I like to get out of the office whenever I can, and last week I visited a local junior school to help them with their upgrade from Live@edu to Office 365 for education. This was the first time I had hands on experience of a live upgrade, so here are my 5 top tips for upgrading from Live@edu to Office 365 for education.

My top tips, as well as a whole bunch of other useful information can be found in the Live@edu upgrade wiki, so be sure to check that out too!

1. Document your existing configuration

It’s probably been a while since you deployed Live@edu – in fact, you might not even be the person who did it in the first place. Not every feature is carried over to Office 365 for education during the upgrade; specifically, the supervision policies that are available in Live@edu need to be manually re-created once the upgrade has completed.

If you’re using the Closed Campus, Bad Word, or Anti-Bullying policies at the moment you’ll need to note down how they’re configured. For example, you might have the closed campus policy enabled for students, but members of staff can email anyone – it’s this sort of thing you need to write down (or put into OneNote!).

Follow the links below to find out more about the pre-upgrade tasks you should carry out to ensure a smooth upgrade.

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2. Make sure everybody knows a change is coming

There are likely to be some changes that your staff and students will see once the upgrade is complete. This might include new services, or a change to the URL they use. Whatever the change, ensuring that your users know it is coming is important.

Consider sending out an email (before the upgrade!) to every user with some information about new features they might be getting, such as Lync Online, or SharePoint Online. You could also create some posters to go up in the IT suites, or maybe include a note in the staff bulletin. Some larger customers even printed up some t-shirts for their IT staff to wear as they worked around campus so that everyone knew about the new services.

    3. Plan your downtime

    You can kick off the upgrade any time you like up to the point when you’ve been scheduled for automatic upgrade. This means you don’t have to do it during work hours. In fact, it is better to wait until the end of the working day, or the weekend to complete the upgrade. While my first hand experience of the process showed that you can successfully complete a small school in an afternoon, bigger customers will take longer. A weekend might be better.

    4. Re-create your configuration

    Following on from step 1 you’ll need to re-create any policies as transport rules. Refer back to your notes and follow the links below for tips on how to go about re-configuring.

    This is an ideal time to familiarise yourself with PowerShell if you’ve never used it before. PowerShell is a great way to simplify big tasks and reduce the time it takes to carry them out.

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    5. Consider password resets

    Password security is important – that goes without saying. Whether you opt to go for identity federation through AD FS 2.0 or Shibboleth, or to manage your passwords in Office 365 you could use this opportunity to encourage everyone to update their passwords – you could even set passwords to expire every so many days if you wanted to be extra security conscious.

    If you do not opt for identity federation users will have to go through the self-service password reset process.

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