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Anticipation in the tech world has helped the biggest consumer brands release new products every year to wild success. In the enterprise, though, businesses are focused more on the functionality and return on investment of software rather than something like a marginally bigger screen or other aesthetic updates. The product release cycle has been a great deal less frequent.
And get ready for it to become a whole lot less frequent! Microsoft’s latest edition of SharePoint—SharePoint Server 2016—may have potentially done away with the whole idea of a product launch altogether, and may be the last version of SharePoint you ever need to invest in. 

So, should you consider migrating to Microsoft’s latest and greatest iteration of the SharePoint platform? (Spoiler alert: the answer is yes!) In today’s post, we’re going to look at why you should consider a move to the cloud, and how you can get there quickly and safely. 

The ‘why’

One of the biggest differences between SharePoint 2016 and previous versions of the platform is this latest version’s integration with Office 365. SharePoint 2016 is designed with the cloud in mind, providing businesses with the all the cloud’s benefits of mobile productivity and anytime, anywhere collaboration This is most apparent with SharePoint hybrid—marrying your on-premises and cloud-based environments and all the content that resides within them.

As with every new version of SharePoint, end-users can expect several improvements to be added to the platform. File size and item indexing maximum limits have been increased, as well as a bigger list threshold. New features like MinRole—which allows SharePoint farm admins to define each server’s role in a farm topology—bring further functionality to the platform. This TechNet article has a complete list of new and improved features in SharePoint 2016.

Aside from upgrading to get more out of the platform, we have to keep in mind that older iterations of SharePoint are gradually being taken out of service, too. SharePoint 2007 is reaching its ‘End of Life’ in October of this year. Organisations still using the platform will lose all external support from Microsoft, making outages or system failures even more dangerous. 

 

From hybrid search to the new Compliance Center, we wrote an in-depth post of the best features available in SharePoint Server 2016 when it was released. Check it out to learn more on the above.

SharePoint 2016 is also the first on-premises SharePoint to receive Feature Packs (the first of which has already been released) akin to the rolling updates that SharePoint Online and other Office 365 apps receive. This ability to get the latest updates as soon as they become available has played a large part in SharePoint Online’s success, and Feature Packs mean on-premises users get a similar level of rapid access to the latest features and updates. The above should serve as an explanation for why SharePoint usage has grown 90% in the past year, with more than 10 million new SharePoint sites created. The next question is: how do you get your business over to SharePoint 2016? 

The ‘how’ - 3 important steps of a SharePoint migration 

1. Plan

While a content migration shouldn’t intimidate you, it should be done with caution. You should begin by asking important questions:

  • How stable is SharePoint 2016? 
  • What are the backup & restore options?
  • Are there any changes to SharePoint architecture?
  • How are software patches and bug fixes applied?

A roadmap can help you address these areas and can act as your means for planning each phase of the migration process. That should include what content you’re going to migrate and the criteria for a successful migration, for example, completion timeframes, branding and what to expect after completion.
 

2. Migrate

This is the actual ‘moving’ part. It’s important to keep in mind that, depending on what your source and destination environments are, the migration process can differ slightly. You have three options: 

  • Manual
    The slowest option, a manual migration involves cutting all your content from the source and pasting it in the destination environment. 
  • Automated/Partially-automated
    Performed through a tool like PowerShell, automated migration replaces the manual aspect with coding and scripting. So, it’s only really an option for the technically savvy. 
  • Third party tools
    This removes both the manual and technical aspect, utilizing third-party migration tools to plan, migrate and manage your content from start to finish. 

Third party tools such as Sharegate can scan your environment to give you a summary of your content, along with potential warnings and errors you may encounter at your destination. This gets you as prepared as possible for the migration itself. 

 

3. Manage

You might think the job is done once you’ve completed your migration, but that’s only half the battle! After completing your migration, it’s important to keep an eye on what’s happening within your environment and make sure users comply with your governance policies, report on the right things and ensure your environment is being used properly. You need to make sure all your users are content in the new environment. Naturally, it will take some time to adjust. To help them do so, ensure they know how they can get back to work as normal, and that they know all the new things they can be doing to get even more from the platform. 

How can ClearPeople help?

Our Consultagents have an extensive history of successful migrations, into both modern on-premises versions of SharePoint and into Office 365, using Powershell, 3rd party tools or even solution-specific custom migrations. We have a migration process refined over many years to ensure that our clients get all the help they need to migrate successfully and ensure user adoption of the upgraded system. If you would like to find out more about how we can assist with your migration please contact us today!

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