Proven practices to consider before migrating to SharePoint 2010

SharePoint 2010 is experiencing strong adoption as companies seek to take advantage of improved functionality and added capabilities for collaboration and content management, including social media features and offline workspaces.

However, moving data to SharePoint 2010 does not come without its challenges. In this article I’d like to share some proven practices that businesses should consider before upgrading or migrating to SharePoint 2010.

First and foremost, in order for organisations to successfully deploy SharePoint 2010, they must be clear on the key business goals for the project. These business goals can greatly affect the requirements for SharePoint 2010’s physical and information architecture.

Understanding which of SharePoint 2010’s enhanced capabilities – such as simplified application development, enterprise content management (ECM) or social interaction features – are the most important to your business will allow IT teams to adjust migration plans accordingly and optimise ROI.

If, for example, updating and refreshing the SharePoint infrastructure is the key goal for migration, tools supporting a granular approach that enables critical data to be migrated to the new SharePoint platform before other non-critical information would be particularly beneficial.

Native SharePoint tool sets cannot support this kind of granular approach, and so third-party lifecycle management providers that can facilitate content migration at the item, subsite, or site level can be very valuable to both business and IT managers.

For example, using a third-party solution can enable IT teams to complete migration processes according to their specific business needs, so the most critical information is available to users quickly with minimal business disruption.

Another important migration consideration, once business objectives are clear, is determining which content needs to be moved to the new platform. Migrating to SharePoint 2010 from SharePoint 2007 is a large job, and can be comparable to moving house. Before the migration, it is imperative to ensure the foundation of the SharePoint platform – its server and operating system – is properly constructed.

For example, SharePoint 2010 will only run on a 64-bit environment at both operating system (Windows Server 2008 is required) and SQL server level. Subsequently, many organisations that may have used legacy platforms or prior SharePoint releases (such as SharePoint 2001, 2003, or 2007) may have been operating in 32-bit environments.

By making this upgrade, businesses can refresh server hardware and benefit from improved functionality and performance when developing SharePoint 2010 server farms.

Once the foundation is in place, it is time to decide which pieces of furniture – content and applications – to move onto SharePoint 2010. This provides the perfect opportunity to discover which content and applications are currently of value, and clear out the clutter like old sites or site collections that haven’t been modified in months or even years.

One easy step that businesses can take is to only migrate the latest five versions of a document, for example, as opposed to all thirty existing versions. This can dramatically improve efficiency, ensuring that only content relevant to business users today is live in the new site, also minimising storage requirements and potentially lowering total cost of ownership.

Before moving any content over to the new SharePoint platform, it is vital to perform a back-up. This would enable businesses to roll back and restore content if any errors arise during the project that would otherwise result in failed migration jobs or data corruption, minimising the threat of business disruption.

It is clear that SharePoint 2010 is primed to revolutionise the way companies work collaboratively, and it’s no surprise that many organisations worldwide are considering making the jump to the new platform.

It is essential, however, that plans are made at the outset for companies to undertake an evaluation of SharePoint 2010 deployment business objectives, focussing in particular on which features and functionality will be most critical to meeting their previously determined needs.

This kind of proactive planning and awareness will help organisations to ensure that they are able to see ROI quickly, benefitting the bottom line while also allowing IT staff and end-users to receive the maximum business benefit the SharePoint platform offers.

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Sarju Raja is VP, EMEA, at AvePoint. With over 10 years of experience in the technology sector, Sarju has extensive knowledge of Microsoft technologies including SharePoint 2010, Office SharePoint Server, SharePoint Portal Server and SQL. Sarju joined AvePoint in 2008 to manage the EMEA Systems Engineer team and assumed leadership of AvePoint’s EMEA headquarters in 2009. Sarju now works to accelerate market delivery of AvePoint’s solutions and promote SharePoint adoption throughout the region.