Google Workspace is the next evolution of Google’s cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering from Google.  It offers many great features when compared to the now legacy Google G Suite SaaS offering.  With remote work transitions still in place for most organizations looking at extended or even permanent remote work solutions, migrating to the Google Workspace SaaS solution holds many benefits.

However, as with any migration of data and services, there are migration best practices that organizations need to consider when transitioning from on-premises environments.  What are those?  This guide will look at Google Workspace migration best practices to identify key areas of consideration.

Google Workspace migration best practices 

Data migration to Google Workspace allows organizations to utilize highly robust features found in Google’s newest and most fully-featured cloud SaaS environment yet.  Let’s discuss the following Google Workspace migration best practices and how organizations can meet these as they migrate their data to the new Google Workspace cloud.  

  1. Understand the scope of your Google Workspace migration
  2. Decide the license level needed for users migrating to Google Workspace
  3. Isolate Google Workspace PoC environments from production
  4. Implement proper security solutions for Google Workspace
  5. Backup your Google Workspace data

1.  Understand the scope of your Google Workspace migration

One of the first essential steps in any cloud migration is to understand the scope of the migration.  The “scope” can mean different things to different organizations.  However, in general, businesses need to understand:

  1. The number of users that will be migrated
  2. The amount of data to be migrated  

Some organizations may only want to migrate a certain number of users to the cloud for various reasons.  It could be that a particular business unit could benefit from features and capabilities offered in the Google Workspace cloud.  There may also be restructuring or acquisitions that can affect which users are migrated to cloud SaaS environments such as Google Workspace.  

For many companies, migration to Google Workspace may involve all users.  Generally, organizations may perform the migration in a staged rollout where the environment will operate in a hybrid configuration.  Users will be migrated to Google Workspace in batches, departments, or other means until all users are natively over on the Google Workspace platform.

For efficient user migration and understanding of subscription costs, your organization must understand the number of users to be migrated.  This detail will directly correlate with the number of Google Workspace user licenses required.  Google does allow organizations to mix subscriptions for the user.  Users requiring more features or storage space can be enrolled in a higher subscription level.  

Similarly, the amount of data to be migrated is essential to understand.  Google has introduced quite a few changes to the subscription levels in Google Workspace.  It includes introducing a new business pricing tier and lowering the storage amount it allocates by default for their business plans.  It will undoubtedly come into play for organizations migrating users to the Google Workspace cloud as user data will directly impact the subscription level for that user.  This discussion gets us into the next section.

2.  Decide the license level needed for users migrating to Google Workspace

The next best practice for organizations to consider involves determining the license level needed for users migrating to the Google Workspace cloud.  Google has made subscription changes to the Google Workspace offering compared to Google G Suite.  Google Workspace now has four subscription tiers for businesses.  It includes a new Business Plus plan.  The new Business Plus plan adds additional security features compared to the lower business tiers.  

  • Business Starter
  • Business Standard
  • Business Plus
  • Enterprise

Below is a breakdown of the Google Workspace pricing plans as found on the Google Workspace pricing page.  

Google Workspace subscription tiers

Some have noted that Google has removed the unlimited storage from their new Google Workspace subscription plans.  Previous to Google introducing Google Workspace, it offered G Suite Business plans unlimited storage.  Now, none of the Google Workspace plans include unlimited storage besides Enterprise plans.  Google Workspace starter offers 30 GB of cloud storage.  Business Standard and the new Business Plus offer 2 and 5 TB, respectively. 

Organizations migrating to Google Workspace need to perform inventories of the data attached with on-premises users and keep in mind the limits placed at each licensing tier.  Businesses may want to discover the active data currently used to make use of lower license tiers.  

3.  Isolate Google Workspace PoC environments from production

Often, when performing a trial of cloud SaaS environments, it is common for businesses to spin up a proof-of-concept (PoC) environment to evaluate the services.  While PoC environments are conducive to allow organizations to evaluate service offerings in cloud SaaS environments, you want to be careful to ensure that PoC environments do not inadvertently become production before these are officially provisioned as such.  The reason for this is simple.  If not provisioned correctly, end-users could start to use the PoC environment as a production environment.  It means data is most likely not secured or protected adequately with backups and proper cybersecurity.  

When this is the case, it can easily lead to data disaster if a PoC environment is used for production.  It means that organizations must isolate their Google Workspace PoC environments from production to ensure the data stored there is only test data.  It is common for these types of test and trial PoC environments to become production. However, organizations must make sure it happens appropriately and with business-critical data protected.

4.  Implement proper security solutions for Google Workspace 

Organizations may think about their cybersecurity solutions as “day 2” objectives for later implementation.  However, like data backups of cloud SaaS environments, cybersecurity should be a priority as soon as the first production data hits the environment.  Cyberattacks can happen at any point where organizations let their guard down.  It might seem that when data is first migrated to Google Workspace, your organization may not fall victim to a cyberattack.  However, environments are quickly found.  New and existing domains are soon on the radar of those sending phishing emails laced with malware, including ransomware.

The migration strategy needs to quickly include cybersecurity initiatives to protect end-users and business-critical data from day one in the cloud.  Google Workspace features basic cybersecurity capabilities that can certainly help to secure your cloud SaaS environment.  However, more robust third-party solutions can offer better, more fully-featured capabilities to protect your data from cyberattacks.  

As a case in point, many of the built-in features that Google provides to protect against ransomware are reactive.  A Google Drive feature called file versioning allows restoring files to a specific point in time.  However, this process does not stop a ransomware infection from compromising your files.  Even if you can roll back to a particular point-in-time, the damage has already been done and will no doubt interrupt business continuity.  

Look for third-party backup solutions that can proactively stop ransomware infections from compromising files in the first place and have automated means to restore any affected data.  This capability will tremendously reduce the damage and any impact on business continuity.  

Even in the process of migrating data to Google Workspace, ransomware can infect both your on-premises and cloud SaaS data.  Treat this as a top priority as data is migrated to the Google Workspace cloud and ensure you have security solutions in place to provide that layer of protection.

5.  Backup your Google Workspace Data

Backups are an important activity that can ensure your business-critical data is protected.  When all else fails, and a cyberattack compromises your defenses and data is corrupted, stolen, deleted, or encrypted, backups provide the means to reconstruct your environment and bring services and systems back online.  Data backups are arguably the most crucial cyberdefense that you have.  

In like manner with providing cybersecurity protection as soon as data begins to migrate to Google Workspace, data backups should be equally important.  When the first “bit” of information migrates to the cloud, ensure you have a backup of the data so that it can be restored quickly in the event of a data disaster.

Business-critical data can also be at risk due to end-user activities in addition to cyberattacks.  Users can inadvertently delete, modify, or otherwise change files in a way that leads to data loss.  Google Workspace offers file versioning.  However, it does not contain proper enterprise backup features such as setting custom retention policies and other features.  Many businesses attempt to use Google services such as Vault or Keep as a pseudo backup solution.  However, relying on these “backup” solutions natively in Google Workspace will ultimately lead to data loss and disrupted business continuity.

Again, third-party solutions can help businesses protect their data using capabilities needed in the enterprise.  It includes having the control, visibility, and tools to take charge of your data.    

Google Workspace Migration best practices with Spin One

In the realm of cybersecurity and data protection, key features are missing from Google Workspace.  Third-party tools and solutions can help augment those missing features and allow organizations to take a proactive stance to protect and back up their data.  SpinOne is a fully-featured Google Workspace backup solution and cybersecurity suite that provides critical protection to your business-critical data in Google Workspace.

Organizations performing a G Suite data migration from on-premises to the Google cloud SaaS environment can rely on the modern capabilities provided by SpinOne.  It uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to monitor your Google Workspace environment for anomalous behavior proactively.  It automatically provides versioned, effective backups and melds data protection and cybersecurity together to defeat ransomware that attacks your Google Workspace environment.

SpinOne ransomware protection uses the following 5-step approach:

  1. AI and ML-driven ransomware detection scanner identifies new attacks
  2. SpinOne automatically blocks access to the Google Workspace environment from the malicious process
  3. It automatically identifies the files that may have been affected by the ransomware
  4. The files are recovered automatically, without administrator intervention (This can also be carried out manually).
  5. Security alerts notify Google Workspace administrators of the ransomware attack     

Even though cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) environments have come a long way in the features and capabilities provided to organizations, leaving your data to the default protections built into the platform is like leaving your data to chance.

SpinOne allows businesses to proactively take charge of both the visibility and protection of their data and provides the tools to do this effectively.  To learn more about the data protection and cybersecurity features provided by SpinOne, sign up for a fully-featured trial version here.