With the release of SharePoint 2013, Microsoft has made significant improvements in its Office 365 offering. Therefore, more and more enterprises are considering migrating from their legacy SharePoint environment, Windows files, Exchange public folders and Lotus Notes applications to SharePoint Online in Office 365, or a hybrid on-premises and cloud deployment.

Moving to the cloud offers significant benefits for many organizations as it holds the promise of reduced overhead, which is a serious incentive now as IT resources are tasked to do more with less. Organizations considering the cloud, however, must first evaluate what it would take to move their existing collaboration environments. Migrating away from on-premises systems to SharePoint Online can be costly, time-consuming and fraught with risk. A cloud migration, like any migration project, must be carefully planned and executed in order to minimize impact on systems and users while ensuring data, workflows, permissions, metadata, security and settings carry forward for business continuity.

Typically when migrating away from on-premises systems to SharePoint Online, you should expect to encounter any or all of the following challenges:

  • No native migration tools – With no suitable native migration options, it is impossible to reliably migrate critical data and maintain its metadata, workflows, permissions, versioning, security and settings. This is a risk factor for compliance, governance, productivity and collaboration.
  • No method to upload documents in bulk – Migrating and consolidating a large amount of content, documents and files from on-premises to Office 365 increases the difficulty, time and labor required.
  • Loss of metadata – Migrating legacy content with incomplete or missing metadata (i.e. created by/modified by) makes information harder to find and decreases its value to the business.
  • Lack of security mapping – When sites are migrated across domain boundaries, as is the case when moving from on-premises to Office 365, it is often necessary to map site users to a different authentication domain. The source and target domains may even use completely different identity providers (e.g., Active Directory and LDAP). The lack of user mapping capability in the native export and import commands renders these tools essentially useless in this scenario.
  • Lack of granular migration options – Organizations need the flexibility to perform gradual or partial migrations without restrictions.
  • Unwanted data -- Migrating old or unwanted data and format types from on-premises to Office 365 compromises a clean environment and increases resources required for the migration project.
  • No customizations -- Customized sites can only be migrated to Office 365 with third-party tools.

For these reasons and more, customers often resort to using third-party tools to migrate content when moving between on-premises and online SharePoint environments.

For those of you who want to try Dell Migration Suite for SharePoint, we drafted a document, Best Practices for SharePoint to Office 365 Migrations, to help accelerate the migration of your existing environment to Office 365 using our tool.

Good luck with your migration project!