SBS 2003 Companyweb migration – Part 1

Series Posts:

Introduction – Overview
Part 1 – Caveats and Considerations
Part 2 – Preparation steps on v2
Part 3 – Upgrading v2 database to WSS v3
Part 4 – Attaching upgraded database to WSS v3
Part 5 – Check WSSv3 for migration to Foundation 2010
Part 6 – Move database to SBS 2011
Part 7 – Post migration steps and considerations

If you are planning to migrate your Companyweb information from SBS 2003 you are going to be taking the long road I’ll tell you now. As I mentioned in a previous post there is not a simple way to move from Companyweb on SBS 2003 (SharePoint v2) to Companyweb on SBS 2011 (SharePoint Foundation 2010). The path you’ll need to follow is firstly a migration to Windows SharePoint V3 and then to SharePoint Foundation 2010.

So, before you even commence this process you should ask yourself whether all the migration effort is really worth it? In many ways simply copying over the data and starting a fresh maybe the most effective solution. You may lose some meta data but there are so many points along the migration path that can cause pain I would really recommend that you honestly ask yourself the question as to whether a migration is really going to worth the trouble? Start by asking yourself exactly what Companyweb on SBS 2003 is being used for.

When you are considering whether a migration is worthwhile you need to consider a few things:

1. If SharePoint is just being used a file storage location, then simply copying those files via Windows Explorer to SharePoint Foundation 2010 is probably a better bet since it effectively avoids the two step migration process.

2. If you have lots of lists and information other than files in your existing SharePoint then the most effective method to shift these is via migration. It is certainly possible to export and import lists to spreadsheets and then back into a newer version of SharePoint but if you have lots of lists then it is probably going to take too long to work through all the items. Conversely, if your site is only relatively small then exporting and importing maybe much easier.

3. If you lots of customizations to your existing SharePoint, by this I mean those done with a HTML editor like FrontPage, then I’d caution that migration will most likely be problematic. Likewise, if you added custom template and web parts then many of these will not survive the migration process and will most likely need to be removed/uninstalled prior to migration. That will al take time and generally break things.

4. If your SharePoint site is large (say >1GB) or is overly complex in its structure (i.e. lots of subsites) then migration is probably going to be more effective. The migration method basically involves detaching, copying and reattaching databases between SharePoint versions. If you have a lot of data then it is probably going to be much easier to do all this via a single file rather than trying to export and copy the data individually. However, beware of the default database limitations of Companyweb on SBS 2011 (10GB) because if your existing SharePoint data is already larger than this you are going to have to take appropriate steps on the destination SBS 2011 server to accommodate your data before you commence any migration process.

5. The migration process from SBS 2003 Companyweb is going to require the installation of a Windows SharePoint Services v3 (WSS v3) server. Where are you going to install this? On the SBS 2003 server? On a stand alone members server? On a virtual PC? To my way of thinking it really doesn’t make much sense to install WSS v3 on the existing SBS 2003 server simply because doing that isn’t straight forward. Do it wrong and you’ll screw up all your existing SBS 2003 wizards. For me the best bet is to use Virtual PC as a staging server to move the content to WSS v3. This provides greater flexibility (roll backs, snap shots, etc) as well as effectively costing nothing (Virtual PC is free to download, you can use a trail license of Windows Server will migrating, etc). It will also leave your source SBS 2003 server more or less untouched providing roll back if required. Whatever you decide you are going to need to install WSS v3 somewhere!

6. Are your backups working? If you plan to migrate part of pre-scanning process will make slight changes to the existing SBS 2003 Companyweb databases. I am yet to see a situation where this caused an issue BUT that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. Anytime you plan to make changes to the source during a migration you need to ensure that you can return it to exactly the way it was before you made changes. I’d always recommend you do a stsadm –o backup on your existing Companyweb site on top of whatever else you are doing to backup the database. An stsadm –o backup command gives you a single data file that can easily be restore to a blank SharePoint site which in my experiences provides a huge amount of flexibility.

With all this mind I’ll cover the migration process from SBS 2003 to a temporary WSS v3 server in an upcoming post.

Image: jacqueline-w

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