – it is working as a charm.

Until then…

(And yes, my wife’s web site has been migrated as well!)