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Hybrid SharePoint migration to Office 365 made easier with SP1

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With all this talk about the cloud and SharePoint on Office 365, we’re bound to look for different ways to migrate to it. But migrating SharePoint to Office 365 isn’t always this straight forward thing that we can do with one fell swoop. Recently, Microsoft released the Service Pack 1 for SharePoint 2013 and with it a very interesting update that allows us to ease the migration with a solid Hybrid scenario. What do I mean by Hybrid Migration? Working with both On-Premises and Office 365 for a while and bringing content to the cloud over a longer period of time so we can better control what happens.

New redirect features in SharePoint 2013 SP1 with Office 365

Though their are quite a few changes in this update, notably SkyDrive Pro becoming OneDrive for business, the one I will be focusing on today is the new Redirect to Office 365 features. OneDrive for Business currently looks and acts exactly like SkyDrive Pro did, I invite you to read my fully detailed article on what is SkyDrive Pro if you are curious about that. When I first installed the SharePoint 2013 SP1, there were a few things that jumped at my when I launched my Central Administration.

Redirect SharePoint to Office 365 Migration

My attention jumped straight to the Office 365 section on the main screen, there is a link called « Configure OneDrive and Sites links ».

Configuring OneDrive and Sites links for a Hybrid SharePoint Migration with Office 365

The configuration is ridiculously easy, in fact I hesitated even writing it here as all we really need to do is follow the on-screen directions and read the description to understand what’s needed.

Redirect SharePoint to Office 365 Migration

Put in the URL for your My Site Host on Office 365, choose the audience or who should get this redirection to Office 365 as well as if you want the Sites tab to be redirected as well. However, if you read the description, it’s important to note that the Sites tab can never include Sites from both environments. This means that during your SharePoint Migration, users who’s Sites Tab are redirected will only see the sites they are following on Office 365 and those not redirected the ones On-Premises. This may be confusing, especially if these users get switched from On-Premises to Office 365 one day. Needless to stay there is a lot to plan for during this SharePoint Migration to Office 365. However, as far as the configuration goes, I was up and running instantly. Clicking on OneDrive (still confusing as it isn’t OneDrive but OneDrive for Business) bring me to my My Site on Office 365 and clicking on Sites brought me to it’s equivalent on Office 365. As expected, it only shows me my Office 365 sites.

Licensing and Cost of setting up SharePoint with Office 365 redirection

It took me a lot of digging, but it is now clear by looking at the Microsoft Product Use Rights (PUR) document that having specific Office 365 User CALs will allow these users to access their equivalent On-Premises SharePoint without purchasing additional licenses. Now, I am no licensing expert so please always make sure with your representative or license specialist. Also, when looking at the cost of maintaining personal sites for all my users, in terms of space and backup, it makes a lot of sense to have those on Office 365. There are obviously many other reasons to be on Office 365 in terms of cost as we get Exchange for emails and of course Lync for communication in the package. But my focus here is really on this new redirect feature and the impact it has for my migration considerations. Let’s not forget that the apps currently available for OneDrive for Business right now on iOS, Windows Phone and other devices will only work if it’s on Office 365. Given the nature and purpose of the My Site, SkyDrive Pro or OneDrive for Business, whatever name we choose to use here, having it on Office 365 makes a lot of sense. Make sure to look at this carefully when evaluating SharePoint 2013 as you will need to buy new CALs and since the ones for Office 365 will grant access to On-Premises servers, it can be a no-brainer.

What about the new Yammer configuration to replace the SharePoint Newsfeed?

Though I was extremely happy to see this, the resulting behaviour left me just a little disappointed. Back on the home page of the Central Administration, under Office 365 once again you have noticed the Configure Yammer. What is this about? Let me jump straight to the end and tell you that so far, all this those is remove the Newsfeed link from the Suite Bar at the top and add one for Yammer. But here is how I got there:

Redirect SharePoint to Office 365 Migration

Then it asked me to Take me to Yammer so I said sure.

Redirect SharePoint to Office 365 Migration
And that’s it, now whenever a user navigates to the top of their SharePoint Site, in the Suite Bar they will see that Newsfeed is no longer there and is now replaced by a Yammer shortcut. I did say shortcut, what it does is open a new tab to that user’s primary network.
SharePoint 2013 Yammer Configuration changes SuiteBar
I actually have a problem with that, I was expecting quite a bit from a new « Configure Yammer » option, at least some level of integration with my SharePoint or configuration.

What happens if some of my users already belonged to another Yammer Network before I did this, granted it may not be frequent but I have no way of controlling the url or the destination Network. On the other hand, this can be a good thing. We have a large Enterprise and created multiple networks, it’ll make sure everyone goes to their respective Primary Network when they click on the shortcut. Still, I wish I had a little more control over that, maybe through audiences like the Redirection of OneDrive for Business.

Finally, this left me wanting for more…

Redirect SharePoint to Office 365 Migration

What’s wrong? Where is the « Post to Yammer » option that is available on Office 365?
Post from SharePoint to Yammer
I expected that after « Configuring Yammer » in my On-Premises SharePoint 2013 to be able to Post to Yammer any documents or content I may be interacting with, satisfying every need I had. Right now I have to choose what to post to Yammer and what to upload to SharePoint. Of course I can create my own Display Template and easily add that feature myself, but I expected it to be there. Right now, all this done is open a new tab to Yammer’s website for my users.

**Do note that a lot may change as the big SharePoint Conference is next week and they will be announcing some new features, or at least I think. Follow me on Twitter for updates next week at SPC**

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