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Migrating To Office 365 And SharePoint Online: What Do You Need To Know?
Apr 9, 2014
If you were to look at what your company is spending on licensing for tools like Microsoft Windows and Office, you would probably find that bundling them into the cloud-based Office 365 package would save your company quite a bit.
But what steps do you need to take in order to prepare to move from SharePoint on-premises to the cloud environment and Office 365? Here are five tips for a smooth migration.
- Make sure you understand what comes with Office 365: This cloud platform includes the familiar Microsoft Office web apps as well as communication tools, such as SharePoint, Lync Online and Exchange Online. For some companies, these tools are the main motivators for moving to Office 365. Exchange Online may offer significant cost savings over hosting Exchange on-premises. You don’t have to support your email infrastructure, and the cloud version provides large amounts of storage for mailboxes.Similarly, getting SharePoint Online through Office 365 is also a good value, because you get Yammer for free. Packaged together, these tools offer tighter integration in the near term, putting social networking and an online collaboration environment at your fingertips.
- Determine which aspects of Office 365 to leverage: Once you realize the range of tools available in Office 365, you need to figure out which pieces are most relevant to your organization’s needs. Some companies are migrating to Office 365 primarily to use SharePoint in the cloud; they’re ignoring or turning off the other functions. Other organizations are interested in Office 365 mainly to gain access to Exchange Online, and are taking a look at SharePoint for the first time. Whatever your reason for migrating to Office 365, you don’t have to try leveraging every single part of the platform. The more you of it you use, however, the more value you’re likely to get out of Office 365.
- Take inventory of your SharePoint environment: Before moving your existing SharePoint content to the cloud, take inventory of how many files and pieces of content exist, and how large your content database is. Also take note of whether you’re running any custom applications, such as a custom master page, custom page layouts or custom content types. Depending on the complexity of the customization you’ve introduced, these aspects may not translate very well into SharePoint 2013.For an effective SharePoint migration to the cloud, your system must be very simple and essentially out-of-the-box. Approach the migration with an eye toward rebuilding your environment rather than trying to recreate it in the cloud. You shouldn’t expect it to look exactly the same, but the functionality is still there, saving you time and money.
- Reevaluate your practices: Moving to Office 365 is a good opportunity to reevaluate some of your information management practices. Think of it as a spring-cleaning opportunity, a chance to get rid of older versions of documents and content that’s over five years old, for example. It’s also a good time to refresh your information architecture for this content. If you have not introduced a tagging strategy, this is an excellent opportunity. Some of the third-party migration tools available apply your metadata strategy to your content as you move it into the cloud. This allows you to start afresh in the cloud with a streamlined information management policy schema, which helps improve search and browsing functionality.
- Invest in migration automation: Even in the best of circumstances, there’s no seamless way to migrate SharePoint on-premises to the cloud. You are able to move your content manually, but an automated migration requires a third-party tool to move your content from on-premises to the cloud. Think of these third-party tools as part of the larger investment that your company is making to move to the cloud.
In the end, a successful migration involves a fair amount of homework. The cloud-based environment probably won’t exactly resemble your existing on-premises tools. By making a thorough inventory of your SharePoint environment and understanding what customizations and variances you already have in place, you’re giving yourself time to address any complications in the cloud migration.
Learn more about moving your organization to the cloud by contacting Portal Solutions.