Would you be able to navigate across the country without a map or satellite-based directions? Since GPS navigation has made its way onto our smartphones—inbuilt by the way of Apple or Google maps—finding out where we are going is as easy as tapping a couple of buttons. But if you blindly attempted a trip from Chicago to New Orleans without looking at a map beforehand, it’s more than likely you’ll run into a few unplanned adventures.
There is a similar sense of caution needed when attempting to migrate to a new SharePoint environment. And a clear plan is the first step.
While SharePoint 2016 offers some fantastic new features and functionality for modern businesses, migration remains a difficult challenge. And while a successful SharePoint migration will offer your company a number of productivity benefits, an unsuccessful migration will leave you stranded in-between platforms with no real means of escape—at least, not with all your content and files intact. That’s not to mention the un-happy users you’ll have on your hands!
So, being well prepared is the name of the game. As such, we’ve put together five questions you should ask before you head to a SharePoint 2016 environment.
1. How Stable Is SharePoint 2016?
SharePoint 2016 is the first version of the platform to take most of its influence from the cloud, rather than from on-premises. The 2016 iteration uses the SharePoint Online source code, which has seen wide-scale success from its users since its release.
And before that? The SharePoint Online source code, in turn, is based on the ever-stable SharePoint 2013 code. SharePoint 2016 is the bridge between the on-premises SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 in the cloud, and this ancestry of source code ensures the platform has a strong foundation.
In terms of hybrid functionality—and how much you want to maintain when migrating—you need to set out a clear plan of action before you begin the migration process.
2. Does SharePoint 2016 Contain Architectural Changes?
The short answer is: yes. There are some architectural changes and enhancements in server topology you need to be aware of, especially if you’re not yet familiar with SharePoint Online.
While these changes offer better resilience, load balancing and performance, deciding on which services to run on which server can not only be intricate but may also require running extra servers—introducing an extra cost factor into the entire scheme.
From a setup standpoint, it’s a tough balancing act between large and small server deployments. While small, single server deployments are easier to accomplish than large multi-server deployments, they may have redundancy and performance problems. The good news is, SharePoint 2016 prides itself on its ease of setup with large, multi-server scenarios.
3. What is the MinRole in SharePoint 2016?
SharePoint Admins will be all too familiar with the chore of streamlining server topologies; deciding which services will run on which server and when. To combat this, Microsoft created stand-alone groupings of services that logically run on a particular server together. These groupings are called MinRoles, and comes as part of SharePoint 2016. There are a few points of interest when it comes to this new feature:
MinRole may require running more servers than you ran in your previous SharePoint environment, for example, and in this case it may be worth considering custom roles. In custom role, you can choose to run a single server setup, but you may sacrifice the optimal MinRole performance in the process.
4. How Can We Apply Patches and Bug Fixes?
For older SharePoint farms, applying monthly patches and bug-fixes means hours of downtime (even though patches have been made smaller in the upcoming version). And like all downtime, this is a serious productivity killer for organizations.
So how does SharePoint 2016 deal with this? Choosing the “MinRole” service architecture requires additional servers, but offers near-zero downtime when applying patches and bug fixes—completely negating the worry of downtime. Plus, because the architectural changes from SharePoint Online are inherited, SharePoint 2016 will run faster and smoother with less risk of downtime. The only downside is the additional cost; make sure you consider this before migrating.
5. What Backup and Restore Strategies Does SharePoint 2016 Offer?
Database sizes for SharePoint 2016 can go well over 200 gigabytes for very large deployments. As has previously been the case, databases of this size can often impact the performance of backup and restore operations.
It’s very important to take the size of your database into account before moving from SharePoint 2013 (or older) to SharePoint 2016. There are no featured backup policies that move old, less frequently used data out of the SharePoint environment while allowing for the searching and accessing of that data from within SharePoint. Make sure you understand these policies, and how they relate to the size of your database, before you migrate.
Take… your… time…!
Migrating to SharePoint 2016 is an appealing prospect, but the process itself can be difficult. Migration requires you to create a new farm before moving content to it, and the benefits of 2016 will often come at the cost of architectural simplicity or smaller total cost of ownership.
For long-term ROI, SharePoint 2016 offers incredible value and potential. The most important part, however, is ensuring your decisions to migrate are not taken lightly.
For more helpful information on SharePoint migration you can read:
- 10 Tips to Get Ahead on Your SharePoint 2016 Migration
- 5 Effective SharePoint Migration Tips
- Video: Migrate to SharePoint and Office 365