Microsoft Office 365 user population has recently hit 85 million commercial users (http://www.winbeta.org/news/office-365-install-base-increases-to-85-million-active-commercial-and-24-million-consumer-users). As the user base continues to grow, we’ve seen a growing interest amongst our clients in moving their on-premises SharePoint farms to Office 365. The most critical part of a SharePoint migration project involves planning for the migration itself. With the different number of factors involved including the limitations of out-of-the-box migration options, this can complicate the project and introduce undesirable risk. It is critical to plan a SharePoint migration carefully and fully take into account all variables involved in the migration process.

Once a decision is made to move your SharePoint sites to the Office 365, you will need to consider – what does success look like to you? Whether the new platform is SharePoint Online or Hybrid, the following recommendations could be used as starting points for your migration.

Pre-migration:

  • If you have SharePoint On-premises, run the OnRamp for Office 365 Tool to assist you with discovery activities related to Office 365 deployment (screenshot below)

office365onramptool

  • Custom domain – if you plan on using your own domain (ex: contonso.com), make sure this domain has been verified
  • Make sure Office 365 tenant is ready – licenses, connectivity (network/firewall), and security must be in place
  • On-premises AD schema and forest functional level – MUST be at Windows Server 2003 or later if you plan on using Azure AD Connect
  • Prepare Active Directory before synchronize – run IdFix on your on-prem Active Directory and fix errors on accounts targeted to be synchronized
  • ADFS – if you consider deploying ADFS, you’ll need to use SSL Certificates
  • Take an inventory – this includes content, information architecture, design, and custom solutions
  • Decide what to move – take only what you will need – archive and delete redundant and/or legacy data
  • Prioritize and classify all content – tag content with metadata including Business Unit, and any other relevant data. Prioritize content with criteria such as business critical, important, nice to have, etc.
  • Select the right migration tool – Many commercial tools are available to assist with migrating to Office 365
  • Communication – some people tend to forget – make sure to communicate, communicate, and communicate

Migration:

  • Start with a pilot migration – use a representative sample of data to confirm technical feasibility of the migration, and identifies gaps
  • Migrate in batches – for larger organizations, divide content in batches to migrate

Post-migration:

  • Testing and validation – validates the success of the migration from the perspective of whether or not the infrastructure of the target environment meets the requirements of the business; this includes network latency, permission, custom solutions, etc. Repeat this process for each batch of the migration.
  • Transition of users – this includes ‘freezing’ the source environment, and perform one final synchronization of changes, and transitioning users to the target environment. Again, repeat this process for each batch of the migration.

In conclusion, migration of existing business content to SharePoint Online is not trivial. Ideally, organizations should spend time planning, discovering, and auditing the content, starting with the pre-migration checklist above. Lastly, whenever possible, comprehensive testing after each migration batch should be performed to minimize risk.

Centric has assisted many organizations with SharePoint and Office 365 upgrades and migrations. To learn more about how Centric Consulting can help with your upgrade or migration, visit us at CentricConsulting.com