How do you automate network drives transformation to Microsoft365 ?


I’m writing this article to outline a reference architecture for scenarios related to an accelerated transformation of data residing in network drives to cloud platforms for easy access and advanced information governance capabilities.

For many corporations work now increasingly happens in Microsoft365, where information governance and corporate knowledge features are well integrated. However, a critical mass still lives in network/ shared drives. You can refer to other insightful articles on this topic by my colleague Brian Tuemmler.

I am introducing an accelerated approach to replace your network drives with secure cloud storage, which is more easily accessible to remote/first-line workers with the benefits of all the security, and governance features in Microsoft cloud.

If your objective is to rapidly scale up your cloud transformation without spending months in migrating your network drive data, you should consider the following approach:

  • Step 1: High-level inventory of your network file shares

  • Step 2: Leverage Microsoft Azure data box services to replicate your data in Microsoft Azure (with all the permissions and security controls)

  • Step 3: Once the data is in Azure, we leverage Azure AI pipeline services to perform a cognitive assessment of your data

Note: Users continue to access existing drives while analysis happens

  • Step 4: The cognitive and intelligent content services provide predefined analysis templates which leverage the enormous scale of Azure compute to perform rapid analysis and present analyzed data in various categories to aid human decision making

  • Step 5: The decisions lead to automated actions to either delete or migrate the data to Microsoft 365 or manage in-place as file share with enhanced governance in Microsoft Azure

Note: For migration to Microsoft365 you can leverage existing migration products in the market some of them are now well integrated with high-speed migration and ability to apply governance rules as information is migrated to Microsoft 365.

  • Step 6: Transition your users to Microsoft cloud and decommission network drives

The above approach significantly boosts the time to cloud adoption compared to traditional approaches of analyzing the data in situ and migration to SharePoint online using migration tools.

Key benefits include:

  • Accelerated cloud migration especially for corporates dependent on VPN connections for remote workers to access corporate data

  • Azure file shares are just like network drives and can be mapped as network drives to access data. This means you can disconnect network drives a lot sooner in the entire process

  • Azure file shares are also great when you need network shares for applications dependent on a file share to manage application files

  • We see often indexing and content assessment capabilities require third party software which does not perform well within the limited capacity and compute attached to network drives. We address this Azure by moving performance-intensive analysis to Azure

  • Our proposed use of Azure pipelines is cost-effective as these cognitive services are reusable and AI-driven decision making will reduce the burden on your staff empowering them to focus on essential business activities

This significantly improves information access and control but also reduces operating costs and risks by accelerating your move to the cloud. Clients leveraging the accelerated migration have seen costs savings within 6 months, and up to $8M over 5 years.

You can find more about this approach by contacting me at

An Infotechtion legacy system assessment will provide you with the following:

  • An analysis of how M365 can be set up to replace your legacy systems

  • A business case outlining costs, savings, and return of investments

  • A high-level plan for how to test and verify that M365 can replace your legacy systems

  • Recommendations for how to fast-track content migration

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