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Migrating SharePoint to the Cloud – Why You Should and How to Do It

by | Aug 11, 2021 | Cloud Services

Many companies might resist moving SharePoint to the cloud for security reasons, and we all know that migrations can also be a costly and time-consuming project, but with a thoughtful plan that considers your overall business goals, your existing infrastructure and content, and your user’s needs, a successful move to the cloud can be done with negligible risk.

Why should you migrate SharePoint to the Cloud?

Simply put, traditional on-prem enterprise content management (ECM) systems, including SharePoint, are not equipped to address the complex information management challenges faced by companies in today’s ever-changing digital world. With your SharePoint data in the cloud, you and your employees can also access your data anytime, anywhere, and with any device.

Plus, you can eliminate the administrative costs of managing and maintaining on-premises SharePoint platforms. No more server farms, data centers, file shares, backups, or downtime you have to fix. As your needs grow, you can add capacity or flexibility to scale.

Need to manage and restructure your content? There are tools for you to do that, too, as well as gaining the ability to monitor and secure your sensitive data along the way.

At the end of the day, in our current distributive work environment, moving to the cloud gives you a distinct advantage: Your information when you need it. Always on. Always accessible. Always secure.

Where to start your migration?

Start with well-devised plan, answering the following questions: Should you move all your data and files to the cloud at once? Or go the hybrid route and migrate incrementally? What needs to stay on-prem for now and why?

What, if anything, stays on premises permanently? Do you have customizations that connect to other on-prem resources?

What is your current architecture? Is it time to adjust that as you migrate? What can you archive? What can you let go of and not migrate but delete (see What stays? What goes? Below)?

Who will use what and how? How will users (internal and external) get to relevant data and files?

Evaluating your organization’s needs will help establish the scope of your migration and ensure a successful transition.

Set a realistic—but not too rigid—timeline.

As part of your plan, you should establish a realistic timeline. Given the chance, all projects, even the most straightforward projects, will eventually push past your due dates, and migrating your SharePoint data to the cloud will be no different. This is a complex job filled with many pitfalls and obstacles. Give yourself a good cushion of time to overcome these inevitabilities. Having said that, you also don’t want to spend years on this migration, so establishing a firm yet flexible schedule that accounts for all your migration activities will help guide your timeline and your employees.

What stays? What goes?

Don’t be afraid to leave behind content that is no longer useful to your business needs. Work with your content managers and business users to identify only the most relevant material. Migrating content that is out-of-date or data that will no longer serve the company is a waste of time and money. Also, there might be a better reason to leave some of your current data on-premises—regional material, for example, or content that you need to rethink or haven’t yet figured out whether it should live in the cloud or stay on-premises.

We are less when we don’t include everyone!

Don’t forget to include employees across the entire organization—Finance, HR, Marketing, and Sales all need to play their part. Your IT department shouldn’t be the only ones tackling this migration. While they might be the ones doing the actual lifting, when it comes to strategic content management and planning, all facets of the business should be involved in this move. Communicate the plan and set expectations with all departments. This migration—and this new platform—is an excellent opportunity for business-wide collaboration and empowerment of all your employees.

But what about security?

Security has been a concern with the cloud since its inception. But feel better knowing this: cloud providers have more resources dedicated to security than your average business. While you are ultimately responsible for protecting your sensitive data, there are comprehensive built-in security capabilities available to address your company’s security concerns. There are also plenty of third-party solutions to help protect your infrastructure. Address your concerns upfront when selecting a provider.

Are there tools? Are there guides?

You can use Microsoft’s SharePoint Migration Tool (SPMT) for migrations ranging from a small set of files to enterprise scale. This tool lets you to move your information to the cloud and take advantage of the latest collaboration, intelligence, and security solutions in Microsoft 365. SPMT supports migration to SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams from: SharePoint Server 2010, 2013, and 2016; SharePoint Foundation 2010 and 2013; as well as network and local file shares.

You can also use third party migration tools such as ShareGate, Metalogix and AvePoint. These products feature many easy-to-use migration tools, management software, and ongoing monitoring and data protection.

And it is also wise to have a guide who has been down this road before. Experience breeds wisdom around the pitfalls inherent with an undertaking of this size, scope, and business impact. Best not go it alone.

At the end of the day?

Preparing a well-devised plan is the key to a successful SharePoint migration. Your data will be secure, and your organization will benefit from the cloud’s potential. Let’s make a plan!