By Chris Hathaway, Director at Soarsoft Africa
SharePoint 2013 is one of the most anticipated software upgrades of the year, and many IT professionals are looking at implementing the solution for its enhanced features and particularly, its ability to support mobile devices. However, a large number of organisations are still using older versions of SharePoint, which can pose something of a challenge. According to official upgrade documentation, there is no way to upgrade directly from, for example, SharePoint 2007, to SharePoint 2013, short of first upgrading to SharePoint 2010, with all of the expenses and time that comes with this.
Moving to SharePoint 2013 offers organisations access to many new features, and one of the biggest developments is the ability to support mobile devices. In an increasingly mobile world, this is becoming critical to enable knowledge sharing and collaboration across an organisation, including to users on smartphones and tablets. In addition, SharePoint 2013 enables access to new MySites and new Community Sites, which are increasingly important given the rate of content generation and growth. Other features include managed navigation based on metadata, microblogging and activity feeds, e-Discovery integration with Exchange, and SEO-friendly URLs, all of which are highly beneficial for the modern organisation.
However, while many enterprises are highly interested in adopting SharePoint 2013, there is concern and budget constraint around the upgrade path as the versions cannot be ‘leapfrogged’. The upgrade is defined as a complete point-to-point transfer of the SharePoint databases from one version to another, and Microsoft does not support this path from older versions. However this is not the only solution.
While upgrading may not be possible, migrating is. Migration involves copying and moving items from a database, but not moving the database itself. All of the data within a SharePoint database can be read and copied, and then reproduced in a different database on a new SharePoint farm. Using advanced SharePoint migration tools, organisations can move from SharePoint 2007, or even earlier versions, directly to SharePoint 2013, and take advantage of the benefits. Content, site structures and permissions that support the content and workflows that use the content, can all be migrated. New SharePoint templates can also be applied to the structure as part of the migration process. The right product will also ensure that no dependencies or limitations are created related to the SharePoint data in either the old or new database, ensuring full functionality.
A SharePoint migration also allows for items to be moved in a more granular fashion. In other words, it is not necessary for items to be moved to the exact equivalent location in the new SharePoint database and a “Big Bang” approach is avoided. This means that a new structure can be created to more closely match the way users utilise SharePoint and more effectively solve business problems using the tool. It is also possible to keep SharePoint more organised and aligned with business needs, as SharePoint migration tools also include content organisation capabilities. This makes it easier to split or merge sites as and when necessary, inject metadata or to reorganise the structure of a SharePoint farm in line with changing business requirements.
Put simply, a SharePoint migration leaves the database in place, but allows for everything else to be copied and moved. This means that upgrading first to SharePoint 2010 is completely unnecessary for organisations wishing to move from 2007 to 2013. Irrespective of your current version of SharePoint, it is now possible, using advanced SharePoint migration tools, to move to SharePoint 2013 in a single, cost-effective step.