SharePoint Migration: Points to Consider

By CIOReview | Friday, August 19, 2016

With mobile technology, now a ubiquitous component in doing business, data availability on the go has become quite eminent. In addition, customers expect employees to be contactable at any hour, giving organizations no option but to make any time data availability a reality. Organizations have been considering SharePoint data migration to make this possible. So what are the considerations to carry out SharePoint migration? Let’s discuss!

Methods of Migration

The first issue which comes up in any migration process to a new Microsoft SharePoint platform is the legacy system’s nature. The IT team has to determine before starting the process that whether the installation will take place on a SharePoint or a non-Microsoft CMS platform. It may be best to let a third-party provider handle the nuts and bolts of the migration, if the migration is from a foreign CMS. In this way, the organization can concentrate upon the business- and user-related processes involved. But if the migration and installation is SharePoint to SharePoint, then the next step is to choose a method of migration.

Database attach

The database-attach migration method is simplest method to be used in case of a SharePoint to SharePoint migration. In this method, the SharePoint content database is detached from the legacy SQL Server instance and attached to the SQL Server instance in the new SharePoint farm.

Scripted move

This method is not commonly used due to its complexity. Sites and content across from the old system is transferred to the new ones in this method. Batch jobs are created to carry out the process of migration. Only a few pieces or bits of data are moved at a time.

Hybrid approach

The best method to carry out the migration process is by following a hybrid approach where the best controls of both the database attach and scripted move are considered. In case, the archived data has to be maintained for compliance and active sites, then a hybrid approach towards migration will help the organizations.

Steps in Migration

After a migration method has been chosen, an organization is almost set to move to carry out the migration process. There are essentially 4 steps involved in a SharePoint migration process.

Planning stage

The planning step sets the stage towards a twinge-less SharePoint migration. Existing site owners, high-level stakeholders, a compliance officer, IT and users must be included by the IT team for discussing the planning stage.

The questions that must be asked during this discussion are:

• How content will now be shared?
• How metadata will be used to facilitate enterprise-wide convenience in surfacing content?
• How will be the metrics and measures for tracking the progress of site and content transfer decided?

In most migrations, the importance of this step is neglected and as a result the migration becomes a time-taking process. It's safe to say that more time spent here means less time wasted later.

Site inventory

If the legacy system has been in place for a while, then this step is quite hectic for the business participants. A lot of legwork has to be done by them to make this step going. This is primarily because of the fact that many old sites will be hosted by the legacy SharePoint installation and these will be needed to exist on the new system, but in another form.

The key here is to construct an inventory, and identify and assign site owners. In order to make certain that every site which needs to be migrated is on the list, the IT team must work through that inventory. The responsibility of the site owners must also be decided during this step.


This is a pre-migration step which is to determine the action that needs to be taken for the migrating sites. Depending on the nature of the system, the appropriate step is taken. If the site is not useful anymore, the site is removed but caution has to be exercised in dropping the site or its content as it may be necessary later for compliance purposes.

In case a site needs to accommodate new functionality or its data has to be re-structured in order to place it in the new system, then the site is built again from scratch. This step is also taken when there is a need to deal with flaws in the old site.

After the decision of removing or rebuilding is taken, the sites are migrated to the SharePoint platform.

Test migration

The migration needs to be executed in the user acceptance testing environment in order to ensure its eventual success. The business participants and IT personnel are kept in lock-step in this stage. Many crucial elements are ensured by this step:

• It ensures that migration scripts are doing their job
• The accuracy of term stores is guaranteed
• Consistency of metadata is tested
• The precision of metrics being assessed to measure performance/success of the migration is confirmed

Because of this step’s detail-intensiveness nature, it may be hard to get it right. The step also requires many checks and balances to make sure that all the element’s accuracy and consistency. But it may have the greatest impact on eventual success.

The nature of these steps changes in accordance with the migration method picked up by the IT team. A staggered approach is often best when the CMS to be migrated is large; while a scripted move is a popular method of site collections through user acceptance testing and into production in serial fashion. An organization must make sure that both their old and new platforms are supported as the migration process can be time-taking at times.