This is a guest post from Sharegate – a product made with love by Montreal-based software development firm GSOFT, a leader in SharePoint & Office 365 management.
To make your migration to a new SharePoint environment successful, you’ll need to build a solid plan; outlining how the migration will happen, who will manage it and ensure you’ve got everything prepared. But, let’s take one step back: before you even start planning, you first need to understand a few important things that will feed into how you plan the migration.
So, before you start building those Gantt charts or recruiting colleagues to join your project team, read our five points you should know before planning a SharePoint migration. Whether you’re upgrading to SharePoint 2016 on-premises, SharePoint Online, or a hybrid of the two, you should take the following points into account.
Know what’s new in your destination environment
If you’re planning to upgrade, you should do your ‘homework’ to get a feel for the difference between your existing environment and your destination. The good news is that you’re going to get many new features that should really help you as a business:
- Greater maximum file size for uploads
- Larger Site collections
- New and improved UI with the App launcher
- Better search
- Improved mobile experience
- And many more
This is all good news, but it’s also important to be aware that certain features have been abandoned—perhaps most significantly, SharePoint Foundation. These changes will also introduce various new costs, in addition to the price of your new licenses:
- If you’re using SharePoint Online, you will start paying a monthly subscription
- For those remaining on-premises, SharePoint 2016 basically requires you to utilize at least two servers, which may introduce a new cost to companies currently using just one server with an earlier version of SharePoint
- Change management—getting people used to the new environment. The new versions of SharePoint are more user-friendly than older versions, but they can still be confusing to begin with
Know what supported migration possibilities there are
The biggest consideration for migration is to ask which version of SharePoint you’re migrating from:
- Upgrading from SharePoint 2013?
You can perform an in-place upgrade by creating a new SharePoint 2016 Server farm, and then copy all your databases and content to the new farm, but this requires a lot of work and can be made easier with the help of third-party tools or consultants.
- Upgrading from SharePoint 2010 or below?
Your first option here is to build various migration farms in 2013, then hop these on up to SharePoint 2016. But, you’ll likely find it a lot easier to use a migration tool to do this for you, and save the need to complete the intermediate SharePoint 2013 step.
Know how you will design your new architecture
You should be aware that you cannot simply copy your existing source architecture to your new destination, and so you need to understand the features and boundaries of your new environment before moving. The good news is that, SharePoint Online and SharePoint 2016 offer you a lot more space and flexibility than earlier versions, so you won’t be especially constrained.
In SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online, you will now have much less of the architecture flexibility that you could have in earlier versions of SharePoint (which often meant ‘making architecture up as you go along’). But, what you do get is less confusion. Now, you can allocate servers with MinRole, so they will be given specific tasks, such as Search, Front End or Application. This means all your servers have a specific role.
The main thing to think about, therefore, is how you will allocate content, applications and search to different servers, as this may well be a much more structured approach than in your current environment.
Know your content and how it will be migrated
Once you understand these factors, you next need to map out your existing content and decide what will be migrated to the new environment. Now is the opportune moment to archive or permanently delete any content that you no longer need to migrate. This is also the perfect time to take a new look at your existing content. Would it make more sense to combine content from different teams that is currently separated into different farms?
Know how you will build and enforce your governance plan
A SharePoint Governance plan is a set of rules that help to facilitate the use, maintenance and operations of your SharePoint environment. Many companies decide to move to a new SharePoint because their existing one has become too chaotic, yet without a governance plan, you can expect the same chaos to rapidly arise.
Your plan needs to define who is responsible for ensuring the environment remains ‘clean’, that permissions are managed correctly, that content is archived and that people don’t duplicate Sites or add unsafe customizations. It is valuable to bring together a team who will enforce the governance plan and define the rules for how your new SharePoint environment can be used.
And now you can start planning!
Before you even begin planning your migration to SharePoint 2016 or SharePoint Online, you need to begin with an understanding of the limitations and the possibilities of the new environment. Now you’re ready to begin planning your migration!