Home Workforce Productivity Planning for an Upgrade from SharePoint On-premises to the Cloud

Continuing our spotlight series on Office 365 in the Cloud, we’re taking a look at three areas that deserve special consideration when planning your migration to SharePoint Online (SPO), as well as some common challenges associated with a migration to Office 365. As every SharePoint pro knows, each environment presents its own special challenges and hurdles to work through during a migration. At the same time, there are a few areas that should always be considered during the planning phase of a move to SharePoint Online.

Every SharePoint environment has content: some have terabytes worth, while others have just a few GB. Regardless of size, assessing those site collections, subsites, overflowing document libraries, and large lists to determine what is getting dumped (ok, archived!), migrated, and what will require extra attention, is critical to a successful migration.

Gaining a solid understanding of your current state IA and content can be challenging, especially when working with large environments. Using out of the box SharePoint cmdlets (such as the ones detailed in Inventorying SharePoint Using PowerShell from SharePointProMag.com), you can quickly create a content matrix for your SharePoint environment. This will come in handy for mapping source content to target locations in SPO and when planning your migration batches.

Once you have a good understanding of what you’re dealing with, you must make sure it works within the software boundaries and limits of SharePoint Online. Something to keep in mind – although the cloud offers tons of storage at a low cost, you still need to consider backup and recovery SLAs. Microsoft provides out of the box options, such as the Recycle Bin & document versioning in SPO; however third-party tools should be considered for environments requiring enhanced recovery capabilities.

Migrating to SharePoint Online can present additional challenges when dealing with on-premises customizations. Deciding how to handle existing Full-Trust code, Sandboxed Solutions, end-user ‘apps’ and third-party platforms can be overwhelming. Get ahead of the curve by planning for these up front.

For existing Full-Trust or Sandbox solutions, decide whether these should be converted to the SharePoint Add-In Model to become SPO compatible. (That’s right, Microsoft is rebranding the SharePoint App Model as the SharePoint Add-In Model.) For functionality that must remain on-premises, look at deploying a Business Connectivity Services Hybrid Solution or the new Cloud Search Service Application for integrating your on-prem and cloud environments. SharePoint On-premises to the Cloud

In addition to internal customizations developed and managed by the organization, SharePoint Online users will also have access to the public SharePoint Store, which offers a wide variety of third-party and community-sourced add-ins. Prior to your migration, be sure you understand how to monitor and manage these types of add-ins. Many add-ins, such as Nintex Workflow & Forms, are working hard to bring a unified experience for their products across on-premises and cloud environments. Check with the vendor for supported migration paths.

Content and customizations don’t mean a thing unless the end-users are on board and in the loop. As with any migration project, keeping end-users informed throughout the project lifecycle will help to ensure a smooth transition. Ease the challenge by providing information often, and focusing on key areas such as:

  • Changes to the login experience
  • Updates to navigation
  • End-user responsibilities during the move
  • Training options

Microsoft’s Office 365 rapid release cycle will keep your cloud environment updated with the latest features and functionality as soon as they’re available, keeping both administrators and end-users on their toes. If you’d like your environment to be on the cutting edge, sign up for the First Release program to receive updates before they hit the masses.

As we’ve talked about throughout the series, each environment presents its own unique challenges. By keeping your focus on content, customizations, and the end-user, you can ensure that your migration to SharePoint Online is as smooth and seamless as possible.

When it comes to SharePoint Architecture and Administration, Matt is the go-to guy for creating the large enterprise SharePoint farms that power collaboration tools. As Tahoe's team lead at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he supports more than 40,000 users across the country; as a live music fan, he has attended at least that many festivals and concerts. (Not really, but close.)
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