You’ve learned all about cloud adoption, you’ve built your cloud migration strategy, and now it’s time to… well, migrate. Let’s discuss the actual cloud migration process and how ShareGate can make it easier—way easier—for you.
Are you following our series on how to achieve a smooth, successful Microsoft 365 cloud adoption and cloud migration? So, you just got to article #3. We hope you’re enjoying the ride!
If you’re joining us just now, the first article provides a framework for understanding the phases of Microsoft 365 cloud adoption. In our second article, we give you a step-by-step walkthrough of cloud migration planning and strategy (pro tip: you can use article #2 as your cloud migration checklist!) and how ShareGate can make the whole cloud journey and migration more accessible.
So now it’s time to move right along to the actual migration of documents and workflows so your organization can take advantage of all of Microsoft’s cloud services. We’ll also give you a heads-up on some challenges you might run into along your cloud migration journey and how ShareGate can help you avoid them. Let’s get to it!
Table of contents
What are the main benefits of migrating to the cloud?
For most companies, migrating documents moving data and workflows and driving Microsoft 365 adoption is part of their cloud adoption strategy—that is, to completely discard their legacy on-premises applications and adopt fully cloud-based solutions with cloud providers.
In our first article in this series, we described the benefits of cloud migrations, such as:
- Better accessibility
- Better digital experiences
- Cost savings
- Easier IT management
- Better security
Common cloud migration challenges
The path to the cloud is littered with failed cloud migrations. Problems during and after a cloud migration usually boil down to a lack of planning before the cloud migration. Most organizations do some level of planning when they decide to migrate from their on-premises infrastructure to cloud providers. But often, they don’t go deep enough or wide enough.
Essentially, there’s no smooth cloud migration without a comprehensive pre-migration plan. You’ll need to work with all the different business areas in your organization to understand what applications they’re using and the myriad of files they have stored.
Keep in mind: How you’ll secure data during the cloud migration, what governance plan you’ll need to ensure compliance, and how to manage costs.
We covered this planning stage in detail in our second article in this series, Develop a better cloud migration strategy with ShareGate. So, if you haven’t read it yet, make sure to do it first before you begin migrating any of your applications or files. In the meantime, here’s a rundown of some challenges you’re likely to face when migrating to the cloud.
Deciding what to migrate to the cloud
Going through your entire tech stack and file store to decide what should or shouldn’t be migrated can be daunting. And the bigger the organization, the more daunting it gets. As a result, you might feel the urge to copy everything into the cloud as is.
While this kind of cloud migration strategy can save time on the front end, you’ll be creating sprawl and cluttering up your cloud environment with unneeded applications and data from day one. And who wants to manage that?
Spare yourself from that headache and do your cloud migration homework, including a comprehensive inventory of all your applications and files and understanding how they are used in your business.
Underestimating the time needed for the migration
Estimating the amount of time and resources your cloud migration will take is another essential aspect of your pre-migration planning, so you ensure cloud migration success. However, that’s easy to get wrong, especially if your planning process didn’t go deep enough.
First, you must complete your pre-migration inventory, since the number of applications and volume of data you migrate to the cloud will directly impact the time and resources you’ll need. So, even if you have an estimated budget going into this step, the information you gain through your inventory will help you validate it and ensure you realize the anticipated cost savings.
Another aspect that impacts the time and resources you’ll allocate in your private cloud migration is the type of data and applications you have in your present environment. Some of them might only need to be copied straight into your new cloud-based tenant, while others may need to be modernized or be fully replaced by the tools in the Microsoft 365 suite.
The amount of time and resources required for these cloud migration scenarios vary widely, and it’s possible that you need a mix of them to accomplish the goals of your Microsoft cloud adoption strategy. This is another reason why planning your cloud migration upfront is so critical. You can’t develop a realistic budget without it.
When you think your plan is complete, it’s a good idea to evaluate it against our list of the common things people often forget before migrating to the cloud to ensure you haven’t missed anything that could hamper your successful migration.
Lacking the right skills to manage the cloud migration
Running applications in various cloud environments is different from running them on the premises. As a result, your IT teams may need to acquire new skills to ensure they can assess the differences in the architecture of their on-premises legacy infrastructure and the cloud environment they’re migrating to and plan for any technical issues that might arise.
The last thing you want is to roll back your cloud migration because it didn’t work (although you should have a rollback plan, as we discussed in article #2). Depending on the application, that can significantly impact your business. Using ShareGate’s migration tool can go a long way to helping you mitigate this issue because it makes your Microsoft 365 cloud migration way simpler.
Data security risks and data integrity
Having a solid understanding of cloud security is also essential. While cloud providers are responsible for ensuring the security of their cloud infrastructure, it’s your IT team’s responsibility to secure the data and applications you’re moving into the cloud during and after migration. And we all know how disastrous a data breach can be for a business.
Data privacy is another important consideration when selecting a cloud migration services provider. Organizations need to ensure that their data is stored and processed in compliance with applicable privacy regulations, such as GDPR or CCPA.
If you don’t have a cloud security expert in-house, you’ll want to factor in time for learning about the risks associated with cloud computing and how to avoid them before you begin your cloud migration. With ShareGate, you can also automate a lot of your governance and the monitoring necessary to keep your Microsoft 365 cloud environment secure.
Data migration transfer speed
Data transfer speed is another important factor to consider when either migrating data to the cloud or when you’re choosing your cloud migration tools. Moving large amounts of data to the cloud can be a time-consuming process, and slow data transfer speeds can prolong the cloud migration process.
To overcome this challenge, it is important to select a cloud provider that offers high-speed data transfer services, such as direct connect or express route. Also, picking a cloud migration tool such as ShareGate can help you with that: the Insane Mode, for example, is a setting found in the ShareGate migration tool app that allows you to migrate or import your content and objects faster. You can use it with both on-premises and Microsoft 365 environments.
How to migrate to Microsoft 365
In a nutshell, when you migrate to Microsoft 365, you’re making your existing content accessible throughout the Microsoft 365 suite. Generally speaking, this means copying or “migrating” content from a source environment—such as file shares, SharePoint Server or other on-premises servers, or cloud storage like Box or Google Drive—to Microsoft 365.
So far, we’ve emphasized the planning aspect of your migration because it’s so essential. However, the whole cloud-to-cloud migration itself demands just as much of your attention. If you’re bringing your business to the cloud with a promise of better ways to work, you want to make sure there’s no downtime and that everything you want to migrate is copied to the destination successfully.
1. Choose your adventure: which cloud migration strategy is right for you?
If you haven’t already decided on your approach to switching from your on-premises applications to their new versions in the cloud, you’ll need to do that now. There are two common cloud migration strategies you can use, and your decision will ultimately depend on the overall size and complexity of your system.
Migrate everything at the same time
With this approach, you’ll move all your applications to the cloud, but before you flip the switch, you should first verify that all your applications are working as expected and fix any that aren’t.
This approach aims to ensure that your end users don’t experience any downtime during or after the migration. All the testing happens on the front end, though, which can delay some of the benefits of cloud migration.
Move your applications over a few at a time
This is a phased approach in which you first move a few applications over and test whether they work properly. If they are, you move a few more applications and continue until everything has been migrated into your new cloud platform.
This approach allows you to minimize the potential for problems during your migration. And while it can also take longer to complete the migration, it will enable your organization to benefit from your move to the cloud sooner than if you were to migrate everything all at once.
Your chosen approach should be consistent with and informed by your cloud migration strategies. In addition to choosing the right approach for your organization, the next steps also need to:
- Understand where you’re going and what the limitations are at your destination
- Make sure the migration causes no (or minimal) downtime
- Identify what did/didn’t work so you can fix issues as fast as possible
2. Understand your file destinations and their limitations
Do you know the difference between SharePoint team sites and OneDrive and when you should migrate to one versus the other? For migration to be a success, you need to understand where you’re going and what the limitations are at the destination provided by your cloud services.
Let’s start with a quick explanation of how SharePoint Teams and OneDrive work together. Microsoft Teams is a part of SharePoint, while OneDrive is a separate document storage application in the cloud. Both are included in Microsoft 365 and both provide storage for your documents.
The difference is that OneDrive provides your end users with a place to store their work documents—like a “My Documents” folder but in the cloud. On the other hand, Microsoft Teams provides a place to store documents that need to be accessible to others so you can collaborate. While OneDrive files are kept in OneDrive, Microsoft Teams files are stored in your SharePoint library.
For most Microsoft 365 plans, the default storage space in OneDrive is 1 TB per user but can be increased to up to 5 TB. With SharePoint, there are a number of additional limitations you’ll need to be aware of before you begin your cloud migration:
- List view limits – Up to 30 million items
- Library limits – Up to 30 million files or folders
- Site collection limits – Up to 2,000 lists and libraries combined per site collection (including main site and any subsites)
- File upload and download size limits – 250 GB
- Zipped file upload and download size limits – 20 GB
3. Take steps to avoid (or minimize) downtime caused by the migration
Keep in mind that Microsoft has introduced throttling limits to maintain optimal performance and reliability of their cloud platforms and servers. To minimize the impact on your cloud services or migration progress—and make sure the migration causes minimal downtime—we recommend beginning your migration project outside of normal working hours for your region.
4. Identify what didn’t work so you can fix issues as fast as possible
Regardless of which approach you’ve chosen for your migration, you’ll need to verify that everything you wanted to move to the cloud arrived at your destination intact. Identify what did (or didn’t) work so that you can fix any issues that occurred as fast as possible.
Make your migration easier with ShareGate
ShareGate is one of the simplest, if not the simplest, cloud migration tools available. It enables you to migrate to the cloud with unlimited data, no server installation, and the help of our award-winning technical support. You can also:
- Migrate your entire environment or migrate incrementally
- Keep metadata intact throughout the migration
- Schedule your migration for whenever works best
- Automate and test your migration using PowerShell scripts
Quick overview: how to do a cloud migration with ShareGate
First, go to the ‘Copy’ screen, choose the tab that best describes the context of your migration project, and follow the steps.
ShareGate’s migration features aren’t just easy to use; they also make it easy to execute your migration strategy on your own terms. Migrate incrementally, update links, target content to “migrate by” date, flatten your folder hierarchy—you get total control to migrate with the least possible impact on regular operations.
Customizable copy options give you the flexibility to promote subsites to top-level sites, convert classic sites to the modern experience, and set up automatic export of your post-migration report while you migrate.
And thanks to automatic mapping, you don’t need to map all your users and groups manually (although you can map users and groups to replace users that are not valid to existing ones on the destination site, so everything works as intended).
Additional ShareGate cloud migration features
- Map site templates to apply your source site templates at the destination.
- Map permission levels to replace the permission level used at the source for a different one at the destination.
- Modify source properties to map the value of that property to the defined destination properties (only applies if using Copy content, Import from file share, Import from Google Drive, or Bulk edit content actions).
- Map content types at the destination that are different than the source content types (only applies if using Copy content and Bulk edit content actions).
Tests easier than your 11th-grade trigonometry class
When everything is set how you want, test-run your migration with ShareGate’s pre-check report. Detect possible warnings and errors before running your actual migration, and correct potential issues so your live migration runs as smoothly as possible. Then, schedule your migration to run automatically during off-hours to avoid throttling.
Report on everything and understand the migration from every angle
Finally, once you’re done migrating to your cloud platform, check the automatically generated migration report to see a summary of your migration, including details of any warnings or errors that might have occurred so you can fix issues fast. That way, you know your migration was a success.
Unlimited data migration at insane speeds: that’s ShareGate
Whether you’re migrating 2 TB of data or 200 TB, ShareGate’s migration engine can make your Microsoft 365 migration faster and easier. ShareGate eliminates the cumbersome and time-consuming manual effort of migrating to the cloud with automations that help you seamlessly manage content, permissions, and inheritance during and after your migration with full visibility every step of the way on your journey moving to the cloud.
Lallemand: a case study of a smooth cloud migration process
Now, a true story: when global agri-foods leader Lallemand needed to perform a massive digital transformation, SharePoint Administrator Amy Senécal Côté was assigned with the challenging task of migrating all of their SharePoint on-prem sites to SharePoint Online.
TL;DR: 70% reduction in SharePoint clutter, streamlined migration, game-changing support, and Microsoft 365 unleashed
By using ShareGate, Amy leveraged the potential of one of the most powerful cloud migration tools around. Not only was she able to easily manage this enormous cloud migration, but she also restructured her data centers and optimized the new environment while processing the sites.
“ShareGate has been my best friend all year. It’s helped me isolate problematic areas so we can do a conscious migration, rebuilding from scratch and restructuring to make everything streamlined,” says Amy, who’s also a big fan of ShareGate’s reporting features.
“Cloud migrations can be challenging because sometimes data doesn’t follow properly, or it appears differently in the new environment and can be difficult to track. That isn’t a worry when working with ShareGate. We get really clear migration reports so we’re always confident that the process was a success,” she says.
We were there through the migration process and beyond for Lallemand. Give our free trial a spin and let’s see what we can do for your organization. Take advantage of the modern Microsoft 365 for your team today.