How Do I Merge Two Google Workspace Domains?

5 min read
Jan 26, 2023

From merging domains and transferring accounts to rebranding to data migrations to aligning, there are a lot of steps involved in bringing Google Workspace under one, central umbrella. During a merger or acquisition—when companies are most likely to be doing this—it’s easy to overlook certain steps or become overwhelmed with all the details.

A successful M&A depends on multiple factors, all of which involve integration. From people and processes to technology and data, post-merger integration (PMI) fails when organizations don’t have a well-thought-out plan to integrate all of these factors.

If you’re tasked with migrating even just a handful of users, groups and files to Google Workspace following an M&A, you know that it’s not a simple drag-and-drop. There are many factors to consider to ensure a smooth transition—from mobile device settings to email signatures to file sharing permissions.

At the same time, you’re probably under a tight deadline (which is often required by legal agreements during an M&A), yet you need to ensure sharing permissions and security protocols remain in place—all while minimizing disruption to day-to-day business activities. And you may be responsible for change management, too.

That’s a big ask. Yet it needs to be tackled quickly and smoothly. As an IT admin, you need a central view of all Workspace accounts to manage users, data and security. And, if you’re merging two companies, this is also important for branding purposes and change management processes.

Merging identities during an M&A

Google’s Workspace Domain Transfer does not support the merging of user accounts or account deduplication, which can happen during an M&A. For example, if your company has acquired another company, the acquired users may be provisioned with a second account in the new company’s Google Workspace environment.

That means they have one account in the source environment and one in the destination environment. Obviously, this isn’t ideal. To reconcile identities, you need to take additional steps after the transfer process. This isn’t as straightforward as one might assume, and you may need to use different methods for different services.

“There’s no tool that offers a comprehensive way to merge 2 Google Accounts covering all possible Google services. However, there are several consolidation and migration options for the main Google services, such as Gmail, Drive, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts,” according to Google.

Each service within Google Workspace has a different method for exporting and importing data between two Google Workspace accounts. Once the user’s data is consolidated into a single account, you can delete or archive the duplicate account (depending on your data retention policies), which ensures the user only has access to a single Google Workspace account.

Merging Google Workspace domains

This process can be daunting, since you aren’t just merging email—you’re merging everything from contacts and calendars to Drive data. And you want to ensure there’s no data loss or any security/privacy issues during this process.

Need a helping hand merging your Google Workspace accounts during an M&A? Our team can help, from pre-planning to implementation, helping you go from daunting to done in no time.

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You may be required to merge domains from separate managed Google accounts into one managed Google account in order to manage users and services from one console. Google has an official guide for this, though there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. That’s because every organization is different and every M&A is different.

As a baseline, the basic steps to do this are:

Step 1: Choose the primary domain. Only one account can have custom web addresses and domain aliases.

Step 2: Save Google Workspace data. This includes Gmail messages, Calendar events and files stored in Drive (the easiest way to do this is via the data export tool).

Step 3: Merge domains into one account. Cancel the duplicate Google Workspace subscription and delete all but one of the accounts.

Google also recommends:

  • If you saved users’ data: Add the domains for all the accounts you deleted, and import the users’ data from the old account to the new account.
  • If the domain has its own set of users: Add the users to the account and associate them with the domain they should belong to.

If you’re rebranding merged companies, you may need to change the domain for your Google Workspace account, which is an involved process—and not always necessary. Google offers alternatives to switching your domain that are worth exploring.

What about consumer accounts?

During an M&A, you may discover that some acquired employees are using consumer Gmail accounts to access Google services. That means you don’t have control over the configuration, security and life cycle of the accounts.

You’ll want to consolidate any existing consumer accounts so that only managed user accounts have access to Google services in your IT environment. There are four steps in the consolidation process:

  • Migrate consumer accounts to Google Workspace
  • Evict consumer accounts you don’t want to keep
  • Identify and remove access for Gmail accounts
  • Sanitize Gmail accounts that use a corporate email address as an alternate address

As a best practice, don’t change DNS MX records until after you migrate all consumer accounts. Then, after the consolidation is complete, limit authentication by single sign-on to block new consumer accounts from being created.

While you likely have enough on your plate during an M&A, it may be the perfect time to reestablish your Google Workspace security settings and protocols. To help, Pythian’s Google Workspace Security Health Check can provide you with recommendations to harden your security posture.

How Pythian can help

Pythian has a four-step M&A&D offering to help companies with the complexities of merging Google Workspace during a merger, acquisition or divestiture, so companies can focus on what really matters: creating one, unifying culture for all employees.

With our M&A&D Services for Collaboration Platforms, we’ll work with you to migrate your data, establish security protocols and ensure employees are minimally disrupted. We can help during and after a transaction, either as a one-time engagement scoped to a single transaction or as an ongoing engagement tailored to your specific requirements.

We have a four-phased approach to M&A&D that includes identifying which collaboration platforms are in use; designing the technical approach for achieving your interim and target states; transitioning impacted end-users to the interim state while managing day-to-day activities; and, finally, transitioning impacted end-users to the target state.

Our M&A&D services include a comprehensive package that will set your newly merged organizations up for success, including:

  • Best practices consulting
  • Security settings review
  • Data migration
  • Co-existence management
  • Reporting and analysis
  • Change management and communications
  • End-user training
  • Project management

Our long-established Google Workspace practice encompasses a full range of services, from recommending the Google tools that best suit an organization’s needs, to training and support. Plus, our tailored help guides you through managing change, ensuring adoption and leveraging Google Workplace capabilities through PROSCI- and Google-certified change managers.

Don’t go it alone! Learn more about how Pythian can help


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