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Predicting post-SharePoint 2013 migration issues

Migrating to a new version of SharePoint isn’t always an easy task.

Some of the things you worked hard to create in previous versions might not behave properly once you’ve made the switch to SharePoint 2013.

That’s why I’ve made it my mission to see what may break during your SharePoint migration, so you don’t have to go through that hardship alone.

Articles in this Series 1. SharePoint 2013 New Features: Should You Move?
2. Migrate to SharePoint 2013 – Supported Upgrade Paths
3. Designing a SharePoint 2013 Architecture
4. How to Build a SharePoint Migration Plan
5. Building a SharePoint Governance Plan Before Migrating
6. Predicting Post-SharePoint 2013 Migration Issues

What are the New Features in SharePoint 2013

To find out what could cause potential issues during your SharePoint migration to 2013, we first must understand what has changed in comparison to the previous versions.

I already covered this in “SharePoint 2013 New Features: Should You Move?”. But, just in case, here is a less detailed list of some of the updates worth noting:

  • Branding using the Design Manager
  • No more XSLT, we now use Display Templates
  • SkyDrive Pro instead of My Sites
  • Search, Continuous Crawl and the new Web Parts
  • Apps and the App Store
  • Community Site
  • Microblogging and Activity Feeds
  • Run Site Collections in “2010 Experience”
  • Claims authentication default

Of course, a lot more has changed that isn’t mentioned above. Our job for the following article is to identify which of these may cause migration issues.

Using 2010 Mode in SharePoint 2013

“Migration issues? Why should I have to worry about that with 2010 mode?” That’s a very good question!

We mentioned in our Migrate to SharePoint 2013 – Supported Upgrade Paths article, that there is a new way to perform your migration with SharePoint 2013. You can now attach your previous databases to SharePoint 2013 and they will run in a SharePoint 2010 experience.

SharePoint 2013 installs some of the files belonging to 2010, which means that most of your customizations will still work. But this will not always be true.

We received reports of Workflows no longer working on Office 365, because Microsoft upgraded their platform to SharePoint 2013, and left the existing tenants in 2010 mode.

It worked for most, but some reported lost functionalities. And this is Office 365 – meaning there are only very limited customizations. It will be a different story for those On-Premises.

So, should you worry about it? Yes, you should consider the fact that you have the compatibility mode now, but you should know that it will not solve all your problems.

What No Longer Worked After My SharePoint2013 Migration

  1. Branding

    We might as well start with the biggest one. Just like in every upgrade with SharePoint, you will lose all customized branding.

    The change from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 is even more radical then it was from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010.

    This time, we’re switching to HTML5 – which was built to work easily on all browsers and even other devices. In today’s world, it was inevitable, but it makes for a difficult migration.

    There is also a big change in the way SharePoint shows us its content; Web Parts no longer use tables, for the most part, and the use of XSLT has been replaced by Display Templates.

    This means almost all your branded Web Parts and Content Query styles will no longer work.

    Summary: Plan to rebuild everything from scratch. Then again, with the increase in popularity on UX/UI, mobile browsing, etc. it might not be such a bad idea.

    SharePoint 2013 Branding

  2. Search

    Too much has changed in Search to ignore it. In fact, it’s probably the biggest topic of 2013. I foresee some very cool use of the Search feature in companies using SharePoint to drive the right content to their target audience.

    What might not work so well with Search after you’ve migrated to SharePoint 2013? Well, Scopes are deprecated.

    What does that mean? All the Search Scopes you have created will be brought over to ensure a successful migration, but you can no longer edit them or create new ones.

    Instead, SharePoint 2013 brings us Result Sources, that offer a more flexible way of creating what we used to call “Scopes”.

    Another piece of the Search puzzle is the Search Center. The Search Center is a site created to manage the search results, amongst other things, that users will run.

    You might have heavily customized this site, specifically the Web Parts on the Results Pages. When migrating Search to SharePoint 2013, you might find yourself re-architecting many things both at the configuration level, as well as on the Search Site level.

    Recently, while working on a customer solution, we had to replace the User’s browser homepage with the internal SharePoint Search Center site.

    The solution was adapted so the Search Site would work on all devices and still offer a minimal Intranet home page with news, etc. The Search Results pages were heavily customized to provide said features.

    Summary: SharePoint 2013 fuses FAST Search and an upgraded Enterprise Search 2010. Therefore, you will probably want to rethink your architecture in Central Administration.

    Depending on the customizations made in Search Sites, there is a good chance you will lose all of that.

    Refinement Panel Web Part has also been changed and Results no longer use XSLT to display. There are also some changes, like Result Types, that you might have to work with instead

    SharePoint 2013 search bar

  3. Authentication

    SharePoint 2013 is now available with Claims Authentication activated by default, unlike the previous versions.

    It doesn’t mean that you’ll have to use different users or passwords; however, if you had your SharePoint 2010 in “Classic mode”, authentication will not work in SharePoint 2013.

    To fix this, you must upgrade from Classic to Claims based. There is a good chance that this will not be an issue for you. However, if you migrated from SharePoint 2007 without upgrading authentication to Claims, then you’ll have to do so before migrating.

    Summary: This shouldn’t be an issue if you followed the best practices of setting up your Web Application using Claims in SharePoint 2010.

    However, if you’re still in Classic mode, or migrating from SharePoint 2007, then you’ll have to upgrade to Claims based.

  4. User Adoption

    Wait a minute, this isn’t a SharePoint feature… But it’s still a very important factor to your SharePoint migration. The impact will vary based on where you’re migrating from, SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010.

    Let’s not forget that SharePoint exists, first and foremost, to help companies reach their goals. This will only work if SharePoint facilitates daily tasks and collaboration.

    Let’s face it, SharePoint 2010 hasn’t been easy on users. Due to the large increase in its popularity, many companies have used it in many different scenarios internally. As we went along, we realized that without customization, it wasn’t always what we expected.

    Many of our users have lived this. SharePoint didn’t work exactly like they wanted, so they requested new features, only to be told it wasn’t possible.

    These users that are finally getting used to SharePoint 2010 are now being told that there is a new version coming out, and the Site Actions menu is on the right instead of the left. “Sigh”. That “sigh” feeling will without a doubt have an impact on your SharePoint 2013 migration.

    Luckily, SharePoint 2013 feels like a more polished SharePoint. It will be a lot easier for people with no SharePoint experience than it will for SharePoint 2010 veterans. I believe that it will even be easier for SharePoint 2007 veterans, than those using 2010.

    Summary: Don’t underestimate the power of User Adoption when you plan your SharePoint Migration to 2013. Granted, this is another topic on its own, but you should evaluate whether a site needs to be migrated or not.

    Remember, a site can run in “2010 compatibility mode”. If you do decide to migrate, make sure you provide a lot of information and training.

  5. Custom Solutions

    Ok, so this is the 2nd biggest one to watch out for. I’ve been working with SharePoint for, well I am not sure I want to say, but for a long time…

    The one thing that I found to be very rare, is a SharePoint without any customizations. These can be SharePoint Designer custom views, forms, coded solutions, or features with Visual Studio, as well as Client Side solutions like jQuery and JavaScript.

    You know what I’m talking about, a Content Editor Web Part with your code or CSS to override certain pages, your solutions to add custom Web Parts, the jQuery to remove the last name of the Welcome menu, etc.

    There is a very good chance these will no longer work anymore. The CSS classes your jQuery referenced are no longer there, same for your CSS overrides, and the objects your code called for simply no longer work the same way, or are no longer there.

    My advice is simple; if the Site or Site Collection in question is too heavily customized to provide an automated business process, or even a product, then leave it where it is.

    You have to see if the amount of time you would have to invest has a higher return value than the new features SharePoint 2013 would bring to your solution.

    For those Content Editor Web Parts, you can find a PowerShell Script online that will go through each page and tell you if they have a Content Editor Web Part.

    This is a must before you even start migrating to SharePoint 2013. And, of course, any third-party solutions you may have installed.

    Summary: If it’s heavily customized, leave it alone – don’t wake the beast. However, if it’s worth investing the time in rewriting the code, go for it.

    For Content Editor code, make sure you scan every page with PowerShell to find where they are. For an in-depth look at migrating SharePoint customizations to SharePoint 2013, click on the link to see a previous article on the subject.

Be Ready for Anything When Migrating to SharePoint 2013

There is a good chance you will run into other issues. SharePoint is a very large platform with many moving pieces. Active Directory, DNS, IIS, and many other SharePoint features like RBS (Remote Blob Storage) will play a part.

In this article, I tried to give you an idea of the most noticeable issues you may have when migrating to SharePoint 2013.

To reduce these kinds of issues, it’s important for you to look at re-planning your architecture, among other things, so be sure to check out the whole series of articles on the subject.

Feel free to add a comment if you encounter issues when migrating, in order to help others work around them.

Bonus: Planning a migration? Have you thought of everything? Download the Ultimate Migration Checklist to be sure!

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