SharePoint Upgrade Strategies

What movie describes your SharePoint upgrade?

Edge of Tomorrow because you keep trying things and failing but each time you get better and finally get there?  

Groundhog Day since the cycle just keeps repeating itself?

12 Angry Men where people argue and tensions get hot because one guy is holding everyone back from finishing it?

The Hunger Games when 12 districts all fight to the death by sending their representatives as tribute?

SharePoint upgrade is difficult and costly. You want to upgrade to the latest and greatest, but many things may be holding you back.

  • Testing all of the customizations and integrations to ensure people won’t loss critical business functionality during or after the upgrade
  • Figuring out which upgrade approach is right for you
  • Third party applications don’t yet support the new version of SharePoint
  • It is a lot of manpower to upgrade the servers and your team is already too busy servicing the existing solution
  • The expense of purchasing new hardware

SharePoint Version Usage

At conferences I have seen the question asked what version of SharePoint are you on? This is not a scientific sample, but the responses usually look like this:

  • Office 365: 15%
  • SharePoint 2013: 15%
  • SharePoint 2010: 50%
  • SharePoint 2007: 20%
  • SharePoint 2003: 1 person who embarrassingly raises their hand
  • Multiple versions of SharePoint: 20%

Upgrading to a new version of SharePoint provide tons of value because at Microsoft we have many engineers building new things for each release. The majority of SharePoint deployments are on a version of SharePoint that is nearly 5 years old now. How old is your cell phone, tablet, or laptop? Probably not 5 years. My cell phone 5 years ago was terrible compared to what I have now. But if upgrade is hard, how do you get the awesome new stuff?


Upgrade Strategies

Here are a few upgrade strategies you can consider so no matter what challenges you are struggling with, you can start getting value from the latest version.

Upgrade to Office 365: The difficulty with upgrade is a key reason why we built Office 365. In Office 365 we do small upgrades all the time so you are always on the latest and greatest. We handle upgrade for you. We have a consistent app model that you and partners can develop against. If you are looking at a major upgrade, take a serious look at moving to Office 365 so your days of upgrade are behind you and you can focus on delivering value, not SharePoint farms.

Move OneDrive for Business (SkyDrive Pro or My Sites) to Office 365: Can’t move it all to Office 365? With OneDrive for Business standalone, you can move just your OneDrive for Business sites (a.k.a. SkyDrive Pro in 2013 and My Sites in 2010) to SharePoint Online. Then your users have the latest features and you can continue managing your customized solutions on premises.

Upgrade all Farms: Go whole hog and upgrade your entire SharePoint deployment. This will be a big undertaking, especially if you have a large SharePoint deployment.

Upgrade Specific Roles: Just upgrade specific roles and solutions. For example your team site deployment may be fairly out of box and easy to upgrade. Also you can first upgrade services farms but not content farms, for example you can have SharePoint 2013 indexing and providing search for SharePoint 2010 farms. You get the new search capabilities with only upgrading a small set of infrastructure. Then you can upgrade other farms over time.

Only Move New Solutions: If all of these options are all too difficult, then keep running your existing farms on the current version and stand up new empty farms with the latest version of SharePoint. As you create new solutions such as a knowledge management portal or image management repository, build it on the new farms and deprecate old solutions when they are no longer needed.

Check out the overview of the upgrade process to SharePoint 2013 to learn more.


Thanks for reading,

Quentin Christensen, Program Manager


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