INSIGHT: How to successfully migrate to SharePoint 2013

"Successful migrations - either on-premises or SharePoint Online - require an in-depth study of the current environment to identify critical points."

Migrating to Microsoft SharePoint 2013 introduces a number of capabilities which could provide a new perspective on you current Intranet as well as the integration of social and collaborative functionality.

New features provide organisations with enhanced collaboration management, native integration of enterprise social networks, and a significant improvement of search-related functions.

However, successful migrations - either on-premises or SharePoint Online - require an in-depth study of the current environment to identify critical points.

Exclusively for Computerworld New Zealand, Fabrice Di Giulio, Technical Solutions Professional, AvePoint presents the most important questions for pre-migration and solutions to these issues.

What is the state of your current collaboration platform deployment?

It is necessary to have a good overview of documents, taking into account network and hardware infrastructure, user mapping, security directory and implementation, and interactions with other systems.

Uniting IT roles can also provide a complete overview and help identify the individuals involved at different migration project stages.

How much content needs to be migrated?

Take into account existing content residing in your current environment, including documents, images, pages, the number of versions for each object, and content hosted on external file shares.

Clearly understanding the totality of content will help you size up your destination environment and define an appropriate migration strategy.

What is the level of customisation in your current environment?

This question is most applicable for migrations from previous SharePoint versions to SharePoint 2013 or SharePoint Online. Aside from this, it becomes more complex to consider a customised migration.

You must distinguish multiple types of customisation, including graphic customisations and those related to a third-party tool, such as workflow software. If it’s possible to support SharePoint 2013, consider a migration tool or technical support.

What level of technical requirements are necessary for migration?

Technical requirements are not an issue once the auditing of the current environment has been carried out. However, the level of functional requirements will often impact the duration of the pre-migration phase.

A common business requirement is the structuring of data and can become difficult to reach a consensus. Some environments will need to be organised by site collections, while others will require organisation based on sites.

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However, just moving files or folder across different document libraries is impossible natively. Third-party tools, however, can carry out restructuring jobs after the migration with ease.

What is the expected type of migration?

There are several ways to carry out a migration:

• Full migration from an old system to a new system: In this scenario, the old system will be shut down once the new one is online. This implies that sufficient tests have been completed to validate the project before the full changeover is performed.

• Successive migration based on user groups: With this method, a full migration is applied to different sections of the source environment. Site collections, sites, or libraries that are being migrated successively can minimize the migration time by isolating scopes.

• Incremental migration: Here, the first full migration is carried out for resetting and validating the target environment. Meanwhile, the users continue to work on the existing environment.

An incremental migration then takes place to synchronise content between the two environments. Once the migration is validated and users are trained, a final incremental migration enables permanent changeover.

How should I migrate?

There are many ways to carry out a SharePoint migration, so keep in mind that there is no single blueprint - every project depends upon size and scope of the migration:

• Manual migration: In this kind of migration, the target environment is configured manually and then the content is migrated via native SharePoint features.

This migration method only takes care of the movable content (e.g. documents) – excluding all customisations.

• Scripted migration: This permits you to use resource or configuration files to carry out batch import, initialise metadata, and run SharePoint configuration operations.

There is an immense skill level required to develop scripts and it can also be quite time consuming.

• Third-party migration: Developing a migration solution is the equivalent of creating a solution that can only be used once

A third-party solution is more user-friendly and provide an efficient, cost-effective solution for migrating business-critical content from various electronic repositories into the latest release of SharePoint.

In order to successfully complete a migration project, consider all potential issues outlined above before beginning your project to ensure success.

And remember that not every migration is the same - even if a past project was simple, a migration from a different source can be vastly more complex. Third-party tools will prove invaluable in allowing you to automate all or part of the migration.

By Fabrice Di Giulio - Technical Solutions Professional, AvePoint and Microsoft MVP