Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Migrating from Companyweb to Office 365 SharePoint

Companyweb is a SharePoint site that comes with all versions of Small Business Server. Thus, it is available in versions, 2003, 2008 and 2010. It basically uses the free version of SharePoint (now known as Foundation) as opposed to the commercial version of SharePoint generally referred to as SharePoint Server.

Office 365 on the other hand is a hosted version of SharePoint Server Enterprise. It is still available for older tenants that are yet to be upgraded as SharePoint Server 2010 whereas all new tenants since February 2013 and those that have already been migrated, it will be SharePoint Server 2013. After November 2013 all Office 365 tenants should be upgraded to 2013 versions of software, including SharePoint. Therefore this article will make the assumption that the migration is to the latest version being SharePoint Server 2013.

There is currently no free migration wizard to move Companyweb to Office 365. The general guidance from Microsoft when it comes to migrating SharePoint is that you need to consider it like moving house. This means that during such a process you generally, throw some stuff away, add some new stuff and relocate other stuff. In short it is generally not a 1:1 transition. You basically take the opportunity to re-engineer and add more value.

This translates into the fact the any migration of SharePoint is a very manual process and there are a lot of things you need to look out for. However, in broad strokes, here are the major 3 approaches to my mind:

1. Exporting

2. Templating

3. Third Party tools

 

1. Exporting

Most of data within SharePoint can be accessed by desktop applications. For files, you can simply map Windows Explorer (i.e. file manager) to Companyweb document libraries, then map another Windows Explorer to Office 365 SharePoint document libraries and drag and drop the files between locations. To configure drive mapping take a look at this article:

How to configure and to troubleshoot mapped network drives that connect to SharePoint Online sites in Office 365 for enterprises

To migrate other items such as calendar, contacts and lists you have a number of options:

a. You can connect up many SharePoint items via Outlook and again drag and drop between SharePoint sites within Outlook. For information about doing that see:

Connecting a SharePoint Calendar in Outlook

Remember that Outlook can generally be connected to SharePoint calendars, contacts and document libraries.

b. You can export items to applications like Excel and Access. This is a one way process from which you need to import these items back into the new SharePoint. For information about doing that see:

Exporting a SharePoint list to Excel

Create a list based on a spreadsheet

c. More ‘fiddly’ option could include using SharePoint Workspace 2010 and even Sky Drive Pro client app.

Summary – Exporting

Using export techniques generally allows you to move directly from any source SharePoint version to any destination version of SharePoint. Downsides include:

- Very manual process, especially for large sites.

- Bandwidth considerations when dragging and dropping files between sites.

- Security will need to be regenerated on new SharePoint site.

- Loss of meta data i.e. additional information about items in SharePoint i.e. custom columns added to item.

- Loss of version history and previous versions

- Loss of customizations created via custom editors like Frontpage.

- Web parts not migrated.

- Loss of workflows.

2. Templating

The idea with templating is that SharePoint allows you to create a template of the either the structure of a site or an item (i.e. a list) or a template of the structure including the data. The down side is that you can only apply templates to the same version of SharePoint. Thus, you can’t template a site in Companyweb 2003 and import it into SharePoint 2013. The source and destination template need to come from the same version of SharePoint.

Here is some information on creating templates:

Site Templates

Copy or move a library using a library template

If you really want to use the template method you are going to have to upgrade your version of Companyweb to be at least SharePoint 2013. This would mean creating a virtual machine for each version of SharePoint and doing a database migration to each version.

Thus, if you are coming from Companyweb 2003 you are going to have to do a database migration to Windows SharePoint Services 2007, then another database migration to SharePoint Foundation 2010, finally another database migration to SharePoint Foundation 2013. Only then could you consider templating and importing to SharePoint Online.

As you can appreciate this is a very involved process and requires 3 independent SharePoint machines, 3 database migrations at least. If you want to go down this path have a look at the previous series of posts I did on migrating on premise Companyweb.

SBS Companyweb migration

You will of course have to one more after what I wrote about in these posts (Foundation 2010 to Foundation 2013) but the database migration process is identical.

Summary – Templating

Templating allows you to migrate more complete blocks of information that simply exporting. You can also generally maintain history and metadata. At worst it allows to keep the SharePoint site structure but the overheads are steep, because the downsides include:

- Significant requirement in hardware to run up swing migration servers.

- Limits on how large templates can be.

- Large sites take time to copy, attach and upgrade.

- Security will need to be regenerated on new SharePoint site.

- More chance of issues developing while migrating. For example, if there are incompatibilities or database corruptions this process can become complex.

3. Third Party tools

There are not many third party tools available that offer a fully automated process of migrating SharePoint. Some of these almost have minimum SharePoint version requirements, so check before shelling out money. The main downside of these tools are that they are expensive. They are aimed at Enterprises rather than small businesses.

Once such tool is ShareGate but as you can see it is not particularly cheap for a one off migration:

image

 Also be aware that those prices are annual prices. So to do a full site migration you are currently looking at $2,000. That is roughly about 20 hours of time if you want a comparison (and that doesn’t include the time spent to work out how ShareGate functions).

I have used ShareGate and have had conversations with them about their pricing, especially for SMB, but alas it appears like most third party tools with SharePoint Enterprises are the focus.

Another option is Metavistech at:

http://www.metavistech.com/category/tools-office-365

No pricing on their site but expect to pay at least ShareGate money. This tool appears to be more encompassing than ShareGate but I have not any experience with the product.

Another option is Quest Migration Suite for SharePoint at:

http://www.quest.com/migration-suite-for-sharepoint/

Another option is AvePoint:

http://www.avepoint.com/sharepoint-products/

Office 365 MVP Benoit Hamet did a series of posts on migration to SharePoint Online 2010 using AvePoint for migration which you can find here:

Office 365 / SharePoint – Migrate your On Premises SharePoint content to SharePoint 2010 Online – Part 1 – Migration tool installation

Office 365 / SharePoint – Migrate your On Premises SharePoint content to SharePoint 2010 Online – Part 2 – Connection to Office 365

Summary - Third Party tools

These tools are going to make migration much easier. They are going to take just about all of the content and potential even handle securities. However, the down side is cost. None of these plans are cheap, they are thousands of dollars because they are enterprise focused. Downsides are:

- Expensive.

- Need to spend time understanding how tools operate.

- May still need to re-generate securities on new site.

Appendix – Third Party tools

In the mix of third party tools I will throw in Skykick. This a service that will migrate all your on-premise information (mail, data, etc) directly to Office 365. Again, I have no experience with this company and I have received no replies to email conversations I attempted.

They would seem to be a good option provided you simply want the information across into Office 365 as is. I have no idea about how it would appear in SharePoint, how securities would be managed and what happens if there were items that could not be migrated.

It is certainly an option worth considering if you are planning on moving all the data in one hit and just want SharePoint to ‘work’ in Office 365. Personally, I have my doubts until I have actually seen the process operate, in that case I leave it up to other to leave a comment on this post or contact me directly (director@ciaops.com) with their experiences.

Summary

That in broad strokes is what I see as you options. All require work, some require more time, some require more money but all need a fair amount of planning and understanding of the migration process.

The best option for people unfamiliar with SharePoint is probably simply to export the data, however be aware of the limitations that brings.

If you have any questions or need assistance with SharePoint migrations to Office 365 I suggest you contact me directly (director@ciaops.com) and I’ll do what I can to assist. Hopefully, I can build this post out into more information tools and procedures to smooth the way for people. Of course, everything about Companyweb to Office 365 migrations I learn goes into my Guide (www.wssops.com) which I think is pretty good value for everything it contains, especially for SMB.