Migration from SharePoint on-premises to SharePoint Online is typically conducted using a migration tool. This is because Office 365 (O365) SharePoint Online does not support the “Database Attach” approach used in on-premises upgrades or migrations.
There are a number of 3rd-party migration tools available. Popular ones include:
Metalogix Essentials for O365 (https://www.metalogix.com/product/essentials-office-365), which provides a wide range of options for migrating content from both SharePoint and file shares.
ShareGate – https://en.share-gate.com/
Microsoft also offers a migration tool, although the migration features are limited.
Microsoft SharePoint Migration Tool – http://spmtreleasescus.blob.core.windows.net/install/default.htm
Because the transfer of information from the local SharePoint instance to O365 SharePoint Online is relatively slow, organizations need to evaluate their existing environment and determine a migration approach that minimizes migration risk and impact to end-users.
Deciding which migration approach works best for your scenario is based on the following considerations:
- Size of total data to be migrated – Large amounts of data increase the time needed to copy sites and content into O365.
- Data Transfer Rate – Slower data transfer rate increases the time needed to copy sites and content. Data transfer is impacted by available bandwidth to the Internet and overall traffic to the Microsoft O365 domain. Data transfer rate may vary significantly during the migration process.
- Number of sites and items – High numbers of individual sites and large numbers of items and item versions increase the time to migrate to O365.
- Degree of redesign in the O365 sites/lists – Migrating content to a destination site with different lists and configuration than the source site increases the time to migrate to O365.
- Acceptable time sites and content are unavailable to end users – This is the amount of time a site and/or content is not accessible or accessible on a limited basis before the availability impacts normal business processes. Smaller unavailable time limits impact the approach to the migration.
- Degree of customization – Deployments with lots of customizations that are not supported on SharePoint Online may require content modifications and specific migration processes, increasing the time for migration.
Migration Approach Options
Site migration can be organized using the following approaches:
1. Manual – In this approach, sites, lists and libraries are created manually in O365, then list and library content is uploaded to the destination using the provided interfaces.
- No licensing costs.
- Can work when the amount of content is small and loss of existing metadata is not important.
- Existing metadata (created, created by, custom columns, etc.) is lost.
- Labor intensive – Requires resources to set up the destination sites, lists and libraries, then upload the content.
2. Big Bang – In this approach, site and content migration is started and continues until all sites and content are migrated to O365. All users are provided access to the new sites simultaneously.
- Less complexity in the migration process.
- Easier training – Everyone gets trained in the same timeframe.
- Minimal Transition – One day everyone is on the old system and the next day on the new.
- Only works in scenarios where the amount of content/number of sites can be moved off-hours or in a time frame acceptable to end-users.
- Higher risk – Everything is moved, if there was an issue in the migration, then we have to fix it in production.
- Availability during migration – Users typically have limited to no access to the system during migration.
3. Sequential – In this approach, sites and content are migrated according to a schedule. Users work in both the source and destination instances as individual sites are migrated.
- Less risk – Have an opportunity to find issues in the migration of the initial sites and resolve these before migrating more sites.
- May be the only approach if the environment has a large number of sites and content.
- More complex migration process – Means more coordination and communication as sites are migrated, tested and made live.
- Harder Change Management process – Users will need help to effectively work in two changing environments during the transition.
4. “Go Forward” – In this approach, only sites and content associated with current work processes are migrated. Example: Only active customer account content is migrated to new customer sites. A process is put in place to migrate “non-active” customer content if a new project or agreement is executed.
- Reduces amount of content for migration.
- Creates an “auto-purge” effect for unused content.
- More complex migration process.
- Potentially requires maintaining existing systems or creation of an archive.
5. Incremental – This approach migrates all sites and content to O365, then utilizing a feature in the migration tool to detect changes, update content created or changes since the initial migration date.
- Less disruption for end-users – easier change management.
- Reduces the complexity of the migration process.
- Your migration tool must have this feature.
- Depending on the degree of content and site updates in your organization, the go-live process may take considerable time.
- Everything is moved, so more risk that there were undiscovered issues in the migration.
Need help to evaluate and design your migration approach? Peters & Associates has migrated dozens of clients, big and small to SharePoint Online. Leverage our experience to make your migration successful! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we are happy to help!