SharePoint to Office 365 Migration – Supported Scenarios

Everyone knows or has heard of Microsoft’s cloud solution, Office 365. It’s a way for businesses to access their Office products or other productivity services directly online, like Exchange, SharePoint, Skype for Business, etc.

The features available in your Office 365 depend on the plan your business is subscribed to. Recently, I wanted to migrate my SharePoint On-Premises environment to Office 365, but couldn't really find any step by step guide to upgrade.

In this article we'll cover:

Planning your Migration from SharePoint to Office 365

I've been searching the Internet to find articles on how to migrate from SharePoint to the cloud and haven’t found much relevant information.

For this reason, I decided to write an article that will focus on the technical aspects of a SharePoint Online migration. However, it's important to note that even if we're moving to Office 365, it technically is still a on-premise SharePoint migration, so everything you've read about them still applies.

What do I mean by that? Well, first of all, you still need to plan and create a roadmap for your SharePoint migration. But also, a Governance Plan and an Information Architecture will ensure the success of your transition.

I strongly recommend you start by reading the above articles if all this is new to you. A lot of people tend to see Governance as some kind of out-of-control monster, but with a little patience and planning, you can keep it simple and have it serve your needs the way you want it to. This will, in turn, help you manage your SharePoint much more efficiently.

Of course, there is a variable you should be taking into consideration: You're moving to the cloud. So if you had SharePoint installed on your servers, upgrading to Office 365 means that you may not have the same features available to you.

Consider Missing Features in SharePoint Online

Even if you're technically migrating from one version of SharePoint to another, they aren’t exactly the same. First, you have to take into consideration that there are different plans you can subscribe to and each with a set of features available.

I strongly recommend you do your research and check to make sure the features you were using are still available in your new Office 365 plan.

Of course, this all depends on the migration strategy you've established. I always begin by inventorying my environments, then employing my “RMR Strategy”, which stands for “Remove, Migrate and Rebuild” and helps me identify what to do with each site I have in my collected inventory.

Microsoft has a very detailed article which shows every single feature in a complete Edition Comparison Chart of SharePoint 2013, both On-Premises, Online and Office 365.

Migrate from SharePoint to Office 365 or SharePoint Online – Supported Scenarios

After planning your migration and evaluating the available subscription plans, you’ve identified the content you want to move to Office 365. But how do you proceed?

Here at Sharegate, we've identified 5 different ways to upgrade to Office 365 or SharePoint Online.

  • Manually copying files
  • Using the Office 365 Migration API
  • Using custom coded solutions or a third party tool
  • Microsoft FastTrack
  • Hybrid

Manually Migrating SharePoint Content

    1. Manually Copying Files to Office 365

      I included this method because I have to, but it's important to note that, in my opinion, it's the least practical way to migrate.

      One way this can be accomplished, is by taking the files using the Explorer View in SharePoint, and moving them manually to the destination. However, by doing it this way, you will lose all metadata as well as the "Created by" and the "Created date". They will be replaced by the person responsible for the copying, at the time he is doing it.

      This isn't recommended, because you don't want all your documents to suddenly be owned by one person and all modified at the same date and time.

Microsoft Migration API

    1. Using the Office 365 Migration API

      The Office 365 Migration API is a newer way to approach a migration that boosts the speed of migration of files by leveraging Azure.

      Essentially, you export your content into a migration package that is sent to Azure Storage. When the timer job runs in Azure, they'll take that package and put the content in your Office 365 environment, based on your package settings. If you're looking for a more in-depth, technical explanation, we've written extensively on the subject before.

      This is a quick solution developed by Microsoft to make your migration easier; however, it’s fairly complicated to set up, and is only for moving content. You’ll need to prepare the entire environment beforehand for it to receive the migration packages.

    2. Using Custom Solutions or Third Party Office 365 & SharePoint Online Migration Tools

      You could develop your own coded solution to move content over to Office 365, but chances are the time, effort and support that will go into that will be huge when compared to what a third party tool like Sharegate can offer.

      It could be worth it to look into a tool that can simplify and accelerate your migration process.

    3. Data Migration with Microsoft FastTrack

      For Office 365 customers with 150 seats or more, Microsoft offers a free data migration service that can also help guide administrators with their move, thanks to tools and other documentation. More information and details on the more technical aspects can be found on Technet and on the FastTrack website.

Hybrid migration scenarios

  1. Hybrid Upgrade to Office 365

    In this scenario, which isn't technically a migration scenario per se, we have both environments running, On-Premises and the cloud. In this Hybrid mode, the environments are linked.

    Basically, instead of moving your older content to the Cloud, the idea is to keep running your On-Premises SharePoint and slowly start using Office 365 by creating new Sites there, instead of in the old SharePoint.

    After this connection has been made, users will be able to navigate seamlessly between the two, not realizing when they are in one or the other.

    This way you can have a more seamless transition as you upgrade or move content to the cloud. Granted it doesn't provide a way to actually move sites from one place to the other, but in some cases you simply do not need to. Remember the RMR Strategy.

Migrate to Office 365 on your Own

Migrating to the cloud is a big endeavor and can bring lots of positive changes to the way an organization collaborates. Choosing the right way to get there is probably the most crucial step, so it's important to do extensive research on which method best suits your needs.

The manual migration scenario simply doesn't work for me, as the integrity of the documents isn’t kept. The migration API is a quick and easy way to move your content from a source to a destination, as is the FastTrack method, if you have the right amount of seats.

The Hybrid scenario is great and I strongly recommend you use it during your transition, however it provides no real solution to move your content over. Your best bet would definitely be to use a custom solution or a third party tool that can get everything done with minimal effort.

Bonus: Download the Ultimate Office 365 Migration Checklist to better execute your move to the Cloud.

This blog is part of a series of 4 articles aiming to help you migrate to Office 365 or SharePoint Online by providing all of the necessary steps and available scenarios.

In the next article of the series I will start by configuring SharePoint on Office 365 to use my Active Directory, to have the same users and password in both.

NEXT ARTICLES IN THE SERIES 2. Configuring SharePoint Online to Use Active Directory Users 3. File Share and SharePoint Migration to SharePoint Online
4. Migrating from SharePoint 2007 to Office 365 with Sharegate

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