SharePoint Migration to the Cloud

    Constantly raised questions about migration are a very good measure of interest in the SharePoint platform. In the past, all the changes were upgrades to the new onpremis versions, so the upcoming transition to the clouds will not be as simple as previous updates.

    The severity of the problem for customers with long experience in operating SharePoint depends on the intensity of use, the degree of customization of the platform and commitment to third-party solutions. These factors can slow down or even disrupt migration.

    One of the largest migrations of SharePoint to SharePoint Online was implemented by Microsoft for internal needs, while all plans and solutions were prepared long before the process began. Microsoft IT (MSIT) developed a detailed methodology, defined the content of each farm, groups and individual sites and worked out an understanding of further application. The working group classified, prioritized, and outlined a place for migration for each site, based on data on workload, business result, and architecture complexity.

    The consultant and migration expert Dorinda Reis from the American company Gtconsult notes the presence of several approaches. The “Lift and Shift” technique is an approach when you save the entire SharePoint structure and simply migrate to a new environment, most often Office 365. However, as an option, this technique is also applicable when upgrading from SP2010 to SP2013.

    Much more often, according to the expert, the “Map and Restructure” approach is used. In this case, the structure changes, the content is reorganized and redistributed to more convenient locations. There are cases when the SharePoint environment becomes a file repository where you need to clean everything up and make it applicable to the user. Most migrations require restructuring in connection with the development of the organization and the emergence of new ideas and plans for creating a new environment.
    Why is migration to Office 365 so slow? This problem is the # 1 concern for large organizations. There are many reasons. Microsoft uses many methods to protect users and the integrity of server farms, including load balancing and virus scanning. All of them can affect the speed of the migration process itself.

    In addition, the performance of SharePoint Online is limited not only by the channel width and data transfer rate. The multi-user environment, despite the separability and security of data, has limitations on activities that can affect other customers, whose goal is to maintain the quality of service for all users.
    To help solve this problem, Microsoft has developed a migration API that provides increased throughput between SharePoint Online and Azure. During the announcement on Ignite, the community was presented with manufacturer reviews describing the product. Unfortunately, they did not provide a clear picture of the capabilities and limitations of the new Migration API.
    According to Western experts, the new product really allows you to migrate to Office 365 faster, but it is mainly intended for content. Transferring lists, libraries, and sites requires the manual creation of all items and the creation of migration packages to properly route to their destinations.

    Benjamin Niaulin, an expert on migration and Office 365 MVP, noted that there is nothing nicer than looking at Gigabytes of information migrating to Office 365, after fully setting up and preparing the process. However, it will be a mistake to consider it a simple and easy process, especially if you want to reorganize and restructure SharePoint. According to the expert, the new API is aimed at Microsoft partners who will build migration solutions. It is the partners who will provide the end customers with the necessary granularity and flexibility combined with the high speed required to transfer large amounts of data to Office 365.

    According to Reis, even the use of third-party vendor tools with a new API leaves the need for manual labor to configure the migration process. According to experts, the migration API is better suited for simple data transfer using the Lift and Shift technique. The “Map and Restructure” approach will require the packaging of each data element with the fulfillment of certain requirements, for example, specifying a specific URL or GUID of the exported object, path, disabling data compression.

    Using Azure processes can increase speed, but here you lose control over the basic migration settings. Security, metadata and versioning are limited. When you create packages for each of the portable data blocks, there is a potential risk of losing one of the parts. Therefore, for complex migration with restructuring, when design and configuration are as important as content transfer, traditional approaches, including the development of scripts and specialized packages, remain the preferred options. Using the migration API in these cases can create more problems than benefits. It is to simplify complex migration that third-party solutions are created.

    Can the new API be used without third-party solutions? Of course. However, custom solutions give the user more control and reduce migration risks. In the next article I will try to review and compare such solutions.

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