Migrating SharePoint to Office 365 – Best (Recommended) Practices

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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

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Upgrading vs. Migration to SharePoint 2016

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Choosing the right path to the new version of SharePoint, whether on-premises or online, can be overwhelming. Should you upgrade or migrate? It is important to understand that upgrade and migration are not synonymous. Some may disagree, but I truly believe that these are two different processes. Let’s get a better understanding of both options.

Upgrade

The technical terminology of upgrading is the physical transformation of a SharePoint content database from one schema version to the updated schema. The most common upgrade process is attaching your existing databases to the new SharePoint farm. The content remains the same, even though your new farm may be on a new hardware. From a non-technical perspective, it’s similar to remodeling your home – taking what’s old and making it new with a few more modern conveniences.

spupgrade

Migration

Migration is the physical move of SharePoint containers, data and associated attributes from one SharePoint farm to the new updated farm. The process is typically carried out with the aid of commercial tools. Again, using my non-technical comparison of a migration, it’s like moving from a house to a condo.

spmigration

Now that we’ve seen the differences between the two, the next question is making the choice of whether to upgrade your platform or to migrate out of your current implementation.

Here are some examples of where an upgrade is recommended:

  • You’re running an out-of-support version of SharePoint
  • You need to upgrade the SharePoint farm operating system
  • Your site collections and content databases are properly architected
  • Your existing taxonomy / information architecture is well-formed and supports your current organizational structure

And here are some examples of when a migration is recommended:

  • The source document repository is not SharePoint
  • You’re migrating to SharePoint Online (Office 365)
  • You’re migrating from older SharePoint versions (SharePoint 2010 and previous)
  • Your taxonomy / information architecture needs to be redesigned
  • Content databases are too large and need to be split to improve performance or to meet your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) or Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

In summary, upgrade and migration are two different options. The best approach depends on your requirements, constraints, and business objectives. It is important to mention that certain considerations must be taken into account when deciding whether upgrading or migrating is appropriate for your organization.

Centric has assisted many organizations with upgrades and migrations. To learn more about how Centric Consulting can help with your decision to upgrade or migrate, visit us at CentricConsulting.com