Ready or not: preparing to make your move
Welcome back to our series on SharePoint 2007 upgrade best practice. If you’ve been keeping up with our series you will, by now, have a good idea of the benefits of migrating from your current SharePoint 2007 to the latest iteration of the market-leading platform.
In our previous post we asked the question of whether you should upgrade from your current SharePoint iteration to SharePoint 2016 on-premises, online, or hybrid. Regardless of whether you’ve fully committed to making the move yet, today’s article will focus on how your company can go about preparing for the migration. We are big advocates for change – upgrading to the latest version of SharePoint can provide your company with a wealth of added functionality.
This is especially for those running the 2007 version; support of the platform is stopping come the end of 2017. While we always advocate using the latest, most secure and powerful tools, we also know that it’s not a simple click-and-go procedure – or at least not straight away. If you have decided to make the move, you will need to be well prepared – and we’re here to help.
Are you ready? Time to assess
The benefits of upgrading to SharePoint 2016 are huge. And with our experience, we know that the key to making the migration as smooth as possible is good preparation. The right preparation is essential for an athlete before a race, just as it is for a student prior to sitting an exam. And it remains a crucial aspect of making the move to SharePoint 2016.
One of the first things you need to do in preparation is to conduct a readiness assessment. A readiness assessment is pretty self-explanatory, being that it means assessing how ready your company is to migrate content to a newer system. The benefit of conducting a readiness assessment is that it can help you pinpoint any potential challenges that might arise when going through the migration process and implementing new SharePoint features in your organisation, therefore making your transition as smooth as possible.
What Content is going to be migrated?
Before you start looking at the technical challenges involved with the migration, you should think about the impact on the business and users. If you go into a migration without taking into consideration the business logic of using the data and content stored in your environment, then you could have significant challenges in making the migration a success.
As a first step, you should identify the business groups who use the content, have workshops with their key employees and understand their requirements. These meetings should be with the actual users rather than the managers as you will get much more detail about how the content is used.
From this solid starting point, you can than assess the readiness of the business to tackle change. We will talk more about this in our next blog.
Volume and time
One of the first things you will want to examine is the volume of content and customisations that you intend to migrate. There is a limit on the rate at which you can migrate content – which means even a simple transfer of content can take time. High volumes of data and mixed media content will obviously take more time, and possibly make the use of 3rd party tools and server-side migration APIs necessary.
Migrating customisations should also be taken into account. By that we mean the customisations you have in place in our current environment may be slightly different in your upgrade—or they might not be available at all. It’s a good idea to see how these will work in advance, or ask how they can be replaced in the new version.
Recommended boundaries vs. supported boundaries vs. technical limitations
Another important area to think about is: supported boundaries and technical limitations within your SharePoint environment. When migrating to SharePoint Online in Office 365 there are software boundaries and limits that you should be aware of. The limits and boundaries most relevant to look into include:
- The number of supported users
- Storage quotas
- File sizes
Complexity of sites
As with other areas, the complexity of your sites is something to take into account when preparing for an upgrade to SharePoint Online. You may have added numerous custom columns in your sites over time, or have created very specific permissions which may not automatically carry through.
Deprecated/removed features and templates
A lot has changed since SharePoint 2007. Something to consider before your move is that certain features that you and your team use all the time will be removed in the 2016 SharePoint Online iteration. That includes: SharePoint Foundation and SQL Server Express. For example, the popular ‘fabulous 40’ templates did not travel beyond the 2007 iteration. This may impact your current way of working as well as licensing requirements. So, it’s important to think ahead and do your research.
If you are currently using SharePoint 2007, you unfortunately cannot just upgrade to 2016 in one fell swoop. Instead, you have to migrate up through the individual versions—that means going from 07, to 2010, to 2013 before finally reaching 2016. The caveat to that is: this only applies if you are using Microsoft’s native database attach migration approach. If you want to leapfrog SharePoint versions you can, but it requires third party migration tools.
Options for migration (manual, PowerShell scripts or a 3rd party tool)
Speaking of leapfrogging: that brings us on to the three options you have for migrating:
Manual – this is the default setting from Microsoft. It’s reliable. But you have to go through every SharePoint iteration on your way to your final destination.
PowerShell Scripts – this is a more technical version of Microsoft’s default migration tool. If you have the expertise in your team this might be a good bet for your migration.
Third party tool – if you don’t have dedicated IT pros that can handle the migration on their own, there are companies out there who have built their reputations on SharePoint moves and upgrades. This might be something to think about which could make your job a lot easier.
Preparation, preparation, preparation!
You should now have a better idea of the importance of a readiness assessment. Being prepared is something we all probably should adopt as a manner of manoeuvring our lives—as the old saying goes: fail to prepare; prepare to fail.
In the penultimate post in our series, we’ll follow up on this readiness assessment with a post on best practices for auditing your content—since SharePoint’s raison d’être is content, this post is certainly not to be missed!
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About our guest author
Partner Solutions Engineer | Metalogix
Chris Thorpe is the partner solutions engineer at Metalogix, who are experts in providing specialist solutions for SharePoint migrations. With a plethora of experience in demonstrating solutions and training clients, mapping out a successful migration is Chris’s bread and butter.
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