With the increased adoption of cloud technologies, a lot of firms are looking to move their data from previous on-premises versions of SharePoint to SharePoint Online. We will detail ways to manage your SharePoint migration to Office 365, as well as what to plan beforehand.
Planning SharePoint migration to Office 365
To make the migration process as seamless as possible, it is advisable to create a migration roadmap, a governance plan and an information architecture. These will help transfer the right data to the right place. Besides making the above plans, it is also important to consider what features you might be losing from your current version of SharePoint or gaining with SharePoint Online.
A migration plan
It is a good idea to map out the migration process and start by building a migration roadmap. This helps with getting an overview of the project, determining what goals have to be achieved and what the destination is. As with all journeys, you should know where you will end up, even at the start. Establish what the criteria for what counts as a successful migration project should be. Such criteria could be: the project completion date, the budget and what content must stay or go.
In particular, select in advance what data should be migrated, removed or rebuilt. In terms of migration, choose what type of migration style suits your enterprise best. Regarding removal, decide what data you do not want to transfer to SharePoint Online. In addition, decide if they should be preserved in the old version or simply deleted. Rebuilding some sites might be necessary too, especially in the case of heavily customized sites in SharePoint 2007 and 2010. However, even though there are many part web parts and apps available in SharePoint 2013, some sites might still need to be rebuilt for SharePoint Online.
There are many elegant third party solutions to create a roadmap with, such as XMind or Visio. Or you can even create it with SharePoint. The aim is simply to list all affected sites and choose if they will be migrated or removed / rebuilt. If you do not have a site inventory readily available, you can export it using PowerShell.
A SharePoint Governance plan
A governance plan sets out the rules that aid the use, maintenance and operation of the application. Using the Enterprise Wiki in SharePoint, you can link pages and tag each page with a Wiki that identifies “topic pages”. An added benefit of choosing Wiki for your governance plan is that it is easily accessible from Team sites. The governance plan should state what SharePoint environments you will be using, with a short description of what they should contain. When designing the support model of your firm, keep it simple. Even a diagram can suffice, the point is just to be able to decide what level of support (e.g.: site level, first level) to ask for with what request.
The information architecture helps you identify what can be grouped together, and how it will need to exist in SharePoint. Migration is a good time to reconstruct or consolidate your information architecture. Otherwise you are just moving your existing problems into a new framework. Make sure you cover all content types, site columns, sites, document libraries etc. The correct metadata can be found by looking for the data you would archive it with. Tools like XMind or Mind Manager can organize your structure quickly, as documents with similar properties or metadata are easily noticeable. Once you form “content types”, you are ready to create the information architecture.
SharePoint feature assessment
Even though you are migrating from one version of SharePoint to another, they are not the same. Moreover you can subscribe to multiple Office 365 plans, each carrying a different set of features for SharePoint Online. Therefore, it is important to check if the features you are using are available in your Office 365 plan.
Microsoft has very detailed comparison charts of SharePoint feature availability across:
Many third-party migration tools offer diagnostic tools aimed at informing the transition process. Some of the most used check tools within the most popular migration software are: Sharegate Pre-Migration Check, Metalogix Migration Expert, AvePoint SharePoint Discovery Tool, Dell Migration Suite for SharePoint, and MetaVis.
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Migrate from SharePoint to Office 365 or SharePoint Online
Having prepared your migration and evaluating which subscription plan you should choose, the 5 most common ways to migrate are:
- Manually Copying Files to Office 365
- Using the Office 365 Migration API
- Using Custom Solutions or Third Party Office 365 & SharePoint Online Migration Tools
- Data Migration with Microsoft FastTrack
- Hybrid Upgrade to Office 365
Just to include it for the sake of completeness, it is naturally possible to just copy files over. This is done by taking files using the Explorer View in SharePoint, and moving them manually to the destination. It is important to note though, that doing this will cause you to lose all metadata as well as the “created by” and the “created date”. They will be replaced by the person responsible for the copying, at the time he is doing it. Therefore, this is obviously, the least recommended form of migration.
Office 365 Migration API
This new method utilizes Microsoft Azure and is therefore much faster. It involves exporting your data into a migration package that is sent to Azure Storage. When the timer runs in Azure, the content is put in your Office 365 environment, based on your package settings. The disadvantage of this form of migration is that the receiving environment already needs to be set up, as it is solely capable of moving the data.
Custom Solutions or Third Party Office 365 & SharePoint Online Migration Tools
On the one hand, it is possible to employ SharePoint consultants to carry out your migration for you. Alternatively, you can use a number of migration tools available for SharePoint migration to Office 365. Read our post on the best Office 365 migration tools for more.
For Office 365 customers with 150 seats or more, Microsoft offers FastTrack, a free data migration service that can help guide administrators with the migration process.
In this case, you have both the on-premises and the cloud environment running. In this Hybrid mode, the environments are linked. Thus, you only start to use Office 365 by creating new Sites there, instead of your old SharePoint version. After the connection has been set up, users can navigate seamlessly between the two, not realizing when they are in one or the other. This however, is not a migration strategy per se, as it does not involve data movement. Thus, this is a suitable alternative only if you not need to transfer data or have them removed.