Successful Office 365 migrations from on-premises SharePoint Server deployments start with comprehensive assessments. When enterprises attempt Office 365 migrations without first completing deep assessments of their on-premises SharePoint deployments, the migration projects are often unnecessarily expensive and can fail to fully optimize content and collaborative apps for new Office 365 capabilities, resulting in reduced productivity and an inability to retire legacy SharePoint deployments.
CASAHL’s unique SharePoint assessment service works with multiple versions of SharePoint Server (2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016) as migration sources and provides detailed insights into both content and applications, along with user activity patterns. It also identifies issues requiring remediation and provides detailed data-driven guidance for migration project planners. In addition, the assessment service can be used with Office 365 deployments as sources, making it possible to address tenant-to-tenant Office 365 migration requirements resulting from mergers, acquisitions, and other organizational changes. The assessment service can also be used for continuous assessments of SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, to ensure Office 365 deployments stay optimized over time.
The rest of this post provides an overview of common enterprise SharePoint deployment challenges and explains how CASAHL’s assessment service can streamline even the most complex legacy SharePoint migration projects.
Enterprise SharePoint Deployment Challenges
SharePoint Server has been a leading enterprise content and collaboration platform for more than fifteen years. Many enterprises, consequently, now have on-premises SharePoint deployments that include several versions of SharePoint Server. CASAHL routinely encounters organizations using SharePoint Server 2003, 2007, 2010, and/or 2013, along with the latest 2016 release. The multiple versions of SharePoint Server deployments also typically include business apps that were built using a variety of different tools and techniques over the years as the SharePoint app development models and tools evolved.
The content managed in legacy SharePoint deployments is typically far more unwieldy than simple collections of files managed in well-organized folder hierarchies. SharePoint deployments have often grown without comprehensive content governance policies, for example, resulting in inconsistent approaches to addressing content access control permissions and linking. Incomplete or informal content lifecycle practices are a related problem, leaving many enterprises with vast collections of inactive SharePoint content that create productivity problems (such as not being certain you’re working with the latest version of a document) as well significant business risks when dealing with e-discovery actions.
As a further complication, legacy SharePoint app deployments are often considerably more troublesome than content deployments. In many cases, the SharePoint apps were developed informally and inadequately documented, making it difficult to manage and maintain the apps, let alone migrate them. Most SharePoint customer enterprises have accumulated very large portfolios of legacy SharePoint apps and don’t have a clear understanding of which apps are still being actively used, again creating productivity problems and significant business risks.
These content and app problems create challenges for enterprises seeking to migrate to Office 365, including:
Being forced to continue supporting legacy versions of SharePoint indefinitely. When complex and business-critical apps are deployed on legacy SharePoint Server versions, enterprises often find it difficult to build a business case for replacing the apps. This can result in a need to indefinitely continue operating legacy versions of SharePoint, often without the developer skills required to maintain the related apps.
An inability to modify the legacy SharePoint apps in a timely manner as business practices change, creating operational difficulties and possible competitive disadvantages.
The potential to inadvertently relegate Office 365 to a relatively lightweight role compared to legacy SharePoint, making it easy for end users to misconstrue Office 365’s strategic potential to streamline and advance communication and collaboration. Rather than fully leveraging the powerful new tools and services in Office 365, enterprises burdened with large collections of legacy SharePoint content and apps remain stuck with many of their resources mired in the past, and end users are forced to toggle between legacy and modern SharePoint environments.
In many respects, these challenges are like what enterprises migrating from Lotus Notes/Domino to the Microsoft platform have experienced in the past. While it may seem straightforward to migrate basic resources to the new platform, migration projects often hit a cost and complexity wall when it’s time to focus on migrating more elaborate content and apps. For enterprises with Notes deployments, that has often meant maintaining legacy Notes/Domino deployments indefinitely, after migrating email to Exchange or Exchange Online, with high ongoing Notes/Domino operational, license, and support expenses. Enterprises with complex and expansive legacy SharePoint Server deployments now face similar challenges.
CASAHL’s SharePoint Assessment and Migration Solutions
CASAHL’s Pre-Migration Assessment Service provides a comprehensive and enterprise-scale solution for enterprises seeking to assess their legacy SharePoint deployments as the first step to successfully and cost-effectively migrating on-premises content and app resources to Office 365. The service provides deep insights on deployments based on all widely-deployed versions of SharePoint (SharePoint Server 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016, along with SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business). In contrast to other migration tools that focus on handling relatively superficial content collections, CASAHL’s assessment service delivers comprehensive details on content as well as complexity ratings and modernization guidance for apps.
Enterprises using CASAHL’s assessment service can:
Highlight unused or under-used content and apps, making it possible to reduce the scope and expense of a migration project by flagging unnecessary content for archival or deletion. Reducing the amount of content to be migrated can shrink a migration project by over 60% depending on the scope and complexity of a deployment.
Pinpoint hot spots of highly used content and apps; determining which content is most active is a critical first step toward identifying valuable content that should be given priority during the migration.
Compute the complexity and scale of content and apps to make more accurate estimates about migration cost and duration.
Identify the most active users in each deployment to ensure that these power users are consulted during migration planning. Moving power users and their content first also gives them a chance to adjust to and advocate for the new Office 365 deployment, building adoption momentum for the new system.
Discover migration blockers so users can investigate and resolve remediation tasks before the migration begins. CASAHL’s Rationalization Service uses the results from assessment to provide a collaborative workspace in Office 365 that migration stakeholders can use to jointly address any issues with their resources before they become migration blockers.
Uncover problematic situations such as path length issues, illegal file types, and illegal characters in file and folder names before they cause problems, so that migration can proceed smoothly and with a minimum of unpleasant surprises.
Explore content characteristics such as size, volume, number of documents, and many other attributes to help plan the target environment and make sure the new Office 365 deployment is leveraged effectively. CASAHL’s SharePoint assessment approach is based on more than 70 weighted attributes, all used to determine site complexity and scale. Attributes used in the assessment service include:
Keep new SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business deployments optimized by periodically running assessments to identify and address any potentially problematic content and app issues. Assessment should be regarded as a continuous process, even after migration from legacy SharePoint is completed.
CASAHL’s Pre-Migration Assessment Service also supports many other enterprise legacy systems, including Lotus Notes applications, Google Drive/Sites, Dropbox, Box, file shares, Exchange public folders, Atlassian Confluence (available as an assessment source before the end of 2016), and leading enterprise content management systems. This means enterprises can use CASAHL’s services to assess, modernize, consolidate, and migrate deployments based on multiple source platforms and services rather than requiring multiple migration solutions for different sources.
CASAHL’s uniquely deep and flexible assessment service is the first phase of successful and cost-effective enterprise migration projects. To address the full enterprise migration lifecycle, related CASAHL services include Rationalization, Fixed-Fee Migration, and Application Recomposition. Our next post will explain why Rationalization is mission-critical for large-scale enterprise migration projects.
CASAHL’s services are also complementary with Microsoft’s FastTrack program, extending FastTrack’s services by addressing a wider range of content sources along with collaborative apps and by providing detailed insights into legacy deployments and a project management framework for even the largest enterprise migration projects. CASAHL has partnered with Microsoft on more than 650 enterprise assessment and migration projects.