Migrating, in-house, to the Cloud and otherwise

by sharepointbitme

“Moving to the cloud” is a hot topic right now, but it is important to make sure the move is being done for reasons that make sense for your organization. First “The Cloud” can mean a few things in this context. The most familiar to most people is Office 365, but there are also options such as dedicated hosting and building a “private cloud” for many of your IT assets that can function in a manner similar to on-premise installations.

For our purposes I will focus on the Office 365 option and in the next installment we will talk about the next buzzword after CLOUD, namely HYBRID.

To be fair, I took most of this article from an email I sent to a customer who had some questions about migrating to the cloud, and it really has very little to do with the cloud. There is a reason for that. The cloud is a new way of doing things, but it isn’t always a better way of doing things. Some basic rules apply and sometimes we forget them. I will also point out some things about an in house migration to a newer version of SharePoint.

Tips/Tricks on how to prepare for migration and what NOT to do

The summary of all of the points below could be a simple as, “Don’t move junk and fix past mistakes.”

  1. Consider your target audiences and authentication

  • SharePoint online is not a good candidate for Public Internet sites where you don’t want to require users to be authenticated before gaining access.

  • SharePoint Online is intended for Intranet and Extranet sites where information is not available to the general public, only authenticate users.

    • Users can be given accounts on Office 365 that have no connection to their business logins OR

    • Office 365 can be Federated with your local domain so that they can use the same login in the internal network and with SharePoint Online.

  1. Review the structure and governance of the current farm.

  • Flag, and if possible, delete or archive, unneeded content.

  • Work with stakeholders to plan any needed rearrangement of content. Often the way SharePoint grows is not the optimal way to arrange content. Particular things to look for:

    • Dividing or combining content into separate sites or site collections. This can be to improve navigation, permissions, or in the case of on-premise environments to improve database storage sizes.

    • Review and document permissions.

      • Consider simplifying permissions by arranging content by users who need it rather than by static categories. Custom permissions, in particular item level permissions. can have a negative impact on performance.

      • Review and document parties responsible for maintaining permissions, creating/deleting content and sites for all areas.

  1. Review solution packages (WSPs),tools, features and data integrations used with SharePoint currently.

  • Solution Packages cannot be deployed for SharePoint Online.

  • Some Standard features available to SharePoint on-premise may not be or are not available to SharePoint Online (SQL Reporting Services, Visio Services, and Business Connectivity Services, for example.)

  • Data pulled from external systems (particularly through Business Connectivity Services) may not work with SharePoint online or may reworking of their processes.

  1. If at all possible, do at least one “test” migration to look at the content in its new home and look for functional issues.

  • Document any issues and any solutions found for them.

  • Document any changes made to the content or structure of data in the test migration.

  • Invite stakeholders from different areas to preview the “new” farm and give feedback

  1. For SharePoint online, strongly consider a third party tool like Sharegate, Metalogix, or Avepoint for the migration itself. Otherwise content will have to be manually moved through regular uploads. This results in losing a significant amount of metadata and all permissions. There is no database move or attach option available natively.

  2. For on-premise migrations/upgrades there is no in-place upgrade option, building a new farm and attaching copies of you content and service application databases is the most common method but third party tools can be very helpful in this case as well if there is a significant need to restructure content.

Pros/Cons for SharePoint On-Premise or SharePoint Online SharePoint 2016

The Pros of moving to SharePoint Oniine are much the same as any cloud offering. The servers and infrastructure are maintained for you. The product is continually kept up to date. Costs are more predictable, etc. Microsoft is working quickly to get value added to the cloud options so you will see new features here first.

The Cons are actually part of the Pros in some cases. SharePoint Online has been constantly and somewhat rapidly evolving. Some customers are not comfortable with features appearing or being removed with no ability to control the timeline. Microsoft maintains the servers and infrastructure for you, but as a result you are not able to install custom code. Some features are not available (some noted above) making SharePoint online awkward for certain workloads.

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