Creating a Unified Strategy for Your Cloud Migration
The migration space has become crowded since officially joining the SharePoint community in 2005. When I left Microsoft back in 2009, I interviewed with a handful of SharePoint ISVs and consulting firms, but based on guidance from a couple friends on the SharePoint product team, I ended up joining a small Seattle-based ISV within the migration space. Twelve years later, I find myself working for one of the largest and most-recognized ISVs within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem (AvePoint), home to the fastest growing cloud migration solution, AvePoint Migration Platform (AMP).
But even with a leading SharePoint-to-SharePoint and Cloud-to-SharePoint solution, Office 365 migrations remain a complex migration activity due to its many configuration options and components. Migrations are never as quick and simple as you hope them to be, but having the enterprise-scale tools in place to assess your migration, do the heavy lifting, and then organize and automate management and governance once you’ve moved, can greatly reduce the risks inherent within migration activities.
Using AMP, you can assess your current environment, and find and fix problems before you migrate. With AMP, you can organize and migrate your sites and content, and move from legacy environments (SharePoint, Google, Box, Slack, file shares, and more) to the cloud.
Of course, having the tools is just part of the solution — you still need to do some planning. When I joined Microsoft in 2006, some of my initial projects involved internal migrations, helping various Microsoft organizations move from their old SharePoint 2003 environments to the 2007 version. My advice to my customers while at Microsoft has not changed much:
- Identify and prioritize the workloads to be moved. Clarify the business benefits of each workload, and employ a phased approach. Recognize that there may also be some workloads that should remain (at least for the near future) within your current environment, such as a highly customized product development team site. Be aware of the customizations within these workloads — understand which use cases can be supported today, and move remaining workloads across as your cloud platform matures.
- Clarify the relationship of data and content between platforms. If you are planning to maintain a hybrid platform, think about the need for data or content to be correlated (synchronized) between environments, and how each will be managed. Have a clear understanding of how data, roles, and permissions are shared between on prem and cloud, and between cloud environments — throughout the transition if temporary (phased migration) or ongoing if planning to maintain a hybrid environment.
- Identify the governance, compliance, reporting constraints. An underlying problem with SharePoint deployments, in general, is that organizations do not make a sufficient effort in defining success metrics, and methods for monitoring activity against those metrics, up front. It is important that you develop a governance strategy for both the old and new platforms, understanding (and documenting) how they will be managed individually, as well as together as a single platform. For many organization, one of the primary constraints of moving to a new platform is not necessarily the technologies (although there are some limitations, for sure) but in not understanding the differences in how different platforms are managed — and not making adjustments to your metrics, reporting, and expectations in how things are managed before you make the move.
- Define how end users will be transitioned. At the end of the day, no migration will be successful if your end users do not adopt the new platform. When your use cases have been defined, your data and content requirements are being met, and your governance strategy is in place, you also need to consider the end user experience. What is your plan for transitioning users to your new system? Prioritize your use cases, and work with your end users to transition to the new model — providing training and feedback loops, so that you can learn from the process and improve the model for future workloads.
The main message here is that moving to the cloud is never as simple as pulling out a credit card, signing up for an online service, and adding people’s emails. It requires thoughtful planning — and a lot of heavy lifting. Thankfully, there are now tools to help you along every step of the way. For more details on how to move to the cloud now, be sure to check out the AvePoint Migration Platform.