Office 365 adoption is increasing daily and many organizations are seriously considering moving their SharePoint on-premises environments to SharePoint Online. Making such a move requires careful consideration and planning. This blog posts seeks to shed light on some things that an organization should look for when considering moving to the cloud.
The first thing to consider is the current version of SharePoint that the organization is using. If using 2007 or 2010, a third party migration tool will be required in order to complete the migration. There are many tools to choose from and this decision should not be made without careful consideration. Beyond just cost, an organization is entrusting their content to the software provider. The most important thing to consider in this decision is the level of support that comes with the software. If a company isn’t able to offer 24/7 support and be prepared to go so far as to provide a software patch, you should seek a solution elsewhere. If the current version is 2013, a tool is still going to be required to move the data up to the cloud, and the same considerations should be taken as far as provider support. Get your arms around your content BEFORE you migrate.
Ask yourselves these questions:
This is also the perfect time to re-organize your content. If there is content you don’t need, trash it. If there are sites that are poorly organized, re-organize them. Just be sure not to do this in a vacuum though - be sure to involve your users early and often. Nothing kills user buy-in like a blanket decision made without the user.
Over the years, many organizations have expanded SharePoint functionality via farm-deployed solutions. While those solutions are often very useful, they are not allowed in SharePoint Online. It is at this point, that an organization should evaluate the need for the solution.
During this evaluation, the following questions should be answered:
- Is this solution mission critical?
- Does “out of the box” SharePoint Online functionality replace the solution?
- Should we take this opportunity to redesign the solution?
- Is it possible to recreate this functionality via the Client Side Object model?
- Can we build an app for that?
- Is there a third party tool that fills this gap?
- Should we consider a hybrid deployment to keep this functionality?
Oftentimes, new functionality will replace the need for the solution or it will be possible to perform the same function via the Client Site Object Model. Third party tools are often another option as well. Each of these options will make the migration run more efficiently and should be strongly considered versus a hybrid deployment. If a hybrid deployment can be avoided then it should. And if it is unavoidable, then it should only be used as a bridge to a more permanent solution.
Many organizations have customized the look and feel of their on-premises SharePoint environment. If the environment from which they are migrating is a version prior to 2013, the current look and feel will most likely not work and will need to be redesigned. However, if the current version is 2010, there is an option to avoid a visual upgrade but a lot of front-end functionality is lost if a visual upgrade is not done. While it is possible to customize your look in SharePoint Online, it has been recommended to avoid it when possible. Microsoft is making updates on a regular basis, but those updates won’t make it to your site if it is using a custom masterpage. Just remember, custom branding in SharePoint Online is possible and is often done, so if customizations are required for your organization, accommodations can be made.